Review: The Cradle Will Fall by Mary Higgins Clark (1980)


My Rating: 5 stars                                          Read: 3/22/2017


A minor road accident landed county prosecutor Katie DeMaio in Westlake Hospital. That night, from her window, she thought she saw a man load a woman’s body into the trunk of a car…or was it just a sleeping pill induced nightmare? At work the next day, Katie began investigating a suicide that looked more like murder. Initial evidence pointed elsewhere, but medical examiner Richard Carroll saw a trail leading to Dr. Edgar Highley. He suspected that the famous doctor’s work “curing” infertile women was more than controversial — that it was deceitful, depraved, and often deadly. But before Richard could tell Katie his fears, she left the office for the weekend and an appointment for routine surgery…in Dr. Highley’s operating room.


Read for my lifetime challenge (1980). This book was a #1 NY Times bestseller in 1980, but I’ve never read it. I like medical thrillers, and thought the blurb sounded interesting.

This is quite a page-turner and a fun medical thriller. The medical component of the story revolves around a fertility doctor who is doing some unethical, and secret, procedures on his patients. I’m not going to get into the details of his procedures, since that’s part of the mystery, but I’m not sure the science portion of the story would hold up today. Still, if you are willing to accept that part of it, the story is a lot of fun.

The plot is a long cat-and-mouse chase. The reader is informed right up front that the doctor is a murderer, willing to kill to protect his reputation and practice. But the police in the story have no idea, including the main character, Katie, who works for the prosecutor’s office. She also happens to be a patient of the main nefarious doctor and is in direct danger from him throughout the book. But everyone thinks this doctor is just wonderful. There are a handful of murders in the book, starting with the kick-off scene and continuing through the plot as the doctor is forced to go further to guard his secrets.

There are a number of convenient coincidences in the plot, such as Katie, one of the investigators, being the doctor’s patient, and also a number of moments that go something like this: one character is about to tell another character a critical piece of info that will unravel the case and/or save Katie, but at the last second there’s an interruption like someone walks in or there’s a phone call, and that important info is never given. It happens so often it begins to strain credulity like hot taffy.

Despite the eye-rolling this induces, it certainly effective at keeping the tension high and the pages turning!  I was anxious for the bad guy to get caught and the heroine to be saved. Played like a fiddle: me. Twenty-seven years after this was a bestseller, it’s still a super fun read.


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