Book review: All By Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 Permalink

Mary Higgins Clark can always be relied upon to deliver a quality mystery novel or thriller. I’ve been reading her work for decades and she’s pretty consistent. I love some of the texture that Alafair Burke brings to their recent collaborations, but there’s something familiar or comforting about MHC’s novels.

Book review: All By Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins ClarkAll by Myself Alone
by Mary Higgins Clark
Published by Simon & Schuster UK
on April 6th 2017
Source: Simon & Schuster
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1471162826, 9781471162824
Pages: 336

Fleeing a disastrous and humiliating arrest of her husband-to-be on the eve of their wedding, Celia Kilbride, a gems and jewelry expert, hopes to escape from public attention by lecturing on a brand-new cruise ship—the Queen Charlotte.

On board she meets eighty-six-year-old Lady Emily Haywood, “Lady Em,” as she is known throughout the world. Immensely wealthy, Lady Em is the owner of a priceless emerald necklace that she intends to leave to the Smithsonian after the cruise.

Three days out to sea Lady Em is found dead—and the necklace is missing. Is it the work of her apparently devoted assistant, Brenda Martin, or her lawyer-executor, Roger Pearson, and his wife, Yvonne, both of whom she had invited to join them on the cruise? Or is it Professor Henry Longworth, an acclaimed Shakespeare scholar who is lecturing on board? Or Alan Davidson, a guest on the ship who is planning to spread his wife’s ashes at sea? The list of suspects is large and growing.

Celia, with the help of her new friends Willy and Alvirah Meehan, who are celebrating their forty-fifth wedding anniversary, sets out to find the killer, not realizing that she has put herself in mortal danger before the ship reaches its final destination.

The backcover blurb of my version didn’t mention Willy and Alvirah Meehan, who will be familiar to regular MHC readers. We’ve met the lotto-winning pair a number of times and – as in this case – they’re not necessarily the lead players, but they act as foils to our lead character Celia. (Like Watson to Holmes, or Lula to Stephanie Plum).

I’d forgotten how eminently readable MHC’s novels are. The language is simple (and not in a bad way) and the chapters short. I had to put the book down part-way through and found I added a half a dozen chapters to my ‘predetermined’ end because I could see the next chapter was short. “Just another one,” I kept saying too myself.

There’s something a little Agatha Christie-esque about this novel. I’m hoping it’s not just cos it’s set on a boat with a limited suspect pool cos I know I said the same about Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10.

This is less of a finger-pointing whodunnit however.

In fact, there really isn’t any investigation as such. MHC just lets the plot play out until the thief / murderer goes one step too far and gets caught. I tried to ponder on previous works by the author to remember if there’s usually an investigation of sorts: ie. an interrogation then dismissal of each suspect until the final twist is revealed… and I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember.

I’m not sure it initially mattered however, as I was almost at the end when I realised neither Celia nor the Meehans had poked about with a spyglass, looking for clues. There was a superficial contemplation via those on board as to who the culprit could be, but no last-minute surprise unveiling of the baddie… as I’m accustomed to seeing.

Although satisfactory in terms of closure, I was possibly a little disappointed in the very end as it did lack the trickery I’m a little accustomed to in mysteries or novels of suspense.

Having said that, the release of this book is well timed as we’re heading into Easter and this would make a perfect holiday read.

All By Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark will be published in Australia by Simon & Schuster and available from 6 April 2017.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.



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