New York Times Bestseller
“Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke are back with their fourth book in the New York Times bestselling Under Suspicion series; Every Breath You Take follows television producer’s Laurie Moran investigation of the unsolved Met Gala murder—in which a wealthy widow was pushed to her death from the famous museum’s rooftop.
Laurie Moran’s professional life is a success—her television show Under Suspicion is a hit, both in the ratings and its record of solving cold cases. But her romantic break from former host Alex Buckley has left her with on-air talent she can’t stand—Ryan Nichols—and a sense of loneliness, despite her loving family.
Now Ryan has suggested a new case. Three years ago, Virginia Wakeling, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and one of the museum’s most generous donors, was found in the snow, after being thrown from the museum’s roof on the night of its most celebrated fundraiser, the Met Gala. The leading suspect then and now is her much younger boyfriend and personal trainer, Ivan Gray.
Ivan runs a trendy, successful boutique gym called Punch—a business funded in no small part by the late Virginia—which happens to be the gym Ryan frequents. Laurie’s skepticism about the case is upended by a tip from her father’s NYPD connection, and soon Laurie realizes there are a bevy of suspects—including Virginia’s trusted inner circle.
As the Under Suspicion crew pries into the lives of a super wealthy real estate family with secrets to hide, danger mounts for several witnesses—and for Laurie.
Hometown:Saddle River, New Jersey and New York, New York
Date of Birth:December 24, 1929
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Education:New York University; B.A., Fordham University, 1979
Every Breath You Take
Laurie Moran could not ignore the satisfied expression on her nine-year-old son’s face as he watched the waiter place her breakfast on their table.
“What’s the secret?” she asked with a smile.
“No secret,” Timmy replied. “I was just thinking how really cool you look in that suit.”
“Well thank you so much,” Laurie said, pleased, even as she reflected on the fact that Timmy’s use of the word cool was another sign that he was growing up. School was closed while teachers were at an education convention. Because of that Laurie had decided to go in late so she could take Timmy and her father to breakfast. Timmy had been to Sarabeth’s restaurant for breakfast at least twenty times, but never approved of Laurie’s choice of the eggs benedict with salmon.
“No one should eat fish for breakfast,” Timmy pronounced with confidence. “Right, Grandpa?”
If Laurie had to handpick a rival for her son’s affections, she couldn’t have chosen a better role model than her father, Leo Farley. While other kids Timmy’s age were starting to admire athletes, comedians, and musicians, Timmy still looked at his grandfather, retired NYPD First Deputy Police Commissioner Leo Farley, as if he were Superman.
“Hate to tell you this, kiddo,” Leo said crisply, “but you can’t keep eating pancakes with chocolate and powdered sugar on them for the rest of your life. Thirty years from now, you’ll understand why your mom’s eating fish, and I’m pretending to enjoy this turkey bacon that tastes like paper.”
“So what do the two of you have planned for the rest of the day?” Laurie asked, smiling.
“We’re going to watch the Knicks-Pacers game,” Timmy said. “We recorded it last night. I’m going to look for Alex in his courtside seats.”
Laurie suddenly put down her fork. It had been two months since she and Alex Buckley last spoke—and two months before that Alex had taken a break as the host of her television series to focus on his own law practice. Before Laurie even realized how important Alex was to her daily life, he was gone.
There was a reason she often joked that she needed a clone. She was always busy, both at work and as a mother, but now that Alex was gone, there was an unmistakable void in her life. She kept herself going, one day at a time, focusing on her home and her work, but that was no help.
Given Timmy’s mention of Alex, she expected her father to jump in and ask, How is Alex, by the way? Or, Does Alex want to join us for dinner this week? But instead, Leo took another bite of his dry turkey bacon. Laurie suspected that Timmy also wondered why they hadn’t seen more of Alex recently. If she had to guess, she’d say he was picking up on his grandfather’s cues not to ask about it directly. So instead, he had mentioned Alex’s courtside seats.
Laurie tried to sound matter-of-fact. “You know Alex donates them to charities most of the time. His seats will be there, but there might be other people in them.”
Her son’s face fell. Timmy had managed to survive witnessing the murder of his own father. Heartsick, she realized that he was trying to replace him with Alex.
She took a final sip of coffee. “Okay, time to earn my keep.”
Laurie was the producer of Under Suspicion, a series of true crime–based television “news specials” focusing on cold cases. The show’s title reflected its format of working directly with the people who were unofficial suspects in the investigations. They had never been formally charged, but still were living under a constant cloud of suspicion. It was always so hard for Laurie to commit to one case for each special, but she had narrowed the newest possibilities down to two.
She dropped a kiss on Timmy’s head. “I’ll be home for dinner on time,” she promised. “We’ll have roast chicken?” She constantly felt guilty for not preparing more healthy meals for her son.
“Don’t worry, Mom,” Timmy said. “If you’re late, we can have pizza.”
Leo pushed back his chair. “I need to pop over to task force headquarters tonight. I’ll go after you get home and be back for dinner by eight.” A few months ago, her father had stepped back into law enforcement waters by joining the NYPD’s anti-terrorism task force.
“Sounds perfect,” Laurie said. She could not believe how blessed she was to have these two gentlemen—her sixty-five-year-old father and her nine-year-old son—always trying to make her life easier.
• • •
Fifteen minutes later she arrived at work and another man in her life immediately gave her a headache. “I was starting to wonder if you were coming in.” It was Ryan Nichols, calling out to her from his office as she passed his door. He had been hired as the host of her television show a mere three months earlier, and she still had no idea what he was doing at the studio full-time. “I have the perfect case for us,” he shouted as she pretended not to hear him.
The death of 68-year-old socialite Virginia Wakeling, who took a fatal fall off the roof of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, propels bestseller Clark and Burke’s tepid fourth novel featuring Laurie Morgan (after 2016’s The Sleeping Beauty Killer). Three years after Virginia’s death, Laurie, the producer of Under Suspicion, a TV show that examines cold cases, is pushed by host Ryan Nichols and studio head Brett Young into exploring it as a possible subject. Laurie has doubts because the case isn’t really old enough to be considered cold, and Ryan, who pitches the idea, is friends with Ivan Gray, Virginia’s boyfriend and the primary suspect. After Laurie listens to Ivan, considers the venue where Virginia was killed (an A-list do at the Met featuring an exhibit of gowns worn by first ladies), and makes a list of other possible suspects, she becomes more interested in proceeding. As Laurie follows a formulaic path to the truth, a constant undercurrent is her fractured romance with the show’s former host, Alex Buckley, and the possibility of repairing it. Series fans will hope for a return to form next time. Agents: Bob Barnett and Deenen Howell, Williams & Connolly. (Nov.)
The collaborations between Queen of Suspense Clark and New York Times best-selling Burke have proved to be efficient thrill generators, and this next work has a phenomenal setting: the fabled Met Gala, where attendees dress in unprecedented finery and money is in the air. Featured at Book Expo.
Laurie Moran, intrepid executive producer of the true-crime series Under Suspicion, agrees to reopen a cold case so recent that it's hardly fair to call it cold.In the three years since Virginia Wakeling celebrated a gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she served as a trustee and a generous donor, by taking a header off the museum's roof, no one involved has changed their minds about who was responsible. Every single member of Ginny's family is convinced she was murdered by Ivan Gray, a bodybuilder 20 years her junior who they're convinced was less interested in her than in the fortune she inherited from her developer husband. Ivan has never stopped protesting his innocence, and now he's convinced Under Suspicion host Ryan Nichols, whom he's been training at the successful Manhattan gym into which Ginny pumped $500,000, to reopen a case NYPD Detective Johnny Hon is hardly ready to call closed. Much as she dislikes getting rushed into a story, especially by a host who's clearly made up his own mind about Ivan's innocence, Laurie (The Sleeping Beauty Killer, 2016, etc.) agrees that it's a perfect story for Under Suspicion and promptly sets about harassing the family. At least that's how Ginny's children, Carter and Anna, who run the family business; Anna's husband, commercial real estate lawyer Peter Browning; and Ginny's nephew, long-marginalized Tom Wakeling, would describe it. Instead of a courtroom, Clark and Burke once more provide taping sessions during which Laurie, Ryan, and assistant producer Jerry Klein get to cross-examine the Wakelings in the hope that one of them will confess on camera (which doesn't happen) or get angry enough to take a swing at Ryan (which does). But it's hard for Laurie to put her heart into a case to which every party acts guilty, especially when that heart is still yearning for Ryan's predecessor in the host's seat, Alex Buckley, who was last spotted headed toward a federal judgeship.Readers who recognize early on that the most suspenseful question here is whether the heroine will regain her lost love will know perfectly well whether this latest installment is for them.