Mary Higgins Clark, who published her first mystery in 1975 and went on to be known as the Queen of Suspense, died January 31 of natural causes at her home in Naples, Fla. She was 92.
During her long writing career, Clark wrote 38 suspense novels, four collections of short stories, a historical novel, a memoir, and two children’s books. With her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, she coauthored five more suspense novels, and cowrote the Under Suspicion series, comprising The Cinderella Murder, All Dressed in White, The Sleeping Beauty Killer, Every Breath You Take, and You Don’t Own Me with bestselling author Alafair Burke. Among her best-known works were her 1975 novel Where Are the Children?—not her debut, but her first successful novel—and 2005's No Place Like Home.
All Clark's books were published by Simon & Schuster, and the company said that more than 100 million copies of her books are in print in the U.S. Most of her books also became international bestsellers as well. In a memo to employees announcing Clark’s death, S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy called her “the First Lady of Simon & Schuster” and a natural born storyteller.
“It is impossible to overestimate the importance of Mary’s contribution to our success, and her role in the modern history of Simon & Schuster,” Reidy continued. In addition to her long string of bestsellers, Reidy pointed to Clark’s ”tremendous loyalty and dedication: In this day and age, it is exceedingly rare for an author, especially one as prized as Mary, to remain with a single publisher for an entire forty-five-year career.”
Michael Korda, editor-in-chief emeritus of S&S, became Clark’s editor with Where Are the Children?, which is now in its 75th edition in paperback. “She was a joy to work with, and to know,” Korda said. “Nobody ever bonded more completely with her readers than Mary did. She understood them as if they were members of her own family. She was always absolutely sure of what they wanted to read—and, perhaps more important, what they didn’t want to read—and yet she managed to surprise them with every book.”
Two of Clark’s novels were made into feature films, Where Are the Children? and A Stranger Is Watching. Many of her other works, novels and short stories, were made into television films.
Clark earned just about every honor a suspense author could receive. In 2000, she was chosen by the Mystery Writers of America as its Grand Master for that year’s ceremony. She also received the International Crime Writers’ “First Lady of Mystery” award in 2008, and was chosen for Malice Domestic’s 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award. Clark's books were very popular in France, and in 2000 she was named by the French Minister of Culture "Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters."
Her other honors included: the Gold Medal of Honor from the American-Irish Historical Society (1993); the National Arts Club's first Gold Medal in Education (1994); the Horatio Alger Award (1997); the 2001 Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the inaugural Reader’s Digest Author of the Year Award (2002); the Christopher Life Achievement Award (2003); and the Authors Guild Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community (2018). Since 2001, the Mystery Writers of America has given an annual award in her honor, the Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award, for the book most closely written in the Mary Higgins Clark tradition.
Her most recent book, Kiss the Girls and Make them Cry, was published by S&S last November.