Before I Say Goodbye
by Mary Higgins Clark
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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Nell MacDermott Cauliff has had quite a life. Her parents died when she was a young girl. She almost died herself when she was fifteen. Through it all though, her grandfather, Cornelius "Mac" MacDermott, raised her. Mac was a big-time Congressman from Manhattan, and Nell spent her youth living and breathing the political life.

Now that Mac has retired from decades of public service (and his successor failed to perform), he wants Nell to run for the vacant seat.

The only person who opposes this move is Nell's own husband, Adam Cauliff. A successful architect with his own office, Adam has no real reason not to support Nell. This opposition is the cause for a fight between Adam and Nell one evening. Without resolving anything, Adam leaves in anger for a meeting on his boat.

Later that night, Nell finds out that Adam, and several others, were killed when the boat spontaneously explodes. It was presumed to be an accident until the police find that there were motives to kill the people on board.

Jimmy Ryan, a construction worker associated with Adam, was on board. He had been very despondent lately because of debt and being blackballed at his job. Did he commit suicide at the expense of others?

Then there is Sam Krause. He was a crooked builder with a bad reputation. Did he make someone angry enough to blow up a boat?

Peter Lang was supposed to be on the boat. A last minute traffic accident prevented him from attending the ill-fated meeting. Did he cause his own car accident for use as an alibi? Could he be responsible for the murders?

What about Adam? His former employer was being investigated on charges of bribery and using sub-standard materials. Did someone kill Adam because he knew too much?

In Before I Say Goodbye, ESP is quite a prominent theme. As a child, Nell felt the presence of her dead parents. They spoke to her and protected her. After Adam's passing, Nell meets with a famous psychic. The lady tells her that she has spoken with Adam from beyond the grave. Nell is skeptical, but wants to learn more. Does Adam's spirit hold the answer to his murder?

Ahhhh here's where I gently pick apart Mary Higgins Clark's latest work.

Before I Say Goodbye had one element that annoyed me almost from the start. I realize this is fiction, but I highly doubt that Nell, a 32 year-old woman, would seriously be accepted as a New York congressional candidate. At the time of this review, the citizens of New York were in an uproar over a phrase a Senate candidate may or may not have said 26 years ago. And these people would consider electing a young woman, whose late husband may have been involved in suspicious business practices? Please.

I know I didn't mention it earlier, but it is revealed that Adam has a mysterious past. Little is known about his family and no friends showed up at his memorial service. Now, Mac was a big shot politician with many connections. It was also no secret that he was grooming Nell, the granddaughter that he raised, to take his seat. With so much on the line, don't you think Mac would investigate the background of the man Nell marries? Hmmm...

It is a darn shame that Ms. Clark works on a deadline. With a little extra time, she could have added some intelligence to these characters. I would have liked to see Adam be smart and devious. Perhaps Mac could be on his tail, but Adam might be one step ahead. Then there's Nell. How could anyone so clueless want to run for Congress? Sheesh.

Do us a favor, Simon & Schuster, extend Ms. Clark's deadline so she has the time to develop interesting characters.

I can't forget my standing complaint with every Mary Higgins Clark book. The main character is always the same. I am willing to bet a C-note that the main character of Ms. Clark's next book will be a wealthy, attractive woman between the ages of 28 and 32. Oh, and another twenty says she is a resident of the tri-state area.

Earlier this week, my 86 year-old grandmother asked what I was reading. When I showed her my copy of Before I Say Goodbye, she looked disappointed. "Don't you read any literature?" she asked. "Of course," I said. What I didn't tell her was that Ms. Clark's books are no-brainers in my opinion. I also didn't mention that all of her stories are practically the same. Therefore, my Clark reviews practically write themselves now.

Ok, I have been hard enough on the poor gal. This was an ok book. If you can get past the uninteresting characters, there really is a decent dose of suspense.

Would I recommend Before I Say Goodbye? Eh, probably not. I can't justify the price of the book (not even paperback). If you can't score a borrowed copy, then check out any of Ms. Clark's other books. They're all the same, anyway.

More about Mary Higgins Clark

Q&A with
the author

More Mary Higgins Clark's Books That Have Been Reviewed At

The Anastasia Syndrome and Other Stories

A Stranger is Watching

Where are the Children?

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