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I know she's not considered high literature, but surely someone on this board must be a fan of Mary Higgins Clark?

She's been mentioned in a few threads, but she doesn't have one dedicated to her work. I thought I'd start one after reading the Wall Street Journal's article yesterday, "The Case of the Best-Selling Author," which offers an overview of Clark's remarkable career and run of best-sellers.

My wife is a fan, although her interest in Clark waned last decade during a string of Clark books that focused on psychic phenomena. Sarah reports that Clark has gotten away from that with her recent books, which have been better, in Sarah's opinion. I say that anyone who cranks out a couple of books a year gets a pass for the occasional dud. I have a similar philosophy about Woody Allen and Spike Lee movies; only when a streak of bad films reaches four or five do I start to have my doubts that the artist will come back.

But I digress. The WSJ article opens with a description of what's NOT in any Clark book, and which no doubt contributes to her enduring, broad appeal. I know for a fact that my wife responds to these books in large part because of what's not in them:

Here are some things you'll never find in a Mary Higgins Clark novel: an unmarried couple living together, a curse word, a body hacked to pieces. By today's standards, Ms. Clark's thrillers are quaint throwbacks, more in the Agatha Christie mold than the blood-curdling, titillating fare produced by best-selling writers such as James Patterson and Stieg Larsson.

And then, the staggering sales figures:

Yet Ms. Clark—who at 83 still churns out at least one book a year—remains as lucrative a brand as ever. Her books have sold 100 million copies in the U.S. alone. All 42 of her books have been best sellers. Ms. Clark is the top-selling author across the seven imprints of her publisher, Simon & Schuster. Each year, her novels, which are published in 34 countries, sell 3.7 million copies globally. Simon & Schuster Chief Executive Carolyn Reidy says that Ms. Clark's sales are so consistent that they factor into the company's annual budgets.

I have suspected for several years that Clark's books are written for her, although unlike James Patterson, she doesn't credit her co-writers on the front cover of each novel. The article gives no inkling that that's the case. I do wonder how much influence her editor has, although if Clark really does write each day for several hours, I suppose it's possible she is indeed cranking out two books a year.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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