The Tell-Tale Purr

“The Tell-Tale Purr” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

If you haven’t figured it out this is a play on the famous short story, The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe. It really is ingenious, even borrowing lines from the original story but infusing it with a few other things…namely cats.

Our narrator is someone who likes having money and hates almost everything and everybody. One person he especially dislikes is his grandma who he has to be nice to as she has a ton of money and he stands to inherit, just as long as he stays sucking up to her.

One day at a dinner party he gets a most marvelous idea of how to bump his grandma off without being suspected of murder. She has a weak heart and is absolutely terrified of cats. Scared to death of them, they being the perfect thing to end her. He could use their cries to scare her into a heart attack, but how?

Hmmm…?

The elevator! Grandma just has one installed, and on a stormy night when power cuts out she could be trapped in there, him playing recordings of cats which should induce a heart attack.

So the plan is put into action, mean yowling cats are caught and recorded until he has a horrifying symphony.

Dinner comes when such weather is horrible. He leaves as normal and returns in secret-turning off the power, trapping grandma, and playing his merciless tune to terrify her.

But things do not turn out as expected.

WHAT! I’m HOOKED!!!

Thoughts After Reading:

Oh, such an amazing read. So good and such a great twist of an ending. AMAZING!

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Haven’t We Met Before?

For more from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to The Man Next Door

For more cat-centered mysteries, go to Crazy, VA

For more short stories, go to A Much Expected Murder

Haven’t We Met Before?

“Haven’t We Met Before” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

William Koenig was arrested for attempted murder of a young woman named Emily Winters. He chose her because in past life she was Kate Fallow and wanted to marry his past self Simon Guinness. When Koenig/Guinness refused she ended up murdering her husband, framing Koenig/Guinness and had him hanged.

Y’all know what that mans. Someone is going to end up DEAD!

Koenig tried to get his revenge but was foiled. Now he resides at the Haviland Hospital for the Criminally Insane. He is visited by Westchester County Assistant District Attorney Jack Carroll. Carroll believes that he is responsible for a string of unsolved murders and is trying to get him to confess.

Carroll os also dating Emily and is doubly interested in keeping Koenig behind bars.

Koenig is just baiting the two. He speaks to Carroll and the psychiatrists, but inside has plotted a way to get out and get Emily.

Koenig has murdered before. He won’t admit it to Carroll, he’s a very smart man, but he is responsible for the unsolved murders.

  • Fire in Rosedale that killed an elderly woman eight years ago? In Koenig’s eyes she was a witch from Salem who had him killed.
  • Murder of a cashier at the York Cinema in Mamaroneck five years ago? In Koenig’s eyes he was a 17th century pirate who set him adrift in 1603
  • Jeffrey Lane a real estate broker in Rye? In Koenig’s eyes his younger brother in Glasgow in 1790 who murdered him for the estate.

The time ends and Carroll concentrates on Emily. Emily lives in White Plains, housesitting and waitressing-putting her way through college. She actually had herself regressed and saw that she was Eliza Jackson Southern Belle during the Civil War. Carroll is deeply in love with her, but understands she’s busy and needs her space at times. He calls her, but doesn’t see her as she has a long day and wants to head home.

That night Koenig breaks out-strangles the guard, escapes in the orderly’s outfit, and is out a half hour before they even realize he is gone.

This time he gets to Emily before she can press the panic button to call the police. This time he will have her.

It is the end of the line, or is it? Eliza Jackson just might make an appearance-and she’s one tough Southerner.

Hmm…

Thoughts after Reading:

Was good but I’m not really into past lives mysteries. However, Clark always knows how to tell a tale and does it well.

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to I’ve Got You Under My Skin

For more stories from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to The Man Next Door

For more short stories, go to A Much Expected Murder

The Man Next Door

“The Man Next Door” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

Mr. Mensch just finished with one of his “guests” and is looking for a new “visitor” to join him. Mr. Mensch inherited millions from his penny-pinching, miserly father. He has moved around the country and had many “visitors” stay with him in his basement or secret rooms.

This is not good

He’s been looking at his neighbor Bree Matthews, watching her. He knows that choosing her would be dangerous, police would come-but he can’t get her out of his head. She had been remodeling her townhouse next door and had a leak destroy everything. She came over enraged and yelling that the contractor told her it was his fault-he had a leak pouring onto her roof. Mensch just told her calmly to get another contractor take a look-its not his fault. While he was calm on the inside, a fire was growing inside him. He wanted her.

The next day, Bree came to apologize and admit she was wrong. She had another contractor view and it turns out the original contractor cut a lot of corners. Mensch accepted her apology and couldn’t deny it. She was to be his next visitor.

That night he went to work, cutting out the stone in the basement that connects the two houses, his plan to get in and get Bree.

Bree has been having a bad weekend. She had her beautiful home decorated and destroyed by shoddy work. She is taking the contractor to court, which caused a fight and break up with her boyfriend Kevin Carter, as he felt she should just accept the settlement. She had to spend their planned Friday night alone, leave the office early Saturday because she has a cold, and spent all Sunday in bed miserable. Now she is heading to court and is woken early because of a strange grinding noise from next door. Ugh!

She doesn’t know how much worse her life is about to get as that noise marks Mensch’s entrance. He breaks in, drugs her up-makes it look as if she was abducted on her way home Friday night, and imprisons her in her basement. Will she make it out okay, or face the same fate as his previous’ visitors?

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. It was so engrossing that I read faster and faster until I reached the conclusion. I had to know if she survived or ended up dead in the river.

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Let Me Call You Sweetheart

For more from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to Voices in the Coalbin

For more short stories, go to A Much Expected Murder

For more books with kidnapping, go to The Secret Adversary

For more serial killers, go to The House on Foster Hill

Voices in the Coalbin

“Voices in the Coalbin” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

This was a great one.

Mike and Laurie met, married, and life was good. Mike a junior partner in his father’s law firm and Laurie a well-known soprano opera singer. They had a nice home which they were decorating.

But then that all changed. Every night she has the same nightmare, these people trying to take her and make her sing with them. She is afraid of everything and everywhere. She was raised by a hypochondriac, abusive grandmother who tried to have her fear everything. Laurie tried to break it, but it looks as of it has a firm grip on her.

Oh no!

Her therapist told Mike that it would be nice to go away somewhere. So he decided that they should go to his grandparents cabin in Milwaukee. Mike has all these great memories from his childhood but when they get there is it all gloomy and dark. It turns out there is a cold storm overhead.

They start looking through the house trying to sort what they might want from the cabin before it sells. As they search through the closets, Mike finds an old Victrola. He winds it up and starts playing Chinatown. A song that Laurie remembers from childhood.

Laurie freaks out when she hears it

And it turns out that her grandmother used to play that sing and she told her the voices were trapped in the coalbin. Laurie never went in the basement and coalbin ever again, and she still hasn’t since.

The two go down to the coalbin, Laurie feeling strong. And then the two go to bed.

The next morning Mike wakes up happy, and sees that Laurie is gone. He searches everywhere but the last trace was Laurie’s footsteps in the basement.

They find her body, she drowned in the river. But when they do the autopsy they find coal dust.

What?!

And later, when Mike is going through the house again-he listens to the Victrola-and hears Laurie’s voice on the record.

WHAT!

Great story, great ending.

For more from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go toDefinitely, A Crime of Passion

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Stowaway

For more short stories, go to Zero Hour

Stowaway

“Stowaway” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

Stewardess Carol is heartbroken over her breakup with Tom, the pilot. Not only does she have to deal with her emotional baggage, but remains by his side through all her hurt and pain as he flies the plane she is assigned to.

This flight from Danube to Frankfurt has its share of troubles as her fellow purser/flight attendant is sick so Carol has to take care of everyone on her own. A member of the underground resistance group has fled captivity, and they think he might be stowing away on the plane.

All the passengers and  workers are annoyed as the government police are keeping them by searching the plane.

That’s it?

Carol goes in the back to deal with her emotional thoughts when she spots it. A person hiding.

It’s the fugitive. Carol makes a snap second decision that changes everything, she decides to help hide him.

But then the police commissioner stays on the flight. Now Carol has two hours to Frankfurt, a fugitive, the police commissioner, and no place to hide him.

It was really good. The tension was great and well written.

For more by Mary Higgins Clark, go to Definitely, A Crime of Passion

For more from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more short stories, go to The Jigsaw Puzzle

For more stowaways, go to Emilie & the Hollow World

Definitely, A Crime of Passion

“Definitely, A Crime of Passion” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

The former president, Henry Parker Britland IV, Secretary of State, Thomas Acker Shipman, has been arrested for murder of his ex-girlfriend, Arabella. He started dating not long after his wife died to a much, much younger woman. She left him, but guess that he didn’t want to give her up.

The turn of events was that he shot her and then went to bed. The housekeeper found the body in the morning.

What?!

This sounds extremely strange to the former President and his wife Sandra, “Sunday”. Him killing in a passion, doesn’t sound like the always calm and collected Thomas they know so well.

But even if he had a snapping point that caused him to do so, why would he go to bed after? That doesn’t sound right.

The two decide to investigate and found out that Henry broke up the relationship, not Arabella like the tabloids said.

Well if he did he wasn’t that “passionate” so why shoot her.

Hmm…

More and more doesn’t add up. So who is hiding the real truth?

Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t like this as much I found it to be extremely obvious. I knew right away who the killer was and just found it comical that the former president and his wife were investigating.

But you know me, I don’t like Eleanor Roosevelt Investigates either.

For more Death Wears a Beauty Mask short stories, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Where Are You Now?

For more presidential investigators, go to The Hyde Park Murder

For more short stories, go to Conspiracy

Death Wears a Beauty Mask

Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

Thoughts Before Reading:

Mary Higgins Clark wrote this book way back in the ’70s, but never finished it as she wasn’t sure how to end it. She shelved it and went on to write what would be her first book and bestseller, Where Are the Children?

Years later, she took another whack at it s here we are.

Janice Broad hasn’t seen her older sister, Alexandra, in forever. They used to be so close with Janice raising her after their mother died. Then Janice moved to New York City and started her modeling career and their time together grew less. When Janice moved to the LA area for college their time shrinked smaller still.

Now Janice is married and she and her husband, District Attorney Mike Broad, are heading to spend a week of their honeymoon in London and then a week with her.

Yay! Sisters back together.

When they get to the airport, Janice isn’t there. Nor is she at her apartment, and no one knows what happened to her.

They start questioning the men who are hounding her-first Grant Wilson, her agent. Alexandra was the face of a new line, Beauty Mask, but had been having troubles. The company producing Beauty Mask was making them do constant redos, over and over again. Alexandra looked bad and tired.

Grant had been after Alexandra to marry him but she kept saying no. He thinks that she will be sing yes soon, but then she just disappeared. Now he needs her redo the Venice shoot or else the company goes belly up as Beauty Mask won’t pay up without perfection. He says he has no clue to where she is. Could it be he did something because she kept refusing him?

They then see Larry Thompson, photographer. He has known Alexandra from way back. He hates Grant Wilson and never wanted Alexandra to sign with him. He says ever since she’s joined his company, Wilson has just overworked her and worn her out.  Larry tries to make it be that they are just friends, but he seems more interested, and to me extremely bossy, then just as a friend. He is also known to have a very short fuse. Could he have exploded on Alexandra? Or been angry if she could have refused him?

Mark Ambrose is the man who owns the plane that chartered the models and Beauty Mask. He too was another man interested in Alexandra and she too spent time in Venice together. He was supposed to give her a ride to her apartment, but then Alexandra disappeared. Hmm…what happened in Venice or the airport that made her change her mind?

Hmm…

As the couple investigates, they get in a car accident, who did they talk to that felt uneasy?

Then they find out Alexandra got the time wrong and was in the same cab as them and went back to the apartment. But when they get there they found out she has been strangled to death, her face covered Beauty Mask.

But when they do the autopsy, they discover that it isn’t Alexandra, but Lisa Markey, Alexandra’s friend. What happened to Alexandra. Is she alive? Dead? Where is she?

Thoughts After Reading:

Good, really well written until the reveal that the only reason the person was trying to kill Alexandra was because they wanted beauty mask to fail to make money.

That’s it?

A bit of a letdown for me.

But other than that I thought it was really good. I liked that she didn’t go overboard on the characters. But kept the cast short and focused.

And there was this cute little salute to her other novel as if you listen to what Alexandra hears on the news, there is a little snippet about Clark’s first book Where Are the Children?

At one point the detective says I should have known who it was because _________, and I was like facepalm! Duh, I should’ve known too!

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Where Are You Now?

For more modeling mysteries, go to The Turquoise Trail Mystery

For more disappearing sisters, go to The Night Sister

For more mysterious honeymoons, go to Death by Honeymoon