Mary Higgins Clark Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Mary Higgins Clark, one of the most popular and prolific modern suspense writers, has been called the “Queen of Suspense.” Her fast-paced, tightly plotted award-winning best sellers capturing daily terrors have attracted readers worldwide for more than thirty years. In the tradition of Pat Flower, Margaret Millar, and Mignon Eberhardt, authors noted for portraying vulnerable women facing evil, Clark is at her best when she is writing about women who rise above personal weaknesses to protect and defend those less capable. Her success lies in part in her ability to understand the worries of wives, mothers, and working women: their fears for their children, their alienation from the men in their lives, their personal insecurities, their vaguely disturbing childhood memories, and their growing awareness of deception and lies beneath people’s smiles. She connects the intimate and personal with broader public concerns to heighten the sense of suspense. Clark, who publishes one or two novels or story collections per year, weaves disparate plot strands into unexpected wholes, often exploring the same theme on multiple levels (for example, providing different degrees and types of betrayals or jealousies). Her strength is in creating vivid scenes that make readers experience apprehension, fear, discovery, and catharsis.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Clark, Mary Higgins. Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. The title of this memoir refers to the boardinghouse that Clark’s mother ran. The work deals with her childhood influences, her early life, and her first marriage.

De Roche, Linda. Revisiting Mary Higgins Clark: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2003. Updates Peltzer’s earlier work with novels published 1996-2002 and provides plots, characters, thematic analysis, and critical readings. Comprehensive bibliography. Film guide. Indexed.

Klein, Kathleen Gregory, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers: Classic to Contemporary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Essays on over one hundred women writers, including Clark; a useful overview essay on women mystery writers places Clark in the genre. Indexed.

Macdonald, Gina. “We’ll Meet Again.” In Beacham’s Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction. Vol. 14. New York: Gale Press, 2001. Analyzes the social concerns, themes, characters, techniques, literary precedents, and related titles of this novel. The encyclopedia includes analyses of five other Clark novels.

Peltzer, Linda C. Mary Higgins Clark: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995. Analyzes Clark’s early work, suspense conventions, and literary/family influences. Indexed.