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#MeToo Leads to murder in Mary Higgins Clark mystery

“Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry”

By Mary Higgins Clark

(Simon & Schuster, 384 pp, $27)

What I love about fiction is how unreal the mundane can be.

At some point, perhaps it was possible to get from the George Washington Bridge to Rye, N.Y., in 15 minutes. In cars, even on weekends, that seems unlikely. A minor gripe, I admit.

That detail, tossed in the middle of this novel, stuck out as did a few troubling points in Mary Higgins Clark’s latest.

As always, Clark of Saddle River and Spring Lake, is a master of plotting, creating characters and building mystery. And it’s always fun when a journalist is the star of a novel. Yet of all of Clark’s books I’ve enjoyed, this one rang the least real.

Our heroine, Gina Kane, is a freelance investigative journalist living in a two-bedroom on West End Avenue and has editors who front her monetary advances. I need to stress how much I respect Clark, but so much of the above description feels more like a 1940’s set-up for a newspaper movie rather than today’s journalism landscape.

Clark later explains that Gina’s parents left her the apartment where she grew up when they retired to Florida, so that small mystery is solved. This book’s real whodunit is about who is killing women who settled with a TV network – money in exchange for silence.

This stems from the #MeToo movement, and the gross behavior is from a TV anchorman who preys on young journalists. After assaulting them in his midtown office, they run, disheveled and crying from his office.

It’s not really about Matt Lauer because this creep, Brad Matthews, was considered the most trusted man in America. Matthews keeps photos of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite in his office. While knocking back Scotch, he calls for young journalists on pretenses.

Someone emailed Gina, launching her investigation, then that person disappears. When she’s looking for the victims, Gina tries Facebook, which comes in handy for finding some people but ignores the social media platforms younger people use.

In this thriller, Clark shines a light on the darkness surrounding a serial sexual predator and the massive TV network that protects him.

Gina has a last name to work with and does solid reporting tracking down the woman. She calls the college they both attended. But credulity about her being a freelance reporter is strained again when Gina donates $3,000 to the alma mater to appease the clerk who feeds Gina some info.

Once Gina has names, she kicks into action and follows leads. Her editor sends her to Aruba, where one woman was last seen. She died in a jet ski accident, strange because she was accomplished in water sports. The police report said she had been drinking, but there’s no evidence.

Gina starts building a case while the suits at the network, cleverly called REL news, are busy protecting the predator. A network lawyer, Michael Carter, strongarms women into accepting $2 million pay-outs, providing they stay forever silent.

“His time in the military had taught him that most outcomes are decided before the first shot is fired on the field of battle. The side with superior intelligence, the opponent with the knowledge advantage, almost always prevails.”

Carter assumes he has the superior intellect. Sure, he’s a savvy shark. Gina, however, is no slouch. She has a great support system with a lawyer best friend and knows she’s onto an important story.

Not surprisingly, Gina has trouble getting anyone to talk with her, considering any woman who did would lose the $2 million. As Gina chases leads, Carter and the heir apparent to the network want her to stop. Just how far would they go to stop her?

Gina’s travels also take her to Nebraska – where she goes on her own dime because her editor pulled the plug on the story. There, Gina visits the mom of one of the dead victims. This description proves why Clark has such a devoted fanbase.

“Despite the chilly weather, she had no topcoat. She wore a faded Cornhuskers sweatshirt adorned with the University of Nebraska logo. Soiled blue jeans and worn black sneakers completed the ensemble. Whatever tasks had taken fifteen minutes inside her home, applying makeup was not one of them.”

When other women and one of the network suits turn up dead, Gina really should be way more careful than she is — getting into strange cars? Not wise. The fast and furious ending has its improbable moments but is ultimately satisfying.

Original Article Source…


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