I picked up this book having never read a Mary Higgins Clark novel. I finished it wondering how she ever sold a copy if this is indicative of her oeuvre. From what I understand, it isn’t, so I will probably give at least another of her better-regarded novels a chance at some point.
What really struck me was the dialogue. It read as if the author has never actually listened to two people converse, ever, in any capacity whatsoever. Completely unrealistic, devoid of any character, no differentiation between characters, so that all of the dialogue becomes one large, homogeneous blob, in isolation from the narrative. This was undoubtedly the largest grievance I had with Daddy’s Gone A Hunting.
My second biggest qualm was some of the ludicrous sentences that introduced chapters. This novel is fairly sub-plot heavy, which is fine. The individual premises aren’t terrible, and it’s all tied up neatly at the end. However, because the novel is laid out with short chapters all giving a brief snapshot before changing focus again, the introductory sentences are an absolute mess. MHC deems fit to introduce fully the names and full backstories of the relevant players in each chapter, sometimes even after you’ve been introduced to them plenty beforehand. I believe this is possibly owing to MHC knowing damn well that the characters are pretty cardboard, hence the attention to detail, but the solution to that is maybe don’t write such wooden characters in the first place.
‘Lawrence Gordon, chairman and CO of Gordon Global Investments, whose college-aged daughter, Jamie, was murdered two years ago, had directed Lou, his chauffeur, to pick him up at his Park Avenue office at three fifteen on Friday afternoon, but it was more than an hour later before he was able to get away. ‘
The above, which is a direct quote, is an especially baffling sentence that I have provided as an example of it. How this ever made it beyond editing, I’ll never know.
It’s not all bad, obviously. The plot is decent, the pacing is quite good, and the ending resolves all errant plot points, even if a little rapidly. But in all honesty, by that point, the damage is done. I’d be surprised if any reader is able to suspend disbelief far enough to accept extended passages of full names and explicit backstory of a mutual acquaintance in a conversation supposedly between close friends and/or family.
Avoid, unless you really just want something to make you perhaps feel better about your own writing.