Mary Higgins Clark's 22nd romantic thriller is destined for bestsellerdom on the strength of her reputation alone. Which is not to say that Before I Say Good-Bye
doesn't have a bit of all the ingredients of the Clark genre: a little mystery, a likable heroine, and even a nice guy who turns up midway through the novel and promises her romance and a second chance at happiness. But while the set-up is promising and the bare essentials of a compelling read are all here, only readers who are already Higgins fans will be kept completely spellbound.
Nell MacDermott is the politically ambitious granddaughter of a canny politician in Manhattan's silk stocking district, and her grandfather wants her to run for his old congressional seat. But there are rumors that Adam Cauliff, Nell's husband, has been involved in a real estate and construction scam, and until Nell gets to the bottom of this her political future will be clouded. When Adam and his assistant are killed in an explosion aboard his boat, Nell is determined to clear his name. Nudged into action by her nascent psychic powers and a medium who may be her only link to Adam, Nell learns more about her husband's mysterious past than she bargained for and--naturally--stumbles onto a conspiracy that puts her own life in danger. The narrative seems more like an outline for a novel than a novel itself; the characters are sketched rather than fully explored--particularly Nell, whose back story doesn't provide enough information to make her actions understandable. But the pacing is expert, and Clark's dedicated fans will doubtless forgive her for not making this her strongest outing. --Jane Adams
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From Publishers Weekly
Romantic suspense has no more reliable champion than Clark, despite the relative weakness of her writing. For 25 years, through 22 novels (counting this one), she has delivered respectable entertainment to her legions of fans, who haven't dwindled in number. This novel, too, gives them what they want--a damsel in distress aided by a dashing knight; and Clark adds a little zest to the formula by weaving psychic phenomena, including messages from the dead, throughout. The damsel is columnist Nell McDermot, granddaughter of legendary Manhattan congressman Cornelius McDermott and about to run for office herself. Nell's plans are put on hold when the ship on which her husband, Adam, an architect, is attending a business meeting is blown to pieces. Evidence surfaces that Adam may have been involved in shady deals; meanwhile, the cops investigate the explosion, with suspicion falling on a petty hood looking for vengeance for one of those deals; a new man--stalwart physician Dan Minor--enters Nell's life, as does a psychic who claims to be channeling Nell's dead husband; and a predatory real-estate developer circles Nell and property she's inherited from Adam. For much of the novel, the danger is more implied than actual, like dark clouds amassing in the sky, and often manifests itself psychically as Nell sees black auras envelop people or feels terribly afraid. The novel's finale, however, which unmasks some unexpected villains, pulls out the stops in melodramatic fashion. Clark's characters aren't deep--after donating old clothes to charity, two of them, "feeling virtuous for having done a good deed had lunch at a new Thai restaurant on Second and Eighty-first"--but they're breezy fun, and so is this confection of a book. 1.1 million first printing; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club Main Selection; simultaneous S&S Audio; 7-city author tour. (Apr.)
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