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Moonlight Becomes You

Moonlight Becomes You

4.0 42
by Mary Higgins Clark

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In her thirteenth full-length novel -- her most chillingly suspenseful yet -- Mary Higgins Clark, "America's Queen of Suspense," delivers a tale of brilliantly sustained terror.

Set in Newport, Rhode Island, in a world of old money and proud names, Moonlight Becomes You has at its center Maggie Holloway, an independent young woman who has put


In her thirteenth full-length novel -- her most chillingly suspenseful yet -- Mary Higgins Clark, "America's Queen of Suspense," delivers a tale of brilliantly sustained terror.

Set in Newport, Rhode Island, in a world of old money and proud names, Moonlight Becomes You has at its center Maggie Holloway, an independent young woman who has put personal tragedy behind her and become one of the fashion world's most successful photographers.

Accompanying her date to a party in Manhattan -- a kind of family reunion for the Moore clan of Newport -- Maggie is reunited with a woman who had once been her stepmother and who remains one of her fondest childhood memories. Nuala Moore is equally thrilled to see Maggie, and the two quickly get beyond old pains and resume their friendship.

Nuala, now widowed, invites Maggie to visit her in Newport, and when Maggie readily accepts, Nuala plans a dinner for a group of friends so they can meet her long-lost stepdaughter. But when Maggie arrives, she finds Nuala dead, the victim of an apparently random break-in and robbery.

Maggie is heartbroken at the loss and further stunned when she learns that, only days before her death, Nuala had changed her will and left her charming Victorian house to her stepdaughter, the only proviso being that Maggie occasionally visit an old friend, Greta Shipley, who lives in Latham Manor, an elegant retirement home in Newport.

It is when she accompanies Mrs. Shipley to the cemetery to visit Nuala's grave, as well as those of other friends Mrs. Shipley has recently lost, that Maggie discovers that something is wrong. Using her skills as a photographer to aid her in uncovering the secrets hidden on the gravesites, she soon realizes that Nuala's death may not have been a random killing at all but rather part of a diabolical plot conceived by a twisted and unfeeling mind.

Suddenly it becomes all too apparent to Maggie that Nuala's killer must have been someone she trusted completely. Then, when Greta Shipley dies virtually without warning of supposedly natural causes, Maggie becomes convinced that there is a connection between these two and other recent deaths among the older women of Newport.

What Maggie doesn't realize is that she has become a target for the killer as well and that each clue she uncovers brings her closer and closer to a shocking and unimaginable fate.

With a sense of swiftly mounting danger, and with the skill and insight into human nature that have made all Mary Higgins Clark's books major bestsellers, Moonlight Becomes You is enthralling suspense.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pretty photographer Maggie Holloway begins Clark's latest (after Silent Night) lying in a coffin buried in a grave, pulling desperately at a string that leads to a bell with no clapper. How she got there is the essence of a convoluted tale of a ritzy Newport, R.I., retirement home whose well-heeled residents seem to die with alarming frequency, leading to high-profit turnover of their apartments there. Latest to shed her mortal coil was Maggie's much-loved stepmother, a fact that led intrepid Maggie to take an unwise amount of interest in the deaths-and also to question why several of the graves seemed to have little funerary bells on them. As usual with Clark, there is a stalwart admirer whose love does not immediately speak its name, and a surfeit of suspicious characters, including a scholarly funeral nut, a shady investment broker, a venal lawyer, a drunken, inept doctor and a nosy nurse. There's some fun in the sprightly Newport oldsters, and the many scenes and characters are shifted around smoothly and with a practiced hand. The bells gimmick seems no more than that, however, and the book is light on thrills-though there's nothing to put off Clark's myriad fans. Major ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection; Reader's Digest Condensed Books selection; paperback rights to Pocket Books; author tour. (May).
Library Journal
More scary stuff from one of America's best-known suspense writers.
Mary Frances Wilkens
Professional photographer Maggie Holloway revisits the best part of her childhood after she runs into her former stepmother, Nuala Moore, at a Manhattan party. Nuala seems edgy, but Maggie never finds out why, for only days into their reunion, she finds her beloved Nuala murdered. Maggie is the unexpected inheritor of Nuala's Newport home, for which Maggie receives curiously generous, even overpriced, offers from several parties. Nuala had at one time planned on selling the property in order to move into a ritzy retirement home but had suddenly and without explanation changed her mind only days before her death. When Maggie also decides not to sell the property, she becomes the one squeaky cog in an otherwise well-oiled machine of fraud, murder, and deception. At Maggie's side are two suitors: the wealthy Liam, who suddenly begins paying more attention to her after Nuala's death, and the seemingly indifferent Neil, a kindhearted investment banker. Clark has written a clever story with interesting characters, particularly Liam's macabre, death-obsessed cousin, Earl. Though this is not her finest book, Clark's popularity will surely put "Moonlight" on the lists.
Kirkus Reviews
The arresting opening tableau—a young woman buried alive in a satin-lined coffin—is a perfect image for the sleekly cushioned menace Clark dispenses in her 13th novel (Silent Night, 1995, etc.).

Flashback 20 days to the night photographer Maggie Holloway meets her long-ago stepmother, Nuala Moore, and Nuala invites her to visit her place in Newport. Before Maggie's arrival, though—and, more crucially, before Nuala can carry out her plan to move into the nonpareil Latham Manor Residence—Nuala is killed and her house ransacked, and Maggie finds to her astonishment that Nuala's will leaves the Newport house to her. Why would anybody want to kill an inoffensive old lady like Nuala? Well, somebody might be trying to pick up her house for a song (somebody like Nuala's attorney Malcolm Norton or shady broker Douglas Hansen); or somebody might be after the fat deposit the next applicant for Nuala's new suite would have to pay Latham Manor (somebody like incompetent director Dr. William Lane or nosey nurse Zelda Markey); or somebody might need to shut Nuala up about her knowledge of several other suspect deaths, with another still impending, of Latham Manor residents (whoever may have helped those residents into the great beyond); or somebody might be just a little obsessed with the whole subject of death (somebody like wild-eyed funeral expert Prof. Earl Bateman). As usual in her recent work, Clark ends up tying all these threats in together, so that the land grab, the nursing-home deposit scam, the investment fraud, the sinister messages sent by a series of funeral bells, and the Latham Manor murders all turn out to be the work of a single diligent soul, who (don't forget) has the same wicked designs on Maggie as on Nuala.

About average for Clark's G-rated thrillers, as if you were counting—with enough material on funerary customs to make you resolve to live forever.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
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6.50(w) x 9.58(h) x 1.27(d)
910L (what's this?)

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter Nine Except for that uptight art director, it had been a good week, Maggie reflected as she turned off Route 138 in Newport. Both photo shoots this week had turned out exceptionally well, especially the one for Vogue.

But after the meticulous attention she had to give to noting how the camera was capturing every fold of the astronomically priced gowns she was photographing, it was a distinct joy to put on jeans and a plaid shirt. In fact, with the exception of a blue silk print blouse and matching long skirt she planned to wear tonight for Nuala's dinner party, everything she had brought to wear on this vacation was quite casual.

We're going to have such fun, she thought. Two uninterrupted weeks in Newport. Nuala and I really will have a chance to catch up with each other! She smiled at the prospect. It had been a surprise when Liam called to say that he would be at Nuala's tonight, as well, although she should have realized he spent a fair amount of time in Newport. "It's an easy drive from Boston," he had pointed out. "I go there fairly regularly for weekends, especially off-season."

"I didn't know that," she had said.

"There's a lot you don't know about me, Maggie. Maybe if you weren't out of town so much... "

"And maybe if you didn't live in Boston and use your New York apartment so little..."

Maggie smiled again. Liam is fun, she thought, even though he does take himself too seriously much of the time. Stopping at a red light, she glanced down and rechecked her directions. Nuala lived just off the fabled Ocean Drive, on Garrison Avenue. "I even have a view of the ocean from the third floor," she had explained. "Wait till you see it and my studio."

She had called three times this week to be sure there were no changes of plan. "You are coming, Maggie? You won't disappoint?"

"Of course not," she had assured her. Still, Maggie had wondered if it was only her imagination or was there something in Nuala's voice, an uneasiness that perhaps she had detected in her face the night they had dinner in Manhattan. At the time, she had rationalized that Nuala's husband had died only last year, and she was starting to lose her friends as well, one of the nonjoys of living long enough to get old. Naturally a sense of mortality has to be setting in, she reasoned.

She had seen the same look on the faces of nursing home residents she had photographed for Life magazine last year. One woman had said wistfully, "Sometimes it bothers me a lot that there's no one left who remembers me when I was young."

Maggie shivered, then realized the temperature in the car had dropped rapidly. Turning off the air-conditioning, she opened the window a few inches and sniffed the tangy scent of the sea that permeated the air. When you've been raised in the Midwest, she thought, you can't ever get enough of the ocean.

Checking her watch, she realized it was ten of eight. She would barely have time to freshen up and change before the other guests began to arrive. At least she had phoned Nuala to let her know she was getting off to a late start. She had told her she should be arriving just about now.

She turned onto Garrison Avenue and saw the ocean in front of her. She slowed the car, then stopped in front of a charming clapboard house with weathered shingles and a wraparound porch. This had to be Nuala's home, she thought, but it seemed so dark. There were no outside lights turned on at all, and she could detect only a faint light coming from the front windows.

She pulled into the driveway, got out, and, without bothering to open the trunk for her suitcase, ran up the steps. Expectantly she rang the bell. From inside she could hear the faint sound of chimes.

As she waited, she sniffed. The windows facing the street were open, and she thought she detected a harsh, burning smell coming from inside. She pressed the doorbell again, and again the chimes reverberated through the house.

There was still no answer, no sound of footsteps. Something has to be wrong, she thought anxiously. Where was Nuala? Maggie walked over to the nearest window and crouched down, straining to see past the lacy fringe on the partly drawn shade, into the darkness inside.

Then her mouth went dry. The little she could see of the shadowy room suggested it was in wild disorder. The contents of a drawer were strewn on the hooked carpet, and the drawer itself was leaning haphazardly against the ottoman. The fireplace was opposite the windows and flanked by cabinets. All of them were open.

What faint light there was came from a pair of sconces over the mantel. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, Maggie was able to pick out a single high-heeled shoe, turned on its side in front of the fireplace.

What was that? She squinted and leaned forward, then realized she was seeing a small stockinged foot, extending from behind a love seat near where the shoe had fallen. She lunged back to the door and twisted the handle, but it was locked.

Blindly, she rushed to the car, grabbed the car phone and punched in 911. Then she stopped, remembering: Her phone was attached to a New York area code. This was Rhode Island; Nuala's number began with a 401 area code. With trembling fingers she punched in 401 -- 911.

When the call was answered, she managed to say "I'm at 1 Garrison Avenue in Newport. I can't get in. I can see someone lying on the floor. I think it's Nuala."

I'm babbling, she told herself. Stop it. But as the calm, unhurried questions came from the dispatcher, with absolute certainty Maggie's mind was shouting three words: Nuala is dead.

FONT SIZE="-1">Copyright © 1996 by Mary Higgins Clark

Meet the Author

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark has written thirty-seven suspense novels, four collections of short stories, a historical novel, a memoir, and two children’s books. With her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, she has coauthored five more suspense novels, and also wrote The Cinderella Murder, All Dressed in White, The Sleeping Beauty Killer, and Every Breath You Take with bestselling author Alafair Burke. More than one hundred million copies of her books are in print in the United States alone. Her books are international bestsellers.

Brief Biography

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

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Moonlight Becomes You 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was unable to put this book on hiatus for any length of time- I had the unrelenting need to keep turning the page. Anything that can elude its ending from me is well worth reading. Count on the unpredictable that's in plain sight.
PiccolaEJ More than 1 year ago
I recently finished reading Moonlight Becomes You. The story opens with the main character, Maggie Holloway, reuniting unexpectedly with her beloved stepmother, Nuala. Less than a week later, however, Nuala is found murdered in her home. The police classify the attack to have been committed by a "random" burglar. But when Nuala's close friend is found dead six days later, Maggie begins to suspect there is someone who is carefully plotting out these crimes. As she continues to delve deeper into the investigation, she is unknowingly putting herself at risk. I have always been a fan of mystery and suspense novels, and I rate Mary Higgins Clark at the top of my list. I've read many of her novels, and I was unsurprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed this one as much as the others. With its thrilling cliffhangers and well-constructed plot, this novel accomplished all that it was designed to do. The back cover of the book states, "Stay up all night with the Queen of Suspense." I found this to be true for two reasons: First, the plot sucks you in to the point where you don't want to put the book down. Second, the suspense keeps you thrillingly chilled to the bone. Take, for instance, the scene right before Nuala is murdered, prior to the discovery of who the murderer is: "For a moment Nuala was startled, but as the door opened and her visitor stepped in, she smiled warmly. 'Hello there,' she said, 'Good to see you, but you're not due for a couple of hours[for the party] so you can't stay long.' 'I don't plan to stay long,' her visitor said quietly." (p.19) The only negative about this book is that there were almost too many characters to keep up with. Up to chapter eight, it was basically just an introduction of each new character and the explanation of their background. Later in the book, I found myself wondering, "Wait, now who is that character again?" I would frequently have to go back and search through the pages. Besides that minor flaw, Moonlight Becomes You was a wonderful suspense novel filled with captivating plot-twists and thrilling cliffhangers. I highly recommend it as a must-read for all who seek a little healthy dose of fear.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Moonlight Becomes You is an awesome book. It kept me wondering what was going to happen, and it didn't ever really give anything away. It was a little slow in the begining and confusing with the different people 'talking' but after a while it made sense. I haven't read many of Mary Higgins Clark's books but the ones i have, have been fantastic. I recommend this book to anyone who loves horror and suspence.
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ShakiraM More than 1 year ago
I began reading this book in 4th grade, unfortunately I picked it up too close to the end of the semester and wasn't yet the speedy reader I am now. Before the more interesting, the slower I read, somehow trying to fall into the pages, and I definitely fell and never forgot. I always finish a book I've started, so I searched and searched through titles. Even Clark's name resonated in me over the years, and I read first chapter after first chapter of so many titles. When finally I saw this book again, I knew automatically I'd finally found it. Moonight Becomes You.
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PACEastRutherford More than 1 year ago
I LOVE Mary Higgins Clarks books - this was as good as all her other books. Another one you can't put down - have to continue reading on till the next chapter. I don't know where she gets her ideas but they are GREAT! Love when she talks about the Metropolitan area - she mentions so many things that I'm farmilar with I feel I'm part of the book!
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TonyaL More than 1 year ago
I just read this book for the second time, the first time was 5 yrs ago or so. I really liked it then. Although it wasn't such a surprise to me, due to the fact i read it once, I still enjoyed it. I really like Mary Higgins Clark. This is one of the first books i read by her. I liked it so much I have read most of her books and this one is probably in the top 10. I recommend it to anyone that likes Mary Higgins Clark books!
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