Friday, November 20, 2015
Thick With Incident
The Shadow of Your Smile was the first Mary Higgins Clark book I ever read, and my main impression was that it was... exhausting! There were four or five ongoing plot lines that had to be resolved when two or three would have been fine. And, every one of the three or four (yes, that many) main characters had either A) a complicated backstory, B) a tragedy still haunting him or her, C) an unresolved romantic situation, or D) a combination of two or more of those things. Oh, and a couple of characters are secretly criminals, too. I kept saying to myself, "Wow, this author is working way too hard!" Any three books could have been produced with all the plots and characters in The Shadow of Your Smile.
Was it bad, though? No, despite all the density, the pacing was pretty good and things moved along. Some of the plotting was clever, and I cared enough about the characters to want to see how everything turned out. The hustle and bustle of New York City and its quieter environs were well described as we moved among offices, hospitals, ritzy mansions, and other locales, as the story advanced. I will say that the characters were a little simplistic and one-note for my taste, with most being either fine, admirable people or shady crooks. Some shades of grey in the characters would have been welcome.
In the end, this story of family secrets and a criminal cabal's attempt to divert a kindly doctor's inheritance into its own pockets was an acceptable, amiable diversion, and I'll give another Clark book a try before too long. I just hope the next one is a little more relaxed and less dense with material that I need to work hard to keep straight in my head!
"The Shadow of Your Smile", originally published a few years ago, is easily available in paperback, unabridged audio, and Kindle editions.