NEW YORK — Publishing’s “Queen of Suspense” has died. Mary Higgins Clark, whose tales of women beating the odds made her one of the world’s most popular writers, died Friday at age 92.
A widow with five children in her late 30s, she became a perennial best-seller over the second half of her life, writing or co-writing “A Stranger Is Watching,” “Daddy’s Little Girl” and more than 50 other favorites.
Clark specialized in women triumphing over danger, such as the besieged young prosecutor in “Just Take My Heart.”
Simon & Schuster President & CEO Carolyn K. Reidy said Clark died from complications of old age Friday in Naples, Florida.
“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 said. “There are more than 100 million copies of her books in print in the United States; they are international bestsellers and have been translated into every major and many less well-known languages.”
Reidy remembered Clark as a “remarkable woman who overcame an early life of hardship and challenges, never doubting her ability as a natural-born storyteller…”
Reidy called everyone who worked with Clark “fortunate” partly because of her “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,” Reidy added.
“She was similarly devoted to her readers, until very recently going out of her way to meet them while on tour for every one of her books, and drawing tremendous energy and satisfaction from her interactions with them, even though she long ago could have pulled back from that part of being an author,” Reidy said.
Simon & Schuster Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Michael Korda remembered Clark as a dear friend.
She was unique. 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. She was the Queen of Suspense, it wasn’t just a phrase; she always set out to end each chapter on a note of suspense, so you just had to keep reading. It was at once a gift, but also the result of hard work, because nobody worked harder than Mary did on her books to deliver for her readers. She was also, unfailingly, cheerful under pressure, generous, good humored and warm-hearted, the least ‘temperamental’ of bestselling authors, and the most fun to be around. I feel privileged to have enjoyed forty-five years of her friendship, and saddened that I will no longer be able to pick up the phone and hear her say, ‘Michael, I think I’ve figured out how to make this story work.’ She was a joy to work with, and to know.
Reidy said that while Clark was known as the Queen of Suspense, she was thought of her as the First Lady of Simon & Schuster at the publishing giant.
“I will miss her tremendously, both on a personal and professional level, but we all can be grateful and proud for having had the privilege of being her publisher these many years, and thankful for all she has meant to her millions of readers and for her kindness and service to many generations of authors,” Reidy said.