cover image All Around the Town

All Around the Town

Mary Higgins Clark. Simon & Schuster, $22 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-671-67365-9

Effectively exploiting her canny knack for placing women and children in deadly peril, Clark has pulled out all the stops in her newest effort (after Loves Music, Loves to Dance ). As a child, Laurie Kenyon was kidnapped and abused by a creepy pair named Bic and Opal, and she developed complex multiple personalities as a result. Now she is a college senior and a prime suspect in the murder of an attractive male professor. Might one of her personalities have been responsible? If so, can her protective sister Sarah, now an ace lawyer? confusing as is--if she's prosecutor, she wouldn't be defending her sister , defend her successfully? And will Bic and Opal, now successful televangelists, manage to silence her if she seems likely to identify them as her childhood tormentors? The plotting is swift and slickly managed, with a genuinely surprising twist toward the end. Clark wastes no time on extraneous details of character and atmosphere, but the very skills that make her a popular fast read mean that readers who look for nuance, flavor and shading even in their suspense thrillers will find their cravings unsatisfied. Still, of its efficient, machine-made type, this is a suspenseful page-turner. 500,000 first printing; Literary Guild main selection; author tour. (May)