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The Cradle Will Fall [Mass Market Paperback]

Mary Higgins Clark
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 1991
A minor road accident landed county prosecutor Katie DeMaio in Westlake Hospital. That night, from her window, she thought she saw a man load a woman's body into the trunk of a car...or was it just a sleeping pill induced nightmare? At work the next day, Katie began investigating a suicide that looked more like murder. Initial evidence pointed elsewhere, but medical examiner Richard Carroll saw a trail leading to Dr. Edgar Highley. He suspected that the famous doctor's work "curing" infertile women was more than controversial -- that it was deceitful, depraved, and often deadly. But before Richard could tell Katie his fears, she left the office for the weekend and an appointment for routine surgery...in Dr. Highley's operating room.

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About the Author

Mary Higgins Clark, #1 international and New York Times bestselling author, has written thirty-three suspense novels; three collections of short stories; a historical novel, Mount Vernon Love Story; two children’s books, including The Magical Christmas Horse; and a memoir, Kitchen Privileges. She is also the coauthor with Carol Higgins Clark of five holiday suspense novels. Her books have sold more than 100 million copies in the United States alone.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

If her mind had not been on the case she had won, Katie might not have taken the curve so fast, but the intense satisfaction of the guilty verdict was still absorbing her. It had been a close one. Roy O'Connor was one of the top defense attorneys in New Jersey. The defendant's confession had been suppressed by the court, a major blow for the prosecution. But still she had managed to convince the jury that Teddy Copeland was the man who had viciously murdered eighty-year-old Abigail Rawlings during a robbery.

Miss Rawlings' sister, Margaret, was in court to hear the verdict and afterward had come up to Katie. "You were wonderful, Mrs. DeMaio," she'd said. "You look like a young college girl. I never would have thought you could, but when you talked, you proved every point; you made them feel what he did to Abby. What will happen now?"

"With his record, let's hope the judge decides to send him to prison for the rest of his life," Katie answered.

"Thank God," Margaret Rawlings had said. Her eyes, already moist and faded with age, filled with tears. Quietly she brushed them away as she said, "I miss Abby so. There was just the two of us left. And I keep thinking how frightened she must have been. It would have been awful if he'd gotten away with it."

"He didn't get away with it!" The memory of that reassurance distracted Katie now, made her press her foot harder on the accelerator. The sudden increase in speed as she rounded the curve made the car fishtail on the sleet-covered road.

"Oh...no!" She gripped the wheel frantically. The county road was dark. The car raced across the divider and spun around. From the distance she saw headlights approaching.

She turned the wheel into the skid but could not control the car. It careened onto the shoulder of the road, but the shoulder too was a sheet of ice. Like a skier about to jump, the car poised for an instant at the edge of the shoulder, its wheels lifting as it slammed down the steep embankment into the wooded fields.

A dark shape loomed ahead: a tree. Katie felt the sickening crunch as metal tore into bark. The car shuddered. Her body was flung forward against the wheel, then slammed backward. She raised her arms in front of her face, trying to protect it from the splinters of flying glass that exploded from the windshield. Sharp, biting pain attacked her wrists and knees. The headlights and panel lights went out. Dark, velvety blackness was closing over her as from somewhere off in the distance she heard a siren.

The sound of the car door opening; a blast of cold air. "My God, it's Katie DeMaio!"

A voice she knew. Tom Coughlin, that nice young cop. He testified at a trial last week.

"She's unconscious."

She tried to protest, but her lips wouldn't form words. She couldn't open her eyes.

"The blood's coming from her arm. Looks like she's cut an artery."

Her arm was being held; something tight was pressing against it.

A different voice: "She may have internal injuries, Tom Westlake's right down the road. I'll call for an ambulance. You stay with her."

Floating. Floating. I'm all right. It's just that I can't reach you.

Hands lifting her onto a stretcher; she felt a blanket covering her, sleet pelting her face.

She was being carried. A car was moving. No, it was an ambulance. Doors opening and closing. If only she could make them understand. I can hear you. I'm not unconscious.

Tom was giving her name. "Kathleen DeMaio, lives in Abbington. She's an assistant prosecutor. No, she's not married. She's a widow. Judge DeMaio's widow."

John's widow. A terrible sense of aloneness. The blackness was starting to recede. A light was shining in her eyes. "She's coming around. How old are you, Mrs. DeMaio?"

The question, so practical, so easy to answer. At last she could speak. "Twenty-eight."

The tourniquet Tom had wrapped around her arm was being removed. Her arm was being stitched. She tried not to wince at the needles of pain.

X-rays. The emergency-room doctor. "You're quite fortunate, Mrs. DeMaio. Some pretty severe bruises. No fractures. I've ordered a transfusion. Your blood count is pretty low. Don't be frightened. You'll be all right."

"It's just..." She bit her lip. She was coming back into focus and managed to stop herself before she blurted out that terrible, unreasoning, childish fear of hospitals.

Tom asking, "Do you want us to call your sister? They're going to keep you here overnight."

"No. Molly's just over the flu. They've all had it." Her voice sounded so weak. Tom had to bend over to hear her.

"All right, Katie. Don't worry about anything. I'll have your car hauled out."

She was wheeled into a curtained-off section of the emergency room. Blood began dripping through a tube inserted into her right arm. Her head was clearing now.

Her left arm and knees hurt so much. Everything hurt. She was in a hospital. She was alone.

A nurse was smoothing her hair back from her forehead. "You're going to be fine, Mrs. DeMaio. Why are you crying?"

"I'm not crying." But she was.

She was wheeled into a room. The nurse handed her a paper cup of water and a pill. "This will help you rest, Mrs. DeMaio."

Katie was sure this must be a sleeping pill. She didn't want it. It would give her nightmares. But it was so much easier not to argue.

The nurse turned off the light. Her footsteps made soft padding sounds as she left the room. The room was cold. The sheets were cold and coarse. Did hospital sheets always feel like this? Katie slid into sleep knowing the nightmare was inevitable.

But this time it took a different form. She was on a roller coaster. It kept climbing higher and higher, steeper and steeper, and she couldn't get control of it. She was trying to get control. Then it went around a curve and off the tracks and it was falling. She woke up trembling just before it hit the ground.

Sleet rapped on the window. She pulled herself up unsteadily. The window was open a crack and making the shade rattle. That was why the room was so drafty. She'd close the window and raise the shade and then maybe she'd be able to sleep. In the morning she could go home. She hated hospitals.

Unsteadily she walked over to the window. The hospital gown they'd given her barely came to her knees. Her legs were cold. And that sleet. It was mixed with more rain now. She leaned against the windowsill, looked out.

The parking lot was turning into streams of gushing water.

Katie gripped the shade and stared down into the lot two stories below.

The trunk lid of a car was going up slowly. She was so dizzy now. She swayed, let go of the shade, and it snapped up. She grabbed the windowsill. She stared down into the trunk. Was something white floating down into it? A blanket? A large bundle?

She must be dreaming this, she thought, then Katie pushed her hand over her mouth to muffle the shriek that tore at her throat. She was staring down into the trunk of the car. The trunk light was on. Through the waves of sleet-filled rain that slapped against the window, she watched the white substance part. As the trunk closed she saw a face -- the face of a woman grotesque in the uncaring abandon of death.

Copyright © 1980 by Mary Higgins Clark


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
If her mind had not been on the case she had won, Katie might not have taken the curve so fast, but the intense satisfaction of the guilty verdict was still absorbing her. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cradle Will Fall June 30 2006
Format:Library Binding
Katie DeMaio, a thirty-one-year-old assistant New Jersey county prosecutor and the widow of Judge John DeMaio, who had tragically died a few years before of cancer, has just been in a car accident, and has landed herself in the nearby prestigious Westlake Hospital. Katie dazedly attempts to stop the nurse from giving her a sleeping pill, for she knows it will give her nightmares, but it is no use. And before she knows it, Katie is fast asleep in the eerie darkness and silence of the hospital. Then, in the middle of the night, Katie wakes up and looks to the window. In the light of the moon, she sees a dark figure loading something heavy in a sack into a truck. The figure loses control of the sack, and then Katie sees a woman's dead face sticking out of the sack.

Little did Katie know that the dark figure was Dr. Edgar Highley, Westlake's leading doctor of the Westlake Maternity Concept, who has recently found a "miracle cure" for seemingly infertile women. Dr. Highley had seen the open window that night, and after he has found out that the window was from Katie's room he realizes that he needs to silence the only witness to his crime, forever... The next morning, Katie receives a frantic call from her older sister, Molly Kennedy, who tearfully informs Katie that Molly's neighbor, Vangie Lewis, was found dead in her home last night, having committed suicide by swallowing a glass of cyanide. It is then that the once-vague truth hits Katie: that deathly pale face she had seen last night was Vangie Lewis's face.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Cradle Will Fall Oct. 16 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Mary Higgins Clark published a chilling and inquiring novel, The Cradle Will Fall. Kathleen DeMaio, an assistant prosecutor, and Richard Carroll, a medical examiner are called to investigate a recent crime scene in which a pregnant woman seems to have committed suicide. They work together to put the pieces of the suicide together, as well as form a loving a sincere relationship. They analyze and question several suspects and crime scenes in the case. Through these investigations, Richard realizes that the last person to have come in contact with the deceased woman was Dr. Highly, the victim's doctor. Was the crime suicide, or planned murder? Now, Katie, not knowing Richard's conclusions about Dr. Highly, finds herself in the hospital for minor surgery. By coincidence, the surgeon is Dr. Highly. What will become of Katie?
Mary Higgins Clark is an excellent mystery writer. Her plot is complicated, yet well planned out and suddenly comes together at the end. The story begins a little slow but soon becomes fast-paced and intriguing. You will soon wonder if the detectives will ever crack the case and you will also start to solve the mystery yourself. Her character's personalities are unique and each one comes to life. She makes you feel as if you know each one personally. I enjoyed the personal relationships that develop throughout the novel as well as their feelings and emotions. Overall, the novel was full of suspense and terror. Mary Higgins Clark makes you feel as if you are in the operating room the whole time. There were many late nights in which I couldn't put this book down. I would suggest this book to all teenage or adult mystery lovers.
Was this review helpful to you?
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Mary Higgins Clark published a chilling and inquiring novel, The Cradle Will Fall. Kathleen DeMaio, an assistant prosecutor, and Richard Carroll, a medical examiner are called to investigate a recent crime scene in which a pregnant woman seems to have committed suicide. They analyze and question several suspects and crime scenes in the case. Through these investigations, Richard realizes that the last person to have come in contact with the deceased woman was Dr. Highly, the victims doctor. Was the crime suicide, or planned murder? Now, Katie, not knowing Richard's conclusions, finds herself in the hospital for surgery. By coincidence, the surgeon is Dr. Highly. What will become of Katie?
Mary Higgins Clark is an excellent mystery writer. Her plot is complicated, yet well planned out and suddenly comes together at the end. The story begins a little slow but soon becomes fast-paced and intriguing. Her character's personalities are unique and each one comes to life. I enjoyed the personal relationships that develop throughout the novel as well as their feelings and emotions. Overall, the novel was full of suspense and terror. Mary Higgins Clark makes you feel as if you are in the operating room the whole time. There were many late nights in which I couldn't put this book down. I would suggest this book to all teenage or adult mystery lovers.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not her best May 10 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Cradle Will Fall, by Mary Higgins Clark. I must tell you that I am disappointed by this book. The story, palpable at many edges and creative in the manner in which one character is painted in a bad light, but it fails to really leave you grinding your teeth for more. The Authors fashion is to set up intertwined chapters. Get you to a point where you are just about to guess what is next and then you read what really is next, but across the town or from another pov. That failed in this book. You just assumed what would happen. I dare not tell MHC how to write because I so enjoy her book, but a few parts were just too easy. So easy that the cliff-hanger feel died on me. The young man, thief, who steals the doctors bag. Too convenient. Take out this character and his chapters. He ruined it. Also, the bad, bad Doctor. If he is so cunning and cold, he would not have left the evidence in his trunk for so long.
I think this story sacrificed some hard details and symbolism for a fast past edge. Not very fast but enough.
All in all, this an okay read, but not her best.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but not my favorite
This book was the first book I read by Mary Higgins Clark, and I immediately wanted to read more. Her writing is so easy to read, and you are hooked by almost the first chapter. Read more
Published on April 13 2004 by Jordy
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Higgins Clark - The Cradle Will Fall
This book, The Cradle Will Fall, was one of the books I have read by Mary Higgins Clark and was one of the best ones. I could not even put it down. Read more
Published on March 2 2003 by Anonymous
4.0 out of 5 stars Two days max
This was the first of 15 books I read by Mary Higgins Clark.
I simply could not put it down. The plot of this book hooks you in the first chapter and keeps the pages turning... Read more
Published on Nov. 6 2002 by "woodolynn"
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Addicting!
This book was very interesting. When i started it i couldnt put it down. I like the way she keeps you on the edge of your seat and never lets you want to stop reading it! Read more
Published on March 13 2002 by Lindsy
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read.
I am A big Marry Higgins Clark fan and this is one of her best!
Published on Feb. 8 2002 by ROGER D CARPENTER
5.0 out of 5 stars Very suspenceful!
This is one of Mary Higgins Clark's best yet! The story is fast paced and unlike her more recent novels there is a reasonable amount of characters to keep straight! Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2002 by Samantha W. Mckevitt
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling!!!
Mary Higgins Clark's "The Cradle Will Fall" is the third book that I have read of hers(The other two were "On the Street Where You Live" and "The Anastasia... Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2002 by "auorchid"
5.0 out of 5 stars A Miracle Worker Gone Bad, or Just Wrongful Accusations?
Mary Higgins Clark, A Cradle Will Fall
Are you looking for an excellent page-turning novel? Do you love books by Mary Higgins Clark? Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars not for weak stomachs
This book starts out with a familiar premise: professional woman takes it upon herself to investigate a strange situation. Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cradle Will Fall
The book that i thought was the most intresting was the book called the Cradle Will Fall. It had lot of suspense and it dosen't make you think about who the killer is alot because... Read more
Published on May 24 2001
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