You Don’t Own Me by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke - book review: Fast-paced and entertaining

You Dont Own Me by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
You Dont Own Me by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
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An elderly couple are determined to discover the truth behind the unsolved murder of their well-known doctor son in the fifth novel of the popular Under Suspicion series.

For over 30 years, Mary Higgins Clark has been delighting readers with her smart, beautifully written murder mysteries, but there is a fresh and exciting element to this cosy but compelling ‘cold case’ series.

The added ingredient is co-author Alafair Burke, a trained lawyer and thriller writer whose gripping novels, including Long Gone, If You Were Here and All Day And A Night, are often drawn from real-life cases and her own personal and professional experiences.

Together these two talented writers are proving a formidable team, harnessing Clark’s powerful storytelling and experience with Burke’s gift for suspense and authenticity.

Packed with tension and intrigue, a cast of cleverly created characters and some unexpected twists and turns, these edge-of the-seat mysteries deliver high drama, red herrings and fascinating detective work.

Head of the cast list is New York television producer Laurie Moran whose reality drama Under Suspicion is proving a big success. The cold case TV series revisits unsolved true crimes by recreating them with the family of the victim and others involved in the case in the hope of finding new evidence.

Widow Laurie’s personal life has never looked better. Engaged to her show’s former host and now full-time lawyer, Alex Buckley, the pair have been happily planning a summer wedding and honeymoon while also preparing for Alex’s appointment as a federal judge, and searching for the perfect New York City home for their new life together.

Amidst all the domestic arrangements, Laurie is approached by Robert and Cynthia Bell, parents of Dr Martin Bell, a famously charming and talented physician who was shot dead as he pulled into the driveway of his upmarket Greenwich Village house five years ago.

The Bells have always been convinced that Martin’s disgraced and volatile wife Kendra carried out the murder. Kendra was his beautiful, stay-at-home wife who gave up her own medical career to raise their two children, Bobby and Mindy.

But cracks had appeared in their marriage. Kendra suspected that Martin wasn’t the kind and generous man she fell in love with, and Martin believed that Kendra was hiding a drinking habit. What else could explain her rapid personality change?

Determined to prove Kendra’s guilt and win custody over their two grandchildren, the Bells plead with Laurie to feature their son’s case on Under Suspicion, assuring her that Kendra is willing to co-operate.

Kendra has lived under a blanket of suspicion since Martin’s death, with the tabloid media depicting her as a secretive, mentally unstable gold-digger. She feels Laurie’s show is a chance for her to clear her name.

But Kendra has already refused once before to agree to a re-investigation of her husband’s murder, and her statements to the contrary only add to the appearance of guilt.

As Laurie delves into the case and tries to untangle the web of lies ensnaring the Bell family, what she doesn’t know is that a dangerous stranger is watching her from afar… and soon her own life is under threat.

This delightful series has invested much in not just the compelling murder mysteries but in the warmth and charm of the regular players who cannot fail to win hearts with their vibrant personalities, their endearing sense of camaraderie, and the domestic ups and downs that make them so authentic.

In this enthralling new case we encounter some dangerous politicking, a menacing stalker and some final twists that will set readers reeling as Laurie and her dogged team dig deep into a murder mystery that has held a family mentally captive for five years.

Fast-paced and entertaining, this is another excellent addition to the Under Suspicion series.

(Simon & Schuster, hardback, £20)