I have been working my way through some of Mary Higgins Clarks books and from the start this book draws you into the story and has plenty of suspense.
It takes place within the world of the personal ads and how someone is using these ads as a way to trap and lure women to their death. Darcy Scott is the main character and is instantly likeable. She works as a sort of Interior Designer, both herself and her best friend Erin place personal ads to help their television producer friend. Who at the moment is involved with a programme regarding personal ads.
After a date Erin mysteriously diasappears, Darcy begins to realise that maybe the ads were not just a bit of fun after all. Darcy instantly fears the worst and her suspicions are confirmed when Erins body is found dumped in an alley with her own boot on one foot and a dancing shoe on the other.
Darcy immediately insists on helping with the investigation by continuing to answer the ads so she can try and unmask her friends killer. This obviously brings her very close to being the next victim and leads to a very exciting ending.
This novel is very typical of Mary Higgins Clark it includes a serial killer and the killer generally plays a cat and mouse game with the main character, this is certainly what happens in this story. The lead character Darcy is very much like all the main characters in Higgins novels as she is a strong and independant woman. You instantly feel for her character and even though she is using a dangerous way to find the killer you can kind of understand why she is doing it.
As you read on there are many suspects and you are thrown many red herrings before you finally discover who the killer is.
The book is a very good read and Mary Higgins Clark is one of my favourite authors of thrillers as she always keeps you guessing right up till the last pages. The only thing that I would say is some of the things mentioned in the book can sound a little dated as I believe it was written around 1992 but this is just a minor detail and the storyline is very good so it doesn't really affect the book.
Mary Higgins Clark is never going to win a Nobel prize for literature, or indeed any prizes for her work, but as, what I consider a pulp fiction writer, she is definately one of the better ones.
Clark writes thrillers, usually with a serial killer or two thrown in, she is also one of the queens of cliffhangers with her heroines in mortal danger.
And Loves Music, Loves to Dance is no exception! It concerns the story of Darcy Scott and Erin Kelley, a pair of stereotypical single successful New Yorkers, the latter 'an' upcoming' jewellery designer, the other an 'upcoming' interior designer'. But the first chapter doesn't introduce us to the intrepid pair but a seemingly very disturbed individual called Charley (Remind me never to call any of my kids Charley, seems to be one of the names often picked as a baddie)
We find out he's a murderer with a foot fetish after being thwarted by his crush as a teenager. Unfortunately, after 15 years, the urges are back and through personal ad placements he's now met and killed seven more girls. Now Erin and Darcy are in his sights after answering his ad.
Now why would two such girls be answering personal ads? Well a certain Nona Roberts, television producer is making a documentary on said adverts persuades them to answer in order to get some more material.
Nona, as is necessary appears throughout the book, but is a very insipid character, no more than just a name, we find out nothing about her character and nor does she add anything to the story, whereby I feel she could have been utilised more.
So our girls are answering the ads, Darcy only manages to get one date whereby her 6ft 1 executive turns out to be a midget with grandiose ideas. Erin however, has eight dates lined up and intends to go on every one. Can you see what's coming? I certainly did, she's managed to disappear in the third chapter of the book after meeting a chap called Charles North, and is presumed to be murdered after a bit of chasing up by Darcy, and her body is later discovered dumped on the road..
So Erin is physically out of the picture, but by no means out of the story, her character development continues, and we get to know more about her, it feels like she is still taking an active part in the storyline, and is extremely well done by Clark.
So despite FBI and friends advice Darcy decides to carry on answering ads in order to try an find her killer, presumably he has murderer or the like tattooed on his forehead?
So to our remaining heroine, Darcy is a strong character, yet very uninteresting at the same time, there's very little character development, what you see at the beginning is what you get at the end. She is the daughter of two very famous actors and references to this are made throughout the book, I haven't quite discovered why this is, because it adds nothing to the story. Darcy also meets quite a few men along the way, but doesn't seem to work out to whether any of them are Erins killer, until he, quite literally, wallops her over the head! Although I have to say her taste in men is rather dodgy! Unfortunately the main character in the book almost recedes to a secondary one, much more important are the men she encounters along the way, we know that one of them is the killer, but which one? Each has his own reasons and there are things that point to them being the murderer.
Chris Sheridan: Brother of the first murdered girl, Nan. Could he be exacting revenge for what happened to her?
Jay Stratton: Supposed business associate of Erin. Easily angered, he also met Erin through a personal ad, and is involved in some very dodgy dealings surrounding Erins Work. He also went to school with Nan
Len Parker: A meeting between him and Darcy turns into an obsession with him, and he stalks her. He uses a false name and keeps a secret apartment, he has also met Erin through an ad.
Michael Nash: A psychiatrist approached by Nona to appear on the documentary, he has to decline as he is writing his own book on personal ads, during the research of which he met Erin. He and Darcy start to embark on a romantic relationship.
Doug Fox/Fields: A married philanderer who regularly meets women from the ads in yet another secret apartment. Boxes have been mailed to the victims families with their shoes in, the boxes are covered with illustrations, which Doug does for a career. He also went to school with Nan and his wife gave him a false alibi for that night
David Weld: Answered Erins ad and is a shoe buyer for a large store.
Gus Boxer: Superintendent in Erins apartment block, has been found in her apartment and was once superintendent of a block where a young woman was found murdered.
And I have to give Clark credit for this, the way she introduces these character and the more you find out about them on the way is superb, I really had no clue as to who the murderer was, although the inklings had started to arise, and I like to think I'm pretty good at guessing 'whodunit' I was getting a wee bit frustrated by this point as writers are usually dropping big hints towards the end of the book, but Clark manages to drop big hints about every character!
Undoubtedly this is one of the best thrillers Clark has written, and that I have read. In fact this probably had me wrinkling my brow in exasperation than did Patricia Cornwells latest book 'Book of The Dead', which did surprise me as Cornwell is regarded as being a much better writer than Clark.
A strong storyline, strong characters that will leave you guessing all the way through, a great cliff-hanger and nail biting end, although the ending is the archetypal rescue of our heroine. It's defiantly not so much the rescue as the revealing of the killer that makes the ending so good.
Whether I would pay the full £6.99 price for it is debatable, but this may be coloured by my own view that if I had a limited amount of money to spend and had a choice between Cornwell and Clark, Cornwell would win, because of her consistently good writing which cannot be said for Clark.
But defiantly worth paying the prices that large supermarkets charge or in one of those discount bookstores.
When a friend needs help collecting data for a TV programme she is planning on personal ad dating, Erin and Darcy are more than happy to help her out by answering ads and going out on a few dates with some of the guys. It's a bit of a laugh and gets them out socialising, not that either of the girls need to use the personal columns to get dates. Erin is a jewellery designer, she's just landed the job that will take her from unknown artist to elite designer and things for Erin could not be better. Darcy is into interior design and business is flourishing. The daughter of celebrities, Darcy has none of the airs and graces that usually accompany such an upbringing and lives quite comfortably by herself. The two are very close friends and have been since childhood. They know each other well and do almost everything together, so when Erin suggests that they answer the same ads it comes as no surprise to Darcy. The guys that place the ads in the personal columns are often not all they make themselves out to be. Liars, adulterers, conmen, those desperate for a free one night stand and the shy 'mummy's boy' types. The ads hide many secrets about the people who put pen to paper to write them, some should be pitied, some exposed, some place the ads for a laugh and others for more sinister reasons. There are all sorts of weirdos lurking between the pages of the personal ads, weirdos and a serial killer called Charley. When Erin goes out on a date and doesn't come back, it is up to Darcy to find out what has happened to her and that means delving deeper into the seedy world of personal ad dating. I first came across this thriller in my doctors waiting room. I was waiting for my appointment and while browsing through one of the womans magazines that was on display I found a section of this book that was being serialised in the magazine. I definitely liked what I read but as with most doctors waiting
rooms, the book was way out of date and there was no way I was going to get to read the other issues and finish the story. I remember leaving the surgery, resolving to buy the book and finish what had been a thoroughly enjoyable read. A few months back I read my first Mary Higgins Clark thriller. It was called On the town and I remember being quite disappointed with it. I found that the killer was all too obvious from very early on in the book and it was only the sub plot that kept me reading to the end. I had made up my mind that Higgins Clark was definitely not for me, when at the back of the book I noticed a list of all the books she had written prior to this one and Loves Music, Loves to Dance was one of them. Recognising this as the book I had read the small section of I went straight to Amazon and ordered it, although I have to say after the one I had just finished, I was not quite as keen as I had previously been. It is with pleasure and a good deal of literary satisfaction that I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that where On the Town failed to captivate me, Loves music, Loves to dance most definitely did. The difference was immediately evident. Where the former left thundering great hints as to who the murderer was, this book was so much more subtle, so much more clever. We are introduced, very early on in the story, to Charley, our serial killer. We are left with no doubt what his intentions are and how twisted his mind is. What is very cleverly hidden is Charley's identity. We are introduced to various characters who might, or might not be Charley. Each of them has their own problems, each of them their own quirky behaviour but is it quirky enough to turn them to cold, calculated murder? Each of them has something to hide, but just how much they are hiding is something we have to decide for ourselves. This book really makes you think about some of the dangers that lurk behind the pretty words that so
me people can write. I receive E- mail from dating agencies and people I don't know, often. It makes you wonder if the person you are talking to is really the person you think they are. This is a very current issue used in this book, which, in my eyes, makes it all the more scary. Did I work out who the killer was, as I had in the previous book? Well yes, but this time it was a hunch and I was anxious to read to the end to see if I was right. I actually let out a great big "Yes!" when I turned out to be right. It was actually a really satisfying feeling because the red herrings that were tossed between the pages definitely had me questioning my reasons for seeing this person as the killer. The characters were strong. Although we only meet Erin very briefly, she is introduced with such care that we genuinely want to know what has happened to her. I think this is very important, seeing as much of the book centres around her fate. Darcy is a strong and determined woman and I think sometimes a character can be so strong that the reader forgets what a vulnerable situation they are in. Mary Higgins Clark is careful to share with us the vulnerable side of her heroine, making her much more realistic and much easier to relate to. Our Serial killer is a truly scary guy. Higgins Clark paints a haunting picture of this person and is careful to show us that there is no remorse for the deeds that have been done. The cold and calculating movements of this madman, leave us in no doubt about the danger that the other characters in the book are in. Loves music, Loves to dance has all the qualities a good thriller should have. It keeps you on your toes. The plot twists and turns without venturing into the realms of the unbelievable. The characters are realistic and I really did like our heroine and cared what happened to her. It was the sort of book that made you want to shout out loud when you saw the main character putt
ing herself in a potentially dangerous situation. All the pieces of the puzzle fitted together at the end of the book, leaving no frayed edges or unanswered questions. The writing is strong and confident, the story flows beautifully. I would definitely recommend this book. It's not a long book, but didn't leave me feeling as if the author had edited large chunks to make it this size. Everything needed to make it a great read is there, believe me. This is a great little book. Suitable for anytime reading. Beware though. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I find myself torn now between the two I have read. One excellent, the other not so good. I think I shall have to read another to make my mind up. Thanks for reading. Mand xx