Title: Moonlight Becomes You
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster
Read for: Queen of Suspense Challenge
Newport, Rhode Island: a world of old money, old names, and sinister secrets. Maggie Holloway, a fashion photographer, goes to visit a woman who had once been her stepmother, but when she arrives, the woman is dead, the victim of a violent robbery. Maggie is stunned when she learns that she’s the beneficiary of the will – and even more stunned when she recognizes a pattern of murder in Newport society that will lead the killer straight to her. (goodreads.com)
The beginning of the novel is somewhat slow; it introduces you to a lot of characters all at once, and expects you to keep up. I don’t really have a lot of experience reading mystery/suspense, but I felt like the first couple of chapters (especially just before Nuala’s dinner party, when everyone was getting ready) were more of an info dump than actual narration: see the characters; see how they interact with their husbands/wives. Once we move past the dinner party, things start picking up. Maggie starts snooping around and taking photographs.
Actually, I was really pleased with Maggie’s artistic talent. It wasn’t just a way for her to snoop around in the cemetery; she actually works at creating a clay bust of Nuala, based mostly on pictures that she finds or is given. Sometimes, authors give characters “talents” as a means to an end, and they don’t really do anything else with them. We see Maggie working at a photo shoot for a difficult director; she works with clay; she takes photos of the gravestones in the cemetery. Maggie obviously favors taking photos to anything else, but she has her hands in other types of art as well.
What I really didn’t understand was the introduction of the new coroner. She plays a tiny part, but she doesn’t contribute anything crucial. She’s just there, and then she’s gone. I think she’s mentioned in a total of five pages, maybe less. The plot would have moved along without her.
The relationship between Neil and Maggie is odd, too. Towards the beginning of the novel, we are told that Maggie keeps Neil at a distance because he keeps her at a distance. However, we discover that Neil saw Maggie crying in a mostly-empty theater at a movie, and he didn’t comfort her. We are then told that Maggie kept Neil at a distance because he didn’t comfort her, but when Neil first tells the story he doesn’t think Maggie knew he was there. The relationship keeps twisting and second-guessing itself, and I found myself less interested in their relationship than I was in who-dun-it.
I won’t spoil the who-dun-it, but I will say that, despite my experience in reading mystery/suspense, I was able to guess who-dun-it. Though it did bounce back and forth for a while, I was able to narrow it down and cancel out a few on the list before the characters discovered the culprit.
To be honest, while I enjoyed this book, I probably wouldn’t read it again (mostly because the who-dun-it is now spoiled). Mystery/suspense just isn’t my thing. I found some of the characters to be too inconsistent, and the storylines seemed to twist to fit what the author wanted. For me, the relationships between some of the characters just didn’t flow too well.
Originally posted on October 10, 2010