While My Pretty One Sleeps

Mary Higgins Clark

She’s always had a keen eye for clothes and design, and has become respected in New York’s fashion world as a highly talented up-and-coming clothier. Ethel Lambston has depended on Neeve to provide her with a stylish and well-designed wardrobe, and that’s why Neeve becomes concerned when Ethel never picks up her newest order at the boutique. After a few days of anxious waiting, Neeve begins to believe that something is wrong. This is when she decides to do a bit of her own investigating. Little by little, with help from some friends and acquaintances she makes, Neeve begins to piece together the last few weeks of Ethel Lambston’s life. As she does, she finds out that more than one person had a motive for murder. There’s Ethel’s bitter ex-husband and his new wife, her nephew, who’s due to inherit, several designers whose secrets Ethel was going to publish, and an organized crime connection. When Ethel’s body is discovered, it turns out that Neeve’s instinct was all too accurate. The closer Neeve gets to the truth, the closer she gets to real danger as the killer becomes aware that Neeve may be the only person who can make the connection between the victim and the killer.

One of the elements that runs throughout this novel is the crossing, you might say, of genres. While My Pretty One Sleeps is most definitely a crime fiction novel. There’s a murder, there’s an investigation, there’s a sleuth, and so on. But you could also call it a romance novel. Neeve Kearny is single, and although it’s not belaboured in the book, she’s never really been able to make a deep and permanent commitment to anyone. In the course of her investigation, Neeve meets Jack Campbell, who works for Givvons and Marks, a publishing house. Not long before her death, Ethel Lambston had approached Campbell about publishing a tell-all book about the fashion world, and Neeve thinks that Jack Campbell may have some information about her disappearance. The two begin to see each other, first professionally and then romantically. It turns out that the two have met before, and Jack was never able to forget Neeve. Their developing relationship turns out to be a sub-plot that runs throughout the novel.

Higgins Clark uses flashbacks to reveal Renata Kearny’s background and personality, and the circumstances of her death. By the end of the story, Renata Kearny has become almost as real a character as the living ones. We get a strong sense of the kind of person she was, and what she was like. New York City serves as a dramatic backdrop to the events of the novel; its unique character is an essential ingredient in the story. Readers get the sense that the story wouldn’t really have “fit” in another setting.

The same is true of Higgins Clark’s use of a professional setting. In this case, the fashion industry serves as an important element in this novel.

Higgins Clark uses the fashion industry of New York City as the backdrop to weave together a murder mystery and romance, and ties together this “package” with strong connections between past and present.

Review by Margot Kinberg, Confessions of a Mystery Writer

Neeve Kearny may be the only person in New York worried about the disappearance of Ethel Lambston. Ethel, a bestselling author famous for her juicy exposés, is one of the best customers at Neeve's exclusive Madison Avenue boutique. But Ethel's ex-husband, her parasitical nephew, and the fashion moguls skewered in her latest article all have reason to be glad she's no longer around.

When Ethel Lambston is found with her throat cut, Neeve's memories of her mother's long-unsolved murder loom up once again. Now as an innocent witness in the Lambston investigation, Neeve is drawn into a new nightmare...a sinister labyrinth of greed and ambition that will lead her into mortal danger...

About Mary Higgins Clark:

Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Clark Conheeney, best known as Mary Higgins Clark, (b December 24, 1927 in the Bronx, New York) is an American author of suspense novels. Each of her twenty-four suspense novels has been a bestseller in the United States and various European countries, and all of her novels remain in print as of 2007, with her debut suspense novel, Where Are The Children, in its seventy-fifth printing.

 

As the novel begins, we learn about the murder of Ethel Lambston, a famous New York gossip columnist. At first, no-one knows that she’s died. She lives alone and she’s known for acting on whims, so no-one is concerned at not having seen her. The first hint that there might be trouble comes when she never comes to pick up her latest order at Neeve’s Place, a very upscale boutique owned by Neeve Kearny.Neeve is the daughter of former Police Commissioner Myles Kearny.