Here's our review of "Stillwatch" by Mary Higgins Clark.
(Join the Great DMV BookClub each month as we read a book that is set in D.C., Maryland, or Northern Virginia! We reveal the book on the first Tuesday of the month on OCN and then review the book on the last Tuesday of the month. Join the discussion in the comments! It’s online, it’s free, and it’s fun!)
Stillwatch | by Mary Higgins Clark
I feel as though I should preface this review with the caveat that I am, in fact, a huge fangirl of Mary Higgins Clark. So that may color my unbiased review ever so slightly. But Stillwatch is one of her best. I say this with love: many mysteries are formulaic. There are just enough twists and turns to keep a person engaged, until the last moment when the killer is revealed to be someone you never even thought about. It’s the thing I love most about them: no matter how twisty they are, the bad guy or girl is always caught.
This is very true of many of Mary Higgins Clark’s novels. They follow a pattern, but it’s a winning pattern that has served her well over the years. And in the case of Stillwatch, the pattern still exists. But for some reason, the twists are twistier, and the outcome is more surprising. I’ve read almost all of her mysteries, but I’m willing to place this one near the top of my favorites. It’s hard to know why. Do you ever read a book, and after each page turn you find yourself loving it more and more, but you can’t exactly put your finger on why? That was me through Stillwatch.
It’s a page-turner, that’s for sure. I’m usually able to finish a mystery novel in a day or two, and I kept to that schedule for this read. But I was totally engaged the whole time. Whereas I find myself checking out sometimes, not really caring about the minute details that are spread throughout the story, in this instance, I read each detail as if each were a clue for solving the case. And again, I still had no idea who did it until very close to the end.
I also really enjoyed the setting of Georgetown. With re-reading The Lost Symbol, I found the fact that it was based in the DMV almost too mundane to be truly interested. However, with Stillwatch, I liked hearing about places that I may have been (I’m not so good with the directions, so it’s always a toss-up if I’ve really been to a place …) and familiar surroundings. I’m not sure if that was the reason for my enjoyment, but whatever it was, I really liked this book.
Settling down with a good mystery is always exciting. But getting the chance to cherish one by an author you love that you didn’t know was out there is an even bigger treat. Mary Higgins Clark’s Stillwatch is a twisty, page-turning mystery, that’s perfect for a day at the beach, or while curled up inside enjoying the air conditioning. I highly recommend it and pretty much everything else she’s written as well. With the sheer number of books she’s written, you’ll be set for the summer!
Food for Thought
HERE ARE MY RESPONSES TO OUR BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS. I HOPE TO HEAR SOME INSIGHT FROM YOU, TOO!
1. If you’re a mystery fan, who’s your favorite mystery writer?
After this review, I think it’s pretty clear as to who my favorite mystery writer is. However, a few others I really enjoy are Peter Mayle (he wrote a series of caper novels set in the French Riviera), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Brittany Cavallaro (she writes a series of young adult novels about Charlotte Holmes and Jaime Watson solving crimes – so good!)
2. Or better yet, who’s your favorite fictional detective?
Ok, the obvious answer is Sherlock Holmes. However, I really enjoy every iteration of Holmes, too. Some very clever authors have written mysteries with Holmes as a secondary character like the Brittany Cavallaro books mentioned above. There’s also The Sherlockian by Graham Moore, or the Baker Street Letters series by Michael Robertson. They’re all super-engaging, but the source material, of course, is perfect!
3. Are you any good at solving the mysteries you read? Are you more a Sherlock Holmes or a John Watson?
I am a John Watson. I never guess the killer, and I’m quite sure if I was Sherlock’s partner in crime, he’d have dropped me years ago.
4. There are so many mystery writers out there, many of whom write series using the same characters. Do you prefer the familiarity of reading about the same characters in the same world you’ve come to love, or crave a new mystery with a new detective and brand-new bad guys to investigate?
I’m a huge fan of series. If a writer creates a great character, it's exciting to read more stories about that particular character. In the case of Mary Higgins Clark, Alvira and Willy the lottery-winners/detectives have always been a favorite of mine. I find that many British novelists and writers serialize their characters moreso than American writers, and they do it so well. A great example of this is the middle-grade Taylor and Rose series by Katherine Woodfine. Not only do the books cover history (based in the early 1900s England), but her characters are strong young women, with a huge cast of wonderfully fleshed out characters surrounding them. Katherine Woodfine should win all the awards for world-building. The characters she’s created are so brilliantly written, it's no wonder why she keeps the series going. There’s so much material to mine and so many wonderful mysteries to solve!
Did you read Stillwatch with us in May? Roll call! Let us know in the comments! We want to get to know you!
As always, if you have a favorite DMV author or a great book that’s set in the area, comment away, or send us an email! We’re always looking to discover new and wonderful writers!