I first read Mary Higgins Clark when I was in my teens and early twenties, eagerly reading them for several years, before moving onto other writers. I was therefore intrigued when I was sent this book to review, to see whether or not her books still had the same power over me. Mary Higgins Clark had her first book published in 1975, and has since then published nearly forty books.
The central character of this book, as with all her other books is a youngish career woman in her late thirties. Her name is Laurie Moran, and has a ten year-old son Tommy, and a widower father Leo, a retired police officer. Laurie’s life is threatened when her investigations into a twenty year-old murder, unearth secrets that have been successfully hidden from view. So far - familiar Higgins Clark territory. With this book however, we encounter some new ingredients.
The first significant change is that this book is the first in a series, using the characters and plot device of her previous novel I’ve got you under my skin. In that novel Laurie Moran created and produced a reality TV show called under suspicion. This show investigated an old unsolved murder, and solved it by dint of locating and interviewing live on TV all the original suspects, and then revealing the killer. Also in this novel is a murderer known by the nickname “blue eyes”, who murdered Laurie’s husband Greg in front of their son Tommy. Greg’s murder and the aftermath of it, is one of the main themes of the novel.
The other significant change is that she is again paired up with a younger co-writer, this time Alafair Burke. Higgins Clark had earlier in her career co-written three books with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, and seems to work well with other writers.
The Cinderella Murder is about Susan Dempsey, UCLA student, computer geek and aspiring actress, who is murdered on her way to an audition at the up and coming film director Frank Parker’s house. As in all these cases, everyone except her mother Rosemary Dempsey have lots of secrets to hide, mostly related to the dodgy church Advocates for God, and its sinister founder and leader Martin Collins. The reinvestigation stirs up these issues, resulting in two more murders, two attempted murders and a suicide.
I enjoyed the book, finding the majority of the characters likeable and engaging, although I found that Laurie and Alex Buckley were somewhat colourless. I particularly liked Grace and Jerry, Laurie’s assistants; her dad and the software co-founder Dwight Collins. I also found it interesting the ways in which society has changed in the past twenty years, especially with the use of technology. I liked the concept of the cold cases reality show, and can see why her publishers persuaded her to turn the earlier book into a series.