Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

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Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: A collection of entertaining mystery stories from the Queen of Suspense.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 320 Date: December 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
External links: [ Author's website]
ISBN: 9781471143229

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In 1972, Mary Higgins Clark began writing a novella entitled Death Wears a Beauty Mask. She struggled with the story and put it aside, where it lay forgotton for several decades. When the author rediscovered the manuscript amongst some old files, she decided that she liked it and was ready to complete the long-awaited ending. Death Wears a Beauty Mask joins some of her other works, both old and new, in an entertaining collection of short stories full of mystery and suspense.

The first thing that struck me when reading this collection was the chameleon-like versatility of the author. Her skill in writing compelling fiction in a variety of styles is impressive. The mystery stories are full of suspense, action and plenty of red-herrings, but she is equally comfortable writing poignant and emotional pieces, like the heartbreaking When the Bough Breaks, which is about a mother who has lost a child. The Cape Cod Masquerade takes us in yet another direction, with a warm, humorous tale featuring a larger-than-life amateur sleuth and her long suffering husband. We also take a journey into the Twilight Zone when a young wife hears Voices in the Coalbin. As well as 'cosy' mysteries, we also have some tales of seriously disturbed individuals, such as the creepy The Man Next Door and a deranged psychopath who wants revenge for his execution in a previous life in Haven't We Met Before? There really is something for everyone and the stories are consistently engaging, which isn't always the case with short story collections.

Higgins Clark excels at writing characters. The individuals in each story, whether villains or heroes are three-dimensional people who leap off the page and stay with the reader. My absolute favourites have to be Alvirah and Willy, a couple of overweight lottery winners on a round-the-world vacation, who just happen to stumble upon the odd murder or two on their travels! The interaction between the characters is endearing and amusing; curious, prying Alvirah and her poor husband who just wants to enjoy his holiday and relax. Another memorable character, who stuck in my mind for completely different reasons, was the chilling loner August Mensch, an obsessive-compulsive with a predilection for kidnapping young women and keeping them hostage in his 'secret place.'

Unfortunately, despite her writing talents, Mary Higgins Clark has a habit of sticking to the same formula when it comes to the resolution or denouement of her stories. They usually involve a young woman, alone and vulnerable, with the murderer about to close in on her with intent to do harm. The situation seems impossible, but thankfully, our hero has managed to piece together the evidence and has discovered the identity of the murderer. Just as our poor damsel in distress is about to meet her end, the hero bursts in and rescues her. Six of the ten short stories in this book end this way and many a good story is let down by a sub-par conclusion.

Death Wears a Beauty Mask is an ideal holiday read and the stories are just the right length to devour in a single session. Readers of all ages will enjoy this collection of suspense stories and I personally look forward to reading more of her work, which has become something of a guilty pleasure.

I am a big fan of Mary Higgins Clark's Under Suspicion series, which is about a TV show featuring cold murder cases. Bookbag recommends The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burkefor those who enjoy this genre.

Buy Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark at

Buy Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark at


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