Title: Moonlight Becomes You
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster
Read for: Queen of Suspense Challenge
Set in Newport, Rhode Island, in a world of money and proud names, Moonlight Becomes You has at its center Maggie Holloway, an independent young woman who has put personal tragedy behind her and becomes one of the fashion world’s most successful photographers.
Accompanying her date to a party in Manhattan–a kind of family reunion for the Moore clan of Newport–Maggie is reunited with a woman who had once been her stepmother and who remains one of her fondest childhood memories. Nuala Moore is equally thrilled to see Maggie, and the two quickly get beyond old pains and resume their friendship.
Nuala, now widowed, invites Maggie to visit her in Newport, and when Maggie readily accepts, Nuala plans a dinner for a group of friends so they can meet her long-lost stepdaughter. But when Maggie arrives, she finds Nuala dead, the victim of an apparently random break-in and robbery.
Maggie is heartbroken at the loss and further stunned when she learns that, only days before her death, Nuala had changed her will and left her charming Victorian house to her stepdaughter, the only proviso being that Maggie occasionally visit an old friend, Greta Shipley, who lives in Latham Manor, an elegant retirement home in Newport.
It is when she accompanies Mrs. Shipley to the cemetary to visit Nuala’s grave, as well as those of other friends Mrs. Shipley has recently lost, that Maggie discovers that something is wrong. Using her skills as a photographer to aid her in uncovering the secrets hidden on the gravesites, she soon realizes that Nuala’s death may not have been a random killing at all but rather part of a diabolical plot conceived by a twisted and unfeeling mind.
Suddenly it becomes all too apparent to Maggie that Nuala’s killer must have been someone she trusted completely. Then, when Greta Shipley dies virtually without warning of supposedly natural causes, Maggie becomes convinced that there is a connection between these two and other recent deaths among the older women of Newport.
What Maggie doesn’t realize is that she has become a target for the killer as well and that each clue she uncovers brings her closer and closer to a shocking and unimaginable fate. (from dust jacket)
I don’t really have much to say about the cover. The cover I had was a full moon, with clouds. I can’t really say the moon itself had anything to do with the novel (really, with the exception of Maggie sneaking around in the dark all the time, the time of day didn’t have much to do with the story, period). The cover goes more with the title of the book than anything. Either way, it’s a really beautiful cover.
The beginning of the novel is somewhat slow; it introduces you to a lot of characters all at once, and expects you to keep up. I don’t really have a lot of experience reading mystery/suspense, but I felt like the first couple of chapters (especially just before Nuala’s dinner party, when everyone was getting ready) were more of an info dump than actual narration: see the characters; see how they interact with their husbands/wives. Once we move past the dinner party, things start picking up. Maggie starts snooping around and taking photographs.
Actually, I was really pleased with Maggie’s artistic talent. It wasn’t just a way for her to snoop around in the cemetery; she actually works at creating a clay bust of Nuala, based mostly on pictures that she finds or is given. Sometimes, authors give characters “talents” as a means to an end, and they don’t really do anything else with them. We see Maggie working at a photo shoot for a difficult director; she works with clay; she takes photos of the gravestones in the cemetery. Maggie obviously favors taking photos to anything else, but she has her hands in other types of art as well.
What I really didn’t understand was the introduction of the new coroner. She plays a tiny part, but she doesn’t contribute anything crucial. She’s just there, and then she’s gone. I think she’s mentioned in a total of five pages, maybe less. The plot would have moved along without her.
The relationship between Neil and Maggie is odd, too. Towards the beginning of the novel, we are told that Maggie keeps Neil at a distance because he keeps her at a distance. However, we discover that Neil saw Maggie crying in a mostly-empty theater at a movie, and he didn’t comfort her. We are then told that Maggie kept Neil at a distance because he didn’t comfort her, but when Neil first tells the story he doesn’t think Maggie knew he was there. The relationship keeps twisting and second-guessing itself, and I found myself less interested in their relationship than I was in who-dun-it.
I won’t spoil the who-dun-it, but I will say that, despite my experience in reading mystery/suspense, I was able to guess who-dun-it. Though it did bounce back and forth for a while, I was able to narrow it down and cancel out a few on the list before the characters discovered the culprit.
To be honest, while I enjoyed this book, I probably wouldn’t read it again (mostly because the who-dun-it is now spoiled). Mystery/suspense just isn’t my thing. I found some of the characters to be too inconsistent, and the storylines seemed to twist to fit what the author wanted. For me, the relationships between some of the characters just didn’t flow too well.