“ Author: Mary Higgins Clark / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 30 March 2005 / Genre: Crime & Thriller / Publisher: Simon & Schuster / Title: Night-time is My Time / ISBN 13: 9780743489591 / ISBN 10: 0743489591 / Alternative EAN: 9780743257282 „
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Mary Higgins-Clarke is not one of my all time favourite authors but I do have copies of quite a few of her books as they are a light read and when travelling around the country on trains etc I can normally get through one quite quickly. Whilst her books are not perhaps as simplistic as an Agatha Christie they are no where near as many twists and sub plots as you may find in a Ruth Rendell novel.
The book its self is presented in very short chapters so for those who only read a few chapters at a time it is ideal as it does give several places in which you can stop for the night. In general her writing style is good and the plot lines do come together well One of the things which Higgins-Clarke does well is in the description of the main characters in fact this is what the first few chapters do giving you a background to each one as well as how they have progressed in the 20 years from when they were at school to where they are as the novel begins. This means you are not turning back through the book as you are asking 'who was that again' The main problem for me in this book is that I found it a bit too predictable as a crime novel and it is not one I would read again. This in no way means I would not recommend it as it does make an ideal read for a long train journey or flight.
The plot centres on one main character and some of the people she was at school with.
Jean Sheridan has not had an easy life. When she was growing up her parents would constantly argue in public and were the subject of the gossipers of the town. On top of this she fell pregnant and before her baby was born the father was killed in an apparent hit and run. Jean believed giving her daughter up for adoption was the best thing to do....
It is now 20 years since then and as the main story begins Jean is rather reluctantly on her way to a reunion of her school year. All but one of her friends, or that should be those she sat with for lunch each day, will not be there. They have all died in different accidents - or were they accidents? No one seriously thinks anything is wrong as they begin to gather at the hotel let alone that the deaths are connected in any way. Then Jean starts to receive faxes which make her blood run cold as they threaten the life of 'Lily' the daughter she gave up for adoption but no one knew about that, or so she thought.
Who is behind this? Who has been killing these random women apparently without motive? Slowly Jean realises with growing fear that it is all to do with her lunch table, all but two who were at that table are dead and the other one who is still alive has just gone missing.....
Whilst Higgins-Clarke does do a good job of building the suspense of this novel to a point but the final actual outcome was not unexpected as in this novel the author does not throw enough 'red-herrings' in to throw the reader off the sent. However, for me some of the truths about what happened were revealed far too early on in the book and this made it that bit easier to work out who was behind the crimes. That being said this is one of the better Higgins-Clarke books which I have read as everything is tied together well at the end. I will probably read more of her books in the future.
I paid £6.99 for my copy which is a hardback which I got via my book club.
Mary Higgins-Clark is one of those authors that I will happily read, though she doesn't rank in my favourites list of Horror writers. I suppose some people might question this and put her books under crime/thrillers, but it's a fine line between the two genres. Since she has written so many books, I feel obliged to give her a few lines of introduction, though it will be short since I do intend to review the author at a later date.
She was born in New York and raised there, the daughter of an Irish immigrant and brought up by her mother when her father died when she was just ten year's old. She became a help to her mother, doing odd jobs and then leaving school at an early age to bring money into the household. She started writing over thirty years ago and her books equal that number, with no sign of her letting up, though she must be in her 80's by now.
Jean Sheridan never wanted to go to her old high-school reunion, her memories of those latter days just before her graduation were far too painful. But twenty years on, Stonecroft Academy has chosen to award medals to seven of its most popular graduates, who all came from the same class so many years ago. However, one will be awarded posthumously.
Alison Kendall, the head of a major talent agency and Jean's own book agent was found dead in her swimming pool just a month ago. That is part of the reason why Jean consents to go back to the town of Cornwall-on-Hudson, near to West Point, where her lover, Reed Thornton Jr had been killed in a tragic accident just before she found out she was carrying his child. For Jean is receiving faxes from someone who knows that she gave up her baby, a girl she had called Lily, for adoption before she continued her own scholarship. Someone is threatening the life of the daughter she has never seen since the day she gave birth to her. That someone has to have become privy to her medical notes, since the birth and adoption was arranged through a doctor in the same town.
Jean has to try and find out who this person is, but it's not going to be easy. The doctor who arranged the birth in Chicago and the adoptive parents has died and it's almost impossible for Jean to trace any records. Worse still, it appears that any of her classmates at the reunion could have found out her secret. With no-one she can trust and a chilling realisation that many of her female friends of that last year have died in mysterious circumstance, Jean doesn't know where to turn to for help.
This has always been one of the author's strengths and in this book she has gone all out to provide the reader with both suspects for murder and a glimpse of college graduates in their formative years and now in the present. There are some wonderfully sketched characters in the book, in particular those who are being honoured for their various expertises.
The author almost always reveals the mind of the killer, though never before has she offered us so many candidates for that role.
Jean's colleagues have gone on to better themselves, and since many of the ones still alive are male, then each one is a suspect. I'm not spoiling the story with the admission that the killer is male, it's on the very first page.
What does jar a lot is the fact that so many of the former "nerds" went on to make a success of their lives. Then there is the number of Jean's female friends that have died young in accidents, supposed suicides and at least one suspicious death.
I think we can forgive the author this, as it's a classic whodunit which is always fun to try and guess the identity.
Jean herself is an interesting character who I feel may be based on the author's own life. If so, this could be the model of almost all her past heroines laid bare. I'd like to think so.
This is a finally crafted book that is, in my mind, one of the authors best. She uses a tried and tested formula for her books, but with this one I think she has pushed her writing a little further than the norm. I don't know the area of America she writes about. This is a pity as she bases all her books in her own country. Her prose is good, but doesn't quite explain the location to the reader.
What she does do so well is to create a taught situation with so much suspense that you don't want to put the book down. You won't find any goriness in her books, instead she relies on that creeping horror we all have encountered from time to time.
In this case her protagonist could be anyone out of a select group of people. We know he's probably charming and although he does think of avenging himself against those that taunted him in college, doesn't this fit many of those who were not the most popular in their class? That feeling of someone creeping up behind you is universal and this is what Mary Higgins-Clark uses to great effect in this book.
For the Owl, as he thinks of himself, is a predator, a silent and deadly bird of prey.
My copy of the book is one of those that have been re-published from the original in 2004 under the name of Pocket Books. The Amazon prices are £5.49 new or buy it from 1p plus postage of £2.75. I paid £2 for my copy which is excellent condition.
Thanks for Reading
©Lisa Fuller March 2008.
The definition of an owl had always pleased him: I am the owl, he would whisper to himself after he had selected his prey, and night-time is my time. Jean Sheridan, a prominent historian, returns to her hometown to attend the twenty-year reunion of Stonecroft Academy, where she is to be honoured along with six other members of her class. There is, however, something uneasy in the air: one woman in the group, Alison Kenall, a beautiful, high-powered Hollywood agent, died just a few days before, drowned in her pool during an early morning swim. She is the fifth woman in the class whose life has come to a sudden, mysterious end. At the award dinner, Jean does not suspect that among the distinguished people she is greeting is the Owl, a murderer nearing the countdown on his mission of vengeance against the Stonecroft women who had mocked or humiliated him, with Jean his final intended victim.