April 17, 2024

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Carol Higgins Clark, suspense writer who added a sense of humor, dies at 66

Carol Higgins Clark, acclaimed suspense novel writer, infused the corpse genre and clues with doses of black humor, while also coddling with her mother, famed mystery author Mary Higgins Clark, on June 12 at a hospital in Los Angeles. She was 66 years old.

A family statement said the cause was appendicitis cancer.

Mrs. Clarke has built her literary brand around the character of Regan Riley, a fictional private eye who has some backstory on her resume. Riley’s mother was a famous mystery novelist. Like Mrs. Clark, Riley grew up in New Jersey and drifted to the West Coast.

More than a dozen books by Mrs. Clarke Riley also dealt with issues that often followed Mrs. Clarke’s life. “decorated” (1992), Mrs. Clarke’s first novel, parallels a cold-blooded murder case in England, where Mrs. Clarke spent a semester at university. in “debris” (2010), a mysterious death is investigated on Cape Cod, where Mrs. Clarke vacationed several summers. Conspiracy “attack” (2011) involves trying to prevent bloodshed on a New Jersey beach.

“As a writer, you always use what you know and take things from life,” Mrs. Clarke said Tell Montreal Radio in 1995. “Sure, I think there’s some me in Reagan.”

Mrs. Clark did not intend to follow her mother’s literary career. She aspired to become an actress. Mrs. Clarke found her calling as a writer while helping to write the final versions of some of her mother’s manuscripts in the 1970s.

Discuss plots and characters. Ms. Clarke provided suggestions for dialogue and references to make it more realistic for younger readers. “That’s when it all began,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Clarke was landing acting roles. She had a role in the Off-Broadway remake of Wendy Wasserman’s play Uncommon Women and Others as well as a few TV movies. When “Where are the children?” in 1986 film From her mother’s account, Mrs. Clarke was cast in a small part as a television reporter. She then played the female lead, a woman terrified of her new husband, in 1992 film A copy of her mother’s book, “A Cry in the Night.”

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In the same year, Mrs. Clarke’s “Decked” was published, introducing the gumshoe character Reilly and Mrs. Clarke’s tendency to curl in light-hearted banter and sarcastic remarks as a mystery is unraveled. In this case, Riley returns from Britain by ship after her long-lost roommate’s body is found during a class reunion.

Mrs. Clarke described the shoes of an elderly woman on board as “like gunboats that stop on her thick ankles”. In the stalker’s secret “Twanged” (1998), Mrs. Clark comically mutilated the Hamptons. Riley is surrounded by a strange clique including a “printed fortune” heir, a teacher who calls himself a man of peace and a feng shui enthusiast who can’t stop rearranging the furniture.

Body plot on the beach from “burnt” (2005) unfolds when Riley visits Hawaii for her bachelor party before her wedding. A friend begs Riley to “comfort me with my bridesmaid dresses.” Riley replies, “I was actually thinking of a plaid pantsuit.”

The Washington Post reviewer Sarah Booth Conroy called Mary Higgins-Clark’s style “deadly earnest novels about the kind of horrific fears that plague women in the middle of the night.” However, her daughter, “spoons in a little lecherous, soup of slapstick.”

“Everyone in our family is like this,” Mrs. Clarke said in a Montreal radio interview. We always told stories and jokes. My mother says being Irish helps. It was always the way I grew up, with a lot of humor at the dinner table.”

“I keep counting down the killing,” she added.

Reviewers generally viewed Mrs. Clarke’s stabs at humor positively but were more mixed with the product overall. Booklist review She said Mrs. Clarke’s style “hovers on the edge of cliché, and there’s no suspense to speak of” but ends up providing “a kind of mindless good time”.

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For nearly a decade, Ms. Clarke joined forces to write thrillers for the holiday season with her mother, who passed away in 2020. In some accounts, including “Deck the Halls” (2000) and “Christmas thief” (2004), Mrs. Clarke’s detective, Riley, meets one of the recurring characters of her mother, Alvira Meehan, a lottery winner who becomes an amateur detective.

Mrs. Clark has always been a soft spot for Alvira Meehan. You saved her life in the literary sense. While reading a copy of her mother’s story in 1987 book“Don’t cry any more, ma’am,” Mrs. Clarke was distraught at Meehan’s murder. Mrs. Clarke thought her too interesting a character to lose.

“You can’t kill Elvira either,” Mrs. Clark said He remembers She tells her mother. “Well, I begged for Elvira’s life and kept her alive.”

Carol Ann Higgins Clark was born on July 28, 1956 in Manhattan and raised in Washington Township in northern New Jersey. Her father, who worked as a sales manager for Capital Airlines, died when she was eight years old.

She graduated in 1978 from the College of Mount Holyoke and then studied acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.

In October 2006, New York Yankees pitcher and flight coach Corey Liddell was killed when their small plane crashed into an Upper East Side building. Mrs. Clarke’s apartment, which was only one floor away from the impact, was badly damaged. You weren’t home at the time.

Most recently she lived in West Hollywood and was active in Los Angeles area charities that help homeless people and others with disabilities. Recorded a public service video supporting a foundation researching appendicitis cancer.

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Among the survivors are sister Marilyn and brothers Warren and David. Her sister, Patricia, passed away in 2020.

Mrs. Clarke often took part in monthly lunches with other mystery and suspense writers. Once upon a time, author Warren Murphy asked each of them to describe the most terrifying sound they would make if they were alone in the house at 3 a.m. of their choice: “a flushing toilet.”

Soon after, Mrs. Clarke was spending the night alone at her mother’s house in New Jersey. I heard the elevator. “I ran out of that house very quickly,” she said, and called the police. Finally learned that the elevator automatically returns to the second floor.

“This is the kind of thing you try to capture as a writer,” she said Tell audience in 2014, “Because that’s the scary stuff.”