‘Queen of Suspense’ Mary Higgins Clark dies aged 92 | Books | The Guardian

Mary Higgins , the “ Suspense” who topped charts with each her 56 , has died at the of 92.

& Schuster Carolyn Reidy that Higgins Clark died on 31 January in Naples, , from complications of age. The published her novel, Where Are the ? in 1975, going on to sell more than 100m copies of her compulsive suspense novels in the alone. She published her most recent thriller, the Girls and Make Them Cry, about a investigating sexual misconduct at a network, in November.

author Alafair Burke, who collaborated with Higgins Clark on the Under Suspicion , said she would “miss my friend and , but consider myself one of the luckiest around to have had the to tell with one of my favourite , the Queen of Suspense.

“Through it , I marvelled at Mary’s kindness, loyalty, and utter devotion to the of being a . She could write me under the table, insisting we could get a few more pages in when I felt a snack break coming,” said Burke on . “When we went to an outdoor book festival in August, I kept sneaking off to the air-conditioned ladies’ room, but Mary stayed at the table and posed in the for after the had sold out.”

Higgins Clark’s fellow authors spoke of her generosity, especially to writers. Harlan Coben said he was heartbroken to learn of Higgins Clark’s , describing her as “a generous mentor, hero, colleague, and friend” who “taught me so much”. Laura Lippman called her a trailblazer, adding that “so many of us owe our careers to her”. Turow said she was “an extraordinarily gracious person, unpretentious and remarkably generous in a hundred ways”.

In her memoir, Kitchen Privileges, Higgins Clark wrote of “aching, yearning, burning” to write when she was young. It was an achievement made in the face of heavy . Her father died when she was 11, and she went to secretarial after graduating from high in in . She went on to work as an air stewardess. After for a year, she married Clark, who she had known since she was 16. She sold her first short in 1956, for $100. After Clark died in 1964, she began writing scripts for a living, while also trying her hand as a . She would write from 5am to 7am, before getting her five children ready for school.


“My mother’s in me kept alive my dream to be a writer. My father’s death left her with three young children to . A generation later my husband’s death left me in exactly that position, except that I had five children,” she wrote.

“Mother us by renting rooms, allowing our paying guests to have the privilege of preparing meals in the kitchen. I supported my by writing radio shows. Very early in the morning I put my typewriter on the kitchen table before I went to work in and spent a few privileged and priceless hours working on my first novel.”

She sold Where Are the Children? when she was 47. Telling of a young mother who has fled her original after the death of her first two children, only for her two to disappear, it was a hit. taught it in his classes, and Coben recalled a letter from the Infinite Jest author, in which he called it “one of the scariest fucking books I’ ever read”. (“ about the , Mary!” Coben added.)

She wrote, she told in 2015, about “very nice people whose lives are invaded”. In 1988, she struck what the New Times reported was “the first eight-figure agreement involving a single author”, with a multi-book contract that guaranteed her at least $10.1m. Given the Authors Guild award for Distinguished Services to the Literary in 2018, she was the recipient of numerous and 21 honorary doctorates, and saw many of her books adapted for and television.

others decide whether or not I’m a good writer. I know I’m a good Irish storyteller,” she said, when she was the grand of the St Patrick’s Day in Manhattan in 2011.

Corda, her at Simon & Schuster since 1975, said: “She always set out to end each chapter on a note of suspense, so just had to keep . It was a gift, but also the result of hard work … She was . Nobody ever bonded more completely with her readers; she understood them as if they were members of her own family. She was always absolutely sure of what they wanted to read – and, perhaps more , what they didn’t want to read – and yet she managed to surprise them with every book.”

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