REVIEW: DADDY'S GONE A-HUNTING BY MARY HIGGINS CLARK

DADDY’S GONE A-HUNTING

Author: Mary Higgins Clark 
Simon & Schuster RRP $17.99
Review: Monique Mulligan 

daddy-s-gone-a-huntingDaddy’s Gone A-Hunting is the first Mary Higgins Clark novel I’ve read in a long time – hers were books I always looked out for in the library because I knew I could expect a good suspense thriller. Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting was a fairly typical, fast-paced read (short chapters) that kept me turning pages, but overall lacked the edginess I remember from earlier books. While I wanted to know how everything turned out in the end, I wasn’t surprised by the outcome and certainly wasn’t biting my nails or shivering under the covers.

So, what’s it about? Secrets, lies and cover-ups, in a nutshell. Hannah Connelly, a young designer and rising star in the fashion world, is plunged into a nightmare beyond imagination when she learns that Connelly Fine Antique Reproductions, the family business founded by her grandfather, has been levelled by a huge explosion in the middle of the night. Former employee Gus Schmidt is dead and Hannah’s sister Kate is critically injured; it’s not long before people ask if the explosion was deliberate and why Kate and Gus were at the building at that hour.

While Kate lies in hospital in a coma, fire marshals begin investigating the explosion, a mammoth task of sifting through the ashes … and lies. Knowing that suspicions are being levelled at Kate, who can’t defend herself, Hannah begins her own investigation – somehow, she vows, she will find out what happened that tragic night. Her task is hampered when a dead girl is linked to the site, followed by the discovery of the skeletal remains of another girl. As the fire marshals adjust to these new findings and widen their questioning, Hannah has no idea that someone has no intention of letting Kate regain consciousness and revealing what she knows. Who is behind the explosion? Who murdered those girls? Will Hannah find out before it’s too late?

Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting comprises a number of sub-plots including homeless veterans and missing people, with a number of secondary characters being introduced as ‘helpers’ and potential romantic interests. Mark, for example, moves to New York so he can find out what happened to his sister, who went missing years earlier – it just happens that he meets Hannah and her attractive lawyer-friend and then finds out that his missing sister is linked to the Connelly explosion. On the whole, none of the characters were really well developed – they seemed secondary to the tangled plot lines of the story. For me, that’s a downside – I prefer books in which I really get to know the characters. On the plus side, while the characters lacked depth, their stories did connect well in the end and that takes some skill, particularly when there were so many to connect (some readers may find it confusing, though).

Regarding the twist – the big whodunit – I called it early. It seemed obvious to me – the clues were there early on. There were lots of red herrings via the busy sub-plots that made me second-guess my instincts a couple of times, but there was one big giveaway that had me suspicious from the get-go (I hoped it was a red herring, but it wasn’t . And if I say what it is, no one will read the book! However, other reviewers have said they didn’t call it until the end and they were led a merry chase by the twists and turns, so I think readers need to make up their own minds on this one.

Overall, I’d say this was an okay read and entertaining enough. I just expected more – I wanted to be on the edge of my seat as I read, and I wasn’t  It’s good enough to while away a few hours, though – I never felt that I wanted to abandon it, probably because short chapters always make you say, “Just one more”. What do you think?

Available from good bookstores. This copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

Bookish treat: Who opened the packet of choc chips in the pantry? Who ate some of those choc chips? Who was that desperate for a chocolate fix? I guess you’ll never know.