All Around the Town by Mary Higgins Clark

Admittedly, Mary Higgins Clark is my guilty pleasure. Since the seventh grade I have devoured her trashy suspense novels in two days or less. To decide if a book is trashy, there are two determining factors: the title is smaller than the author’s name, and the back cover, instead of displaying quotes from reviewers and a brief synopsis, is devoted to a full sized picture of the author (yeah that means you James Patterson). Mary Higgins Clark is guilty on both counts; however she somehow passes under my radar. I can’t read trashy romance novels; not even in secret, but the presence of violence makes these books acceptable to my literary conscience. 

When it got to the end of winter semester, my stress level had reached an all time high. I decided instead of reverting to Oscar Wilde or Shakespeare, I would read something lighter. I went to the Worcester institution, Ben Franklin Bookstore (R.I.P) and went directly to the mystery/suspense section which MHC completely dominated (of course). I grabbed All Around the Town because it was on the wrong shelf. It was my way of helping Mr. and Mrs. Reid maintain their bookstore. 

Anyone who has read at least two Mary Higgins Clark novels knows that there is a formula. There’s an unnamed villain, (generally a minor character who is uninvolved enough that you don’t suspect him or her, but involved just enough that you aren’t completely thrown when they turn out to be evil). A couple of the chapters narrate the villain’s movements, but his or her identity is not revealed until at least the second to last chapter. Well this book didn’t follow the formula! Through the whole book the reader knows who the villains are. I don’t watch Law and Order: Criminal Intent specifically to avoid this technique. They show the villain from the very beginning. Why would I watch the rest of the episode! 

Although I acknowledge Mary Higgins Clark’s prowess at producing entertaining, trashy suspense novels, I’d say this book was a disappointment. Predictable mystery novel may seem to be an oxymoron; however that was what I wanted. Mary Higgins Clark novels were the equivalent of my security blanket, and I feel as though they’ve betrayed me.