The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke fulfilled the “Book Written by Two Female Authors” category of the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge. I hadn’t read an MHC novel in years. The title jumped out at me as I researched the category. I love a retold fairy tale. It wasn’t one, but that was fine. Nostalgia ruled when I selected the novel. And then I found out it was a sequel (well, part of a series) so I read the first story too. Though that one was only written by MHC.
Being the second novel in the series, I don’t want to spoil too much. Laurie Morgan is a TV producer on a show that solves old crimes. The book launches into the show’s second season, second crime to solve. The Cinderella in the title comes from how the dead woman is found—one shoe off, one shoe on. The TV show runs down everyone involved in the case and people who can give character witness information. Each person included is a suspect for the original murder and the inevitable one that will happen once Laurie and her crew stir things up.
The novel was typical of the genre and specifically MHC type of story. A good heroine fighting the fight for family, safety, and love. The authors mentioned detailed descriptions of clothing and jewelry, houses and cars, etc. I find MHC includes many details in her work. But for a light mystery, it was fine, nothing too much or over the top.
The category being about female authors hinted at feminism and women’s rights. The book did not include much of that. The women were not strong over the top, fighting for their rights, but they were down-to-earth and real. At least I thought they represented real women. The book didn’t fawn over those who chose a career or deprecating those who chase men for their identity. They were just people dealing with a TV show and a mystery.
The two books in the series I have read show great examples of subplot. Each book had a wonderful and plausible second plot that complicated the main murder mystery. Subplots are difficult and MHC is a master at them. I was impressed by the second book in that I could not differentiate it from the first. The voice still sounded like MHC, even though it was co-written with Ms. Burke.
And about that. There are tons of books out there now with multiple authors. The trend is called franchising, where a big author uses their own name to get more books out there by partnering with multiple smaller authors. James Patterson has cornered the market on the technique (he might have even invented it.). I took a class about Patterson and his writing style. He writes a 150-page outline for the book before turning it over to the second author. He checks everything the other writers to make sure it fits with his vision. So yes, he really has a huge hand in all those books. He’s not just selling his name. I can’t speak for other authors, but you can see MHC’s style all over it. So I conclude that the book was a true collaboration, not ghostwriting.
In summary, cute book, fun to read but not a showstopper. I give The Cinderella Murder 4 glass slippers.