Length: 320 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Jenny MacPartland works at an art gallery, is divorced from her husband, is raising two girls alone, and has little time to think of anything but how to make the next month’s bills. Yet, she is as happy as she can be. But when Erich Krueger steps into her life, her idea of happiness is turned around. Erich is a recently discovered painter, one who is gaining international acclaim. Erich is rich, handsome, charismatic, and seems smitten with Jenny from the moment they meet as her gallery that hosts his paintings. And Erich, with his sensitive and kind nature, makes her truly happy.
A month later, they are married and Jenny and her daughters move to Erich’s vast Minnesota farm. And that is where the nightmare begins. Days are lonely and nights are disturbing; and the home that was meant to be her sanctuary slowly begins to become her prison. Nightmares keep her awake even as she grasps onto love as a reprise. But the mansion and farm hold more secrets than she had ever thought possible. Every day, Jenny’s patience is tested, her faith is tested, and her sanity is tested. Until finally she is forced to try and discover the truth before her marriage, her children, and her life fall prey to the secrets and a macabre past that won’t stay buried.
Mary Higgins Clark has always been one of my favorite authors and I’ve read almost all of her books at least once. She has a way of bringing creepiness and thrills into a book that few others have. To that aspect, A Cry in the Night does not disappoint.
The book gives you enough chills to have you looking over your shoulder and is gripping enough to keep you reading well into the night. Clark’s older works were some of her best when it came to the creepy quotient and this book testifies to that fact. It has all the much loved sinister happenings, suspense, and twisted characters you would expect from an older book by Clark. It also has all the things that you may have found missing from her more recent work, giving it a definite edge of her now-available, not too creepy stories.
As far as characterization goes, I thought that all the characters were really easy to associate with – their weakness, strengths, and relationships had a nice curve that you could see developing. Jenny, who is forced to live a life all alone finds love in the man who shows her tenderness. While this may seem to some like the attitude of a weak woman, it isn’t too unreal to imagine. She doesn’t fall for him because he’s rich or handsome; she falls for him because she finally meets the man who understands her – a man who gives her all the love and care that she desired from her first husband.
The other characters evolve similarly. And the best part of the characterization, in my opinion, was the mind set of a small village that Clark has painted to aptly. An outsider and city girl, Jenny needs to adjust to the lifestyle of a smaller town. Her reaction to the house, the farm, the people, and the town as well as their reaction to her was depicted much like you would expect such situations to play out. Throw in the fact that the story moves quick and is gripping, the book moves along at a fast pace that doesn’t really lose its track anywhere.
That being said, it still wasn’t as good as other books of hers; and that’s why I would give it a 3.5 rather than a 4 star rating.
The first thing that the book didn’t have going for it was, oddly enough, its speed. While it was great that the book moved along at a fast pace, I wish that it didn’t do so by simply cutting chunks of time out altogether. In one sentence in the middle of a page, you will read about the present and in the next sentence, it will be a couple of days or even a week later. Those kinds of jumps seemed altogether too abrupt and I would have liked to see a little more continuity in the way that events unfolded.
The second thing that pulls down the appeal of the book was its predictability. Maybe it’s because you’ve read too many of Clark’s books or too many books in the genre, but the book is highly predictable, down to some very minute details. So in the end, you’re not exactly left with a feeling of, ‘Did not see that coming!’
Even with its jumps and predictability, the book still holds its own thanks to Clark’s way of making things really creepy and gripping. In spite of its shortcomings, I did stay up late to know the end. It doesn’t matter then if you’re awake because you just need to know what happens or because you want to confirm if what you think will happen actually happens. The point remains that you did stay up!
All in all, this is one of Clark’s better books, reminiscent of her older, trusted style that comes with the right doses of chemistry, story, and chills. If you’re a Mary Higgins Clark fan and haven’t read this one, then you definitely should pick it up. If you’ve never read her work before, this isn’t the best one to start with but can definitely do if you don’t have too many other options. And if you love any book that’s in the genre of mystery and suspense, then this one will make an interesting and quick read, even if you probably figure out how it will end much before time.