It Had to Be You

It Had to Be You

by Mary Higgins Clark, Alafair Burke
It Had to Be You

It Had to Be You

by Mary Higgins Clark, Alafair Burke



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In the latest thrilling entry of the bestselling Under Suspicion series by Queen of Suspense Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke, television producer Laurie Moran investigates the unsolved murder of a beloved couple celebrating the college graduations of their successful twin sons.

The two identical brothers seemed perfect in every way—handsome, intelligent, popular—until a shocking summer night when one brother killed his parents in cold blood while the other brother had an iron-clad alibi. But which twin was where during the murders? And is it possible the two of them planned the perfect crime together?

Years later, the twins are long estranged, each of them claiming to be convinced that the other is responsible for the death of their parents. Married now with children of their own, they may finally be ready to clear one name at the expense of the other and turn to Laurie Moran and her team to reinvestigate their parents’ murder. But as the Under Suspicion crew gets closer to the truth, the danger that was assumed to be left in the past finds its way into the present.

Featuring chilling suspense, a cast of characters whom loyal readers have come to love, and a final jaw-dropping twist, It Had to Be You is not to be missed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781982132590
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 04/16/2024
Series: Under Suspicion Series
Format: eBook
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 322
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

About The Author
The #1 New York Times bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark wrote over forty suspense novels, four collections of short stories, a his­torical novel, a memoir, and two children’s books. With bestselling author Alafair Burke she wrote the Under Suspicion series including The Cinderella MurderAll Dressed in WhiteThe Sleeping Beauty KillerEvery Breath You TakeYou Don’t Own Me, and Piece of My Heart. With her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, she coauthored five suspense novels. More than one hundred million copies of her books are in print in the United States alone. Her books are international bestsellers.

Alafair Burke is the New York Times bestselling author of fourteen novels, including The Better SisterThe WifeThe Ex, and Find Me, in addition to the Under Suspicion series, coauthored with Mary Higgins Clark. A former prosecutor, she now teaches criminal law and lives in New York City. 


Saddle River, New Jersey and New York, New York

Date of Birth:

December 24, 1929

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


New York University; B.A., Fordham University, 1979

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1 Thirty-two-year-old Michelle Ward heard the clatter of scampering feet above her, a sure sign that the children were up and that her two and a half hours of early morning solitude were coming to an end. The words were flowing quickly onto her screen and she wanted to finish this chapter while she was on a roll. The sound of her husband’s voice telling the kids to brush their teeth assured her that he had everything under control, and she found herself smiling as she finished writing the scene where her novel’s two main characters first met in the cutest way.

She knew Simon’s legal career wasn’t the one he’d dreamed of when he first went to law school. While his father thrived in the elbow-rubbing culture of small-firm practice, Simon had wanted to clerk for the Supreme Court and then become a complex commercial litigator with one of the largest law firms in the world. He was the guy who planned out his entire life from a young age until life decided it wasn’t going along with his plans.

He was in no condition to begin law school after the gruesome murders of his parents, so Columbia promised to hold his place in the following year’s entering class to give him time to grieve. By the time he felt ready to focus on his studies, a group of current students and alumni had petitioned the dean to revoke his admission in light of what they called “more than probable cause to believe he either committed or was complicit in a double murder.” Michelle had wanted him to sue when the school pulled its offer, but her parents advised that a lawsuit was unlikely to prevail and would only call more negative attention to Simon and his brother. Instead, her father called his own alma mater, Suffolk Law School, and got the son of his deceased law partner quietly enrolled.

Even when Simon sat for the bar, two lawyers who didn’t know him at all had contacted the state bar’s character and fitness committee trying to ban him from being sworn in. Their efforts failed, but employers weren’t exactly pounding on the door to hire one of the notorious “Deadly Duo.”

So instead of the big, flashy career at a big, fancy firm, Simon worked at the same little law office his father had, accepting a job offer from Michelle’s father to join the practice. When Michelle’s brother, Dennis, graduated from Boston College Law School the following year, he joined the firm, too, and now Dennis and Simon were partners. In truth, Simon was a far brighter attorney than her brother and did most of the actual legal work behind the scenes, but Dennis was the face of the firm, lest Simon make any potential clients flinch. Where Simon’s father had been the unquestioned leader at Harrington, Ward & Carver, the tables had turned at the newly formed Ward & Harrington LLC.

Maybe it was her natural disposition toward optimism, but Michelle chose to believe that, despite the utter horror of that awful night, in some ways their life was happier than if Simon’s professional dreams had come true. His hours were routine, he rarely traveled, and he was home to have dinner every night with her and the kids.

And unlike most of her writer friends, who complained about husbands who didn’t understand how hard they worked, Simon made a point to help her carve out time when she could write in peace and quiet. That’s why she was currently in the kitchen in her PJs, writing a smile-inducing meet-cute scene. These early morning hours were for her to work while Simon got the kids dressed and ready for a breakfast that he would cook for them all before heading to the office. She’d written four successful romance novels so far, using a pseudonym to avoid any whiff of notoriety.

Her laptop was closed by the time her children, Daniel, six, and Sophie, four, came thundering down the stairs.

“I’m hungry,” Sophie said, her cherubic face still sleepy-eyed.

“You’re always hungry,” Daniel teased. “You’re an eating machine.”

“No, you’re an eating machine.”

Simon soon trailed them into the kitchen wearing a fluffy white robe, his hair damp from a shower. “You’re both eating machines, which is why I’m going to make a giant stack of pancakes.”

Sophie clapped, and Daniel let out a satisfied “Yesss.” Where did they pick these things up?

As she was clearing their breakfast plates while Simon finished getting ready for work, the shrill ring of the house phone startled her. These days, they usually used their cell phones, and it was so early for an unexpected call.

“Hello?” Michelle said, her voice tinged with curiosity.

“May I speak with Simon Harrington?” a voice on the other end inquired. The caller was female with a hint of a Southern accent.

“May I ask who’s calling?”

The voice on the other end was calm, almost detached. “My name’s Lydia Martindale. I have a podcast called Deadly Secrets.”

Michelle’s heart quickened, and she felt a chill run down her spine. “Why do you want to talk to my husband?”

“You probably know that it’s been almost ten years since his parents were murdered. We’ll be talking about the case to mark the anniversary. We’d like him to come on our show.”

It had taken so many years for them to settle into a new kind of normal. Simon, worried what his own future would look like, almost hadn’t proposed to her, even though they had both known in high school that they would spend their lives together. Then after they were married, they weren’t sure whether it was prudent to have children in the event Simon was ever formally charged. All these years later, she had trained herself not to fear developments they could not control. Their life was their life. Time moved on.

Michelle tightened her grip on the receiver. “I’m going to hang up now—”

“If he doesn’t talk to us, but Ethan does, how will that look?” The question sounded to Michelle like a threat. “Does Simon still speak to Ethan? What about Frances? Is she on good terms with her brothers?”

Michelle hesitated at the mention of Simon’s sister, Frankie. After the murders, Frankie had moved in with Michelle’s parents. She was only twelve years old at the time. Although she was told that her parents had been killed, she did not know that her brothers were suspects until she overheard children at her school talking about them. When Frankie came home crying, Michelle’s parents told her children could be misinformed and cruel, and assured her that her brothers were innocent, a position that both of Michelle’s parents clung to, even to this day, despite the evidence. Michelle wasn’t certain whether her parents actually believed someone else killed the Harringtons or if they simply loved Richard and Sarah’s children too much to allow themselves to entertain the alternative.

With the encouragement of Michelle’s parents, Frankie remained close to both of her brothers as she grew up, even as they became estranged from each other. But once she moved to California for college, her calls and texts became increasingly rare. Simon tried to tell himself that it was because she was busy, but even on her trips home to Boston, she seemed chilly, so different from her usually sunny and playful personality. When Michelle pressed her mother on the point, she finally explained that Frankie had been reading the details of her parents’ murders and was now wondering if in fact her brothers were involved. Simon was devastated when Michelle broke the news to him.

“No comment,” Michelle said, the sadness of their fractured family casting a shadow over her thoughts.

The podcaster continued, undeterred. “Ethan’s wife, Annabeth, is having a child in three months. Will your children meet their new cousin?”

With a growing sense of unease, Michelle hung up the phone. She had an unfocused gaze when Simon returned to the kitchen, his robe replaced by a suit and tie. “Hey, did I hear the phone?”

She told him about Lydia Martindale and her prying questions.

“I guess we should have known that TV show that called your mother a few years ago wouldn’t be the end of the media trying to profit from my parents’ murders.”

Almost three years ago, someone from a true crime program had inquired about the family’s interest in appearing on her television show. Unlike this Lydia Martindale person, that woman had not called their home first thing in the morning. Instead, she had gone to Michelle’s parents. As Michelle understood it, she had wanted to make sure Frankie was comfortable with the idea before approaching Simon and Ethan. Frankie was not, and that was the end of the discussion.

“Did you know Annabeth’s pregnant?” Michelle asked.

He was silent as he shook his head, but she could see the pain in her husband’s eyes. Until the murders, he and Ethan had been not only twin brothers, but best friends, confiding everything to each other.

But that was before Ethan killed their parents. Simon would never forgive him, and nothing could change that.

After Simon left for work, Michelle found herself watching her children, blissfully unaware of the phone call that had pulled their mother’s thoughts into the past.

The murders of Sarah and Richard had left scars that might never heal completely, but Simon had worked so hard to make peace with the fact that the investigation had gone cold and the police would never prove Ethan’s guilt, meaning the rest of the world would be free to wonder whether Simon had been involved, too. She and Simon had built a life together with the kids, far removed from those grim memories.

Had it really been almost ten years? There were days that had felt endless, but somehow the time had flown by so quickly.

When their children first asked why Grammy and Papa were their only grandparents, while many of their friends had two sets, they had explained that Daddy’s parents had died when he was twenty-two years old. She and Simon did not know when and whether to tell the fuller story, but eventually it would be out of their control.

Those tablets in her children’s hands. This morning, Sophie was using hers to tend to her plants on a game of the Very Hungry Caterpillar, while Daniel was mastering Candy Crush. It wouldn’t be long before they learned how to use those miniature computers to Google information on the Internet. Eventually they’d type in their father’s name.

How do you tell your children that strangers believe their father murdered their grandparents in a conspiracy with an uncle they didn’t even know existed? Maybe some extra attention to mark the anniversary of the deaths could be a blessing in disguise if it might finally clear Simon’s name.

She reopened her laptop and looked up the Deadly Secrets podcast with Lydia Martindale. She hit play on one episode and immediately recognized the voice. The audio was tinny, and the show only had seventeen online reviews. She should have known from the 8 a.m. phone call that it was not a professional operation.

She googled “true crime media” and found a flurry of articles about the boom of the true crime genre. She clicked on an article called “When Crime Solving Becomes Entertainment.” She hadn’t heard of any of these podcasts or television shows, even the popular ones. After everything that had happened with the murders and the investigation that followed, Michelle could not imagine using her free time to think about crime.

Her eyes widened at the claim that one television show, Under Suspicion, had managed to crack nearly every case it had covered. The narrator was a handsome man named Ryan Nichols, who looked more like a TV anchor to Michelle than a detective. Apparently sources at the studio attributed the successful case outcomes to someone behind the scenes, a producer named Laurie Moran.

Michelle Googled the producer’s name and landed on a New York magazine profile. The journalist daughter of the NYPD’s former first deputy commissioner, she was motivated to reinvestigate unsolved crimes after the murder of her own husband was unresolved for five years.

At the mention of the homicide, Michelle realized that Laurie Moran was the same journalist who had once contacted her mother and Frankie. According to her mom, the woman seemed serious and empathetic, not at all like the podcast woman who called this morning.

When Michelle got to the part of the article where Laurie described those years as “living in limbo,” she found herself nodding along, tears forming in her eyes. Michelle couldn’t help but wonder if it was finally time to confront the shadows of the past.

She found her phone on the kitchen counter and scrolled down to a name that was close to the top of her contact list. She had never been able to bring herself to delete it.

Annabeth. Annabeth, to whom Michelle had been so needlessly cruel. Annabeth, who was apparently expecting her first child in three months with Ethan.

She hoped the number hadn’t changed.

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