Synopses & Reviews
When Kay Lansing marries wealthy widower Peter Carrington, she is well aware of the rumours surrounding the mysterious death of Peter's first wife Grace, who was found floating in the family pool ten years ago, pregnant at the time. Kay also discovers that Peter is a chronic sleepwalker who suffers from periodic nightmares. When the police arrive at her doorstep with a warrant for Peter's arrest in connection with another murder - that of a woman Peter had escorted to a high school senior prom twenty-two years ago - Kay begins to fear that she has married a sleepwalking murderer, and she resolves to find out the truth behind the puzzling deaths. But are the two deaths linked? And why does a melody that Kay cannot identify keep playing in her head every time she approaches the family chapel?
"At the start of bestseller Clark's riveting new novel of suspense, Kay Lansing recalls her first visit as a six-year-old to the Carrington estate in Englewood, N.J., where her father worked as a landscaper. Twenty-two years later, she returns to ask the present owner, Peter Carrington, if she can use the mansion for a fund-raiser. The two fall madly in love, and after a whirlwind courtship, they marry despite the shadow of suspicion that hangs over Peter regarding the death of a neighbor's daughter two decades earlier and the drowning of his first wife four years before. After an idyllic honeymoon, the couple return to New Jersey, where a magazine article has caused the police to reopen the cases. The subsequent discovery of two bodies buried on the estate causes even Kay to doubt her husband's innocence. Clark (Two Little Girls in Blue) deftly keeps the finger of guilt pointed in many directions until the surprising conclusion." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Kate Lansing is a 28-year-old attractive, smart, and gifted gardener who has just married Peter Carrington, 42, and head of his familys fortune. Soon, re-emerging memories threaten her marriage--and her life--as Kay begins to question the suspicious drowning death of Peters first wife. Simon & Schuster
About the Author
Mary Higgins Clark
's books are world-wide bestsellers. In the U.S. alone, her books have sold over 85 million copies.
Her next suspense novel, Where Are You Now? will be published by SimonandSchuster in April 2008.
She is the author of twenty-six previous suspense novels, Where Are the Children? (1975), A Stranger Is Watching (1978), The Cradle Will Fall (1980), A Cry in the Night (1982), Stillwatch (1984), Weep No More, My Lady (1987), While My Pretty One Sleeps (1989), Loves Music, Loves to Dance (1991), All Around the Town (1992), I'll Be Seeing You (1993), Remember Me (1994), Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1995), Silent Night (1995), Moonlight Becomes You (1996), Pretend You Don't See Her (1997), You Belong To Me (1998), All Through the Night (1998), We'll Meet Again (1999), Before I Say Good-Bye (2000), On the Street Where You Live (2001), Daddy's Little Girl (2002), The Second Time Around (2003), Nighttime is My Time (2004), No Place Like Home (2005), Two Little Girls in Blue (2006) and I Heard That Song Before (2007). She is the author of three collections of short stories, The Anastasia SyndromeandOther Stories (1989), The Lottery Winner: AlvirahandWilly Stories (1994) and My Gal Sunday: Henry and Sunday Stories (1996). Her first book, a biographical novel about George Washington, was re-issued with the title, Mount Vernon Love Story, in June 2002. Her memoir, Kitchen Privileges, was published by SimonandSchuster in November 2002. Her first children's book, Ghost Ship, illustrated by Wendell Minor, was published in April 2007 as a Paula Wiseman Book/SimonandSchuster Books for Young Readers.
She is co-author, with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, of four holiday suspense novels Deck the Halls (2000), He Sees You When You're Sleeping (2001), The Christmas Thief (2004) and Santa Cruise (2006).
Two of her novels were made into feature films, Where Are the Children? and A Stranger Is Watching. Many of her other works, novels and short stories, were made into television films.
Mary Higgins Clark's fame as a writer was achieved against heavy odds. Born and raised in the Bronx, her father died when she was eleven and her mother struggled to raise her and her two brothers. On graduating from high school, she went to secretarial school, so she could get a job and help with the family finances. After three years of working in an advertising agency, travel fever seized her. For the year 1949, she was a stewardess on Pan American Airlines' international flights. "My run was Europe, Africa and Asia," she recalls. "I was in a revolution in Syria and on the last flight into Czechoslovakia before the Iron Curtain went down." After flying for a year, she married a neighbor, Warren Clark, nine years her senior, whom she had known since she was 16. Soon after her marriage, she started writing short stories, finally selling her first to Extension Magazine in 1956 for $100.
Left a young widow by the death of her husband from a heart attack in 1964, Mary Higgins Clark went to work writing radio scripts and, in addition, decided to try her hand at writing books. Every morning, she got up at 5 AM and wrote until 7 AM, when she had to get her five children ready for school. Her very first book was a biographical novel about George Washington, inspired by a radio series she was writing, "Portrait of a Patriot." Originally published in 1969 by Meredith Press with the title Aspire to the Heavens, it was discovered years later by a Washington family member and re-issued in 2002 with the title, Mount Vernon Love Story.
Mary Higgins Clark's first suspense novel, Where Are the Children? was published by SimonandSchuster in 1975. It became a bestseller and marked a turning point in her life and career. It is currently in its 75th edition in paperback and was re-issued in hardcover as a SimonandSchuster classic.
Freed to catch up on things she always wanted to do, she entered Fordham University at Lincoln Center, graduating summa cum laude in 1979 with a B.A. in philosophy. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Fordham University in 1998. She is a past trustee of Fordham University and Providence College and currently on the Board of Governors of the Hackensack College Medical Center. She has nineteen honorary doctorates.
She is #1 fiction bestselling author in France, where she received the Grand Prix de Literature Policière in 1980 and The Literary Award at the 1998 Deauville Film Festival. In 2000, she was named by the French Minister of Culture "Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters."
Mary Higgins Clark was chosen by Mystery Writers of America as Grand Master of the 2000 Edgar Awards. An annual Mary Higgins Clark Award sponsored by SimonandSchuster, to be given to authors of suspense fiction writing in the Mary Higgins Clark tradition, was launched by Mystery Writers of America during Edgars week in April 2001. She was the 1987 president of Mystery Writers of America and, for many years, served on their Board of Directors. In May 1988, she was Chairman of the International Crime Congress.
Active in Catholic affairs, Mary Higgins Clark was made a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, a papal honor. She is also a Dame of Malta and a Lady of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. She received the Catholic Big Sisters Distinguished Service Award in 1998 and the Graymoor Award from the Franciscan Friars in 1999. Honors she has received include the Gold Medal of Honor from the American-Irish Historical Society (1993), the Spirit of Achievement Award from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University (1994), the National Arts Club's first Gold Medal in Education (1994), the Horatio Alger Award (1997), the Outstanding Mother of the Year Award (1998), the Bronx Legend Award (1999), the 2001 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Passionists' Ethics in Literature Award (2002), the first Reader's Digest Author of the Year Award (2002), the Christopher Life Achievement Award (2003), the Ellis Island Family Heritage Award (2008), the Carol M. Reilly Award (2008) and the International Mystery Writers' First Lady of Mystery Award (2008). She is an active advocate and participant in literacy programs.
In 1996, Mary Higgins Clark married John Conheeney, the retired Chairman and CEO of Merrill-Lynch Futures. They live in Saddle River, New Jersey. Between them, they have seventeen grandchildren - Mary's six and John's eleven.
Reading Group Guide
I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark
1. "It may be that I've set my standards too high, but ever since I was young, I've been into the classic love stories of the Brontë sisters" (page 29). Discuss any similarities between Kay's story and the stories of the Brontë sisters.
2. The novel alternates between Kay's first-person narration and the third-person omniscient narrator. What did you like or dislike about this format?
3. When Kay finds Peter sleepwalking from the pool, she asks herself, "why, in that altered state, did he go through the motions of trying to push something into the pool or pull something from it?" (page 50). What is the answer to Kay's question?
4. Of the following quotes, which, if any, do you feel is the main theme of the novel:
"There are none so blind as those who will not see" (page 153).
"Money! That's the cause of most crimes, isn't it? Love or money"(page 220).
"But even when you're crazy about someone, at some point you can have enough" (page 289).
5. "But to anticipate something, and then to see it actually take place, is the difference between nightmare and reality" (page 99). Is Kay brave or naïve for standing by her man? Explain your answer.
6. The Carrington mansion itself is an important part of this story. What is its role and what does the house symbolize?
7. "I never forget the fact that I am their employee, but I am also, I hope, a trusted friend" (page 54). In this novel, the author examines the relationships between employers and their staff. Why is this significant to the plot?
8. Mary Higgins Clark has said: "I often will base my books on a crime. I will take a piece of a crime and go with it." Do you know of any sleepwalking crime cases? If so, how did the outcome of the real-life case compare to this fictional crime?
9. "I knew with certainty that the remains the dogs had dug up had been flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone" (page 147). Discuss how the author uses family in this novel -- from Kay's relationship with her grandmother and the loss of her parents to Peter's role with his stepfamily to the dynamics within the families of the secondary characters. How do these relationships propel the story forward and help to create a murder mystery?
10. Mary Higgins Clark has been called the "Queen of Suspense." What part of I Heard That Song Before stands out in your mind as a great element of suspense?
11. Which character said?:
"I've had other nightmares, and maybe they really happened..." (answer on page 95).
"I had a new life, but some part of me didn't want to completely cut off so much of my old life" (answer on page 139).
"Sleepwalking in this country is no defense" (answer on page 161).
"It's so fascinating to be around people like the Carringtons" (answer on page 241).
"A 'brown study' is defined as a deep, serious absorption in thought" (answer on page 251).
"Don't you come here and try to scare me. I know the law" (answer on page 281).
"It's you and me against the world -- including the whole damn bunch of Carringtons" (answer on page 289).
"I believe that there has been a terrible miscarriage of justice, and I share responsibility for it" (answer on page 294).
Snoop Around: The author refers to Charles Lindbergh as once being the most famous resident of Englewood, NJ. Have your book-club members research who is Englewood's most famous resident today.
Go to the Big House: The Carrington House is a fictional mansion but there are plenty of historic mansions open to the public. Find one near you at www.hgtv.com/hgtv/ah_travel_landmarks and treat your book-club members to a tour of luxury.
Shhh!: Host your book-club meeting at a public library. Find one near you at www.publiclibraries.com. If you live in the New York City area, go to Kay's library: www.englewoodlibrary.org. If the library accepts donations, collect unwanted books from your group and donate them.