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You Belong To Me

An audio book by Mary Higgins Clark

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A Mystery Wrapped with a Pretty Bow

  • Apr 30, 2011

My mother-in-law bought me this audio book for one of my long driving trips to and from Roseville and Eureka. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that this was an abridged copy of the novel, so it was only three hours of listening time for $9.99. Still, it was better than nothing, and I did enjoy the nostalgia feeling derived from reading a Mary Higgins Clark book. I used to be a major fan when I was in middle and high school, and I remember reading and solving these mysteries easily. 

You Belong To Me was no different from others that I have read. I knew who the perpetrator was early in disc one, which did lessen the enjoyment somewhat. After all, you want a puzzle that keeps you guessing and second-guessing until the very end. Despite this flaw, the story was still interesting purely because the protagonist and heroine Dr. Susan Chandler was a complete buffoon whose inability to consider the consequences of her actions led to the deaths of many innocent people. As I listened to the audio book, I couldn't help guessing who would die next because of Chandler's fumbling. 

The story takes place in New York City, and the majority of the action involves Susan Chandler's talk show Ask Dr. Susan. Chandler uses her show to investigate the disappearance of females who took world cruises and never returned home. In the audio book, it's a little difficult to understand why Dr. Chandler gets involved in these missing women cases. During one of her segments, Chandler invites Dr. Donald Richards, a criminologist/psychiatrist/author to talk about his book Vanishing Women and the plight of lonely women who are preyed upon by calculating killers. During this segment, the reader learns that Chandler is specifically obsessed with the latest disappearance of stock analyst Regina Clausen. This is when reading the abridged version limits the listener because, as it turns out, Clausen helped Susan with an investment that made her a lot of money. Thus, she feels indebted to the missing woman and wants to solve the crime for Regina's mother. These and many other "non-pertinent" details are left out in order to keep the pace of the read brisk for an abridged audio book. 

There are quite a few characters, and most of them end up dead. The important ones are all the men who want to date Susan Chandler and the ones working for Jane Clausen, Regina's mother. In the abridged book, all the development is superficial. I didn't really care about any of the characters, not even Susan. I did enjoy the interactions between Susan and her sister Dee, who is a terrible sister! Considering that Susan is an ex-district attorney turned psychologist, you would think she could analyze the behavior of her sister as well as the man abducting the women better. Instead, she bumbles around relying on her "feelings" to solve the crime. To be honest, I was very surprised that she had a job let alone a successful talk show. 

There were no specific themes, motifs, or literary elements used in this read. It's your typical mystery that follows a generic plot. The only interesting aspect was the changes in narrative perspective. Some chapters are told from the third person perspective of Susan Chandler while other chapters are told from the third person perspective of supporting characters. I did enjoy the use of the song "You Belong to Me," and it's incorporation as part of the mystery. Unfortunately, there was no fancy singing production version included in the audio book, probably because of copyright reasons or the costs to obtain licensing. A very minor character sings part of the refrain, which helps Susan solve the mystery, but it's not the same quality or feel as one of the more well-known singers performing the song. 

I did a little research about the lyrics of "You Belong to Me," purely because the book sparked an interest in the song. It was originally a country record. It was covered by many artists including Jo Stafford, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, and Gene Vincent, to name a few. The Duprees had a hit with it in 1958, and it's the version alluded to in the novel. The reason for the use of the song in relation to the missing girls is all mixed up in the abducter's strange and crazy logic, which I won't spoil here. You'll have to see if you can solve the mystery on your own. 

There was no unique message to this novel. It's purpose is simple-- to entertain. It somewhat accomplished this fact for me. It's a thriller, suspense, mystery novel that is supposed to keep the reader guessing until the very end. Maybe I am too familiar with Clark's writing style/formula to ever be surprised. This aspect didn't bother me as much as the abridgment did. One of the biggest downfalls of this copy is that the characters are even less developed than usual. To begin with, Clark doesn't go into a lot of depth when it comes to her characters, and many important points were cut out. This makes certain tense relationships difficult to follow or even understand why the relations are so stressed in the first place, such as Susan and her mother, Susan and her sister, or Susan and her father and stepmother. Luckily, the constant changes in perspective for each chapter makes it easier to overlook this failing. The plot and scenery of New York City (traffic, crowds, taxis, restaurants, stores, etc.) make the novel fun, especially for someone who's never been to this city. 

This book is very similar to Mary Higgins Clark's other novels. There was even a film made about it, but it's not rated very well online. I haven't seen it myself, so I can't compare the two, but after reading the book, I do think it would make a better film than novel. 

The audio book reader is Jayne Atkinson. As far as my experiences with readers, Atkinson was rather boring. She spoke in a quiet, almost psychologist doctor voice, probably emulating Dr. Susan Chandler. It was a novel idea at first, but I got rather bored with that voice as the story progressed. Atkinson didn't make a big effort to change the other characters' voices, minus a couple of Brooklyn or New Jersey accents for some female side characters. A more creative reader would have made this audio book more enjoyable. 

Overall, I got what was paid for. There is only a small amount of suspense in You Belong To Me by Mary Higgins Clark and no actual "thrill" factor. I would categorize it as a predictable mystery read. I don't recommend this version of the audio book--please purchase the UNABRIDGED copy! I do recommend the unabridged version to anyone who enjoys mysteries in which the plot moves the story, not the characters. A nice feature of all of Clark's books is that loose ends are usually tied up by the end of the novel (not the case with the abridged audio book). 

Don't expect too much from this audio book other than a fast read.
A Mystery Wrapped with a Pretty Bow A Mystery Wrapped with a Pretty Bow A Mystery Wrapped with a Pretty Bow

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May 24, 2011
I didn't know which review of yours to start with so I thought I'd try this one. I will admit I've never read anything by Clark so I wouldn't be a great judge per se but I did see a movie adaptation of Where Are The Children? many moons ago. It was pretty good but I don't think it was enough to make me rush out and buy all her work though I could be wrong. Great review though.
May 25, 2011
Hi Brian! Thanks for the visit on some of my reviews. Just start wherever your interests take you. Don't feel compelled to read all of them either. I have quite a few backlogged, and it would probably take you way too long to read them all!

If you have some reviews of yours you want me to read too, just send them my way. I checked out a few just a few minutes ago, and I'll be sure to check more soon. 

I don't think you are wrong about her work/writing. She is not spectacular, but she does cater to a certain type of audience, which allows her to do extremely well in the publishing world. Always nice when you can pay the bills completely from your writing. :)
May 27, 2011
I enjoyed reading your review on this one. I've known many a mystery reader in my life Some have even been fans of Mary Higgins Clark. We also know that she has had some holding power and considerable success with quite a few bestselling novels. There is certainly nothing wrong with reading Clark but I can also understand how some might feel compelled to branch out and read something else as well. I will look forward to reading more of your book reviews.
June 03, 2011
I've known a few Clark fans, but most of them seem to branch out eventually because her style of writing and structure gets too predictable.
May 11, 2011
Great review, Adri. Based on your description, I don't think I'll be reading or listening to this one. It sounds kind of plain and generic. However, people do check out her books all the time at the library, so I guess she's doing something right. lol.
May 18, 2011
Indeed! She is a very popular author! Thanks for reading my review. :)
April 30, 2011
what can I say, when it comes to book reviews you are unmatched. Amazing review!!
May 01, 2011
Aw! Thanks, William! I had been working on this one for a couple of weeks. I want to loan the audio book to my mother-in-law now that I'm done with it. :)
May 01, 2011
I am working on a review for Cafe Libri....but it'll have to wait for further editing and final draft until next weekend. It is a horror book!!
May 01, 2011
Ooo! Sounds like fun! I'll be sure to highlight it in May's newsletter. Send me the link when you are done too!
May 08, 2011
will do. I am also thinking of reviewing a book that is just so brilliantly weird and bizarre. I wanna read THE SHINING again too and "Red Dragon"....
May 08, 2011
Sounds interesting. I do hope you review it! I haven't read "The Shining" or "Red Dragon," but I did enjoy the films. :)
May 08, 2011
I probably can do a quick review on THE SHINING, but I'd rather re-read it. It was very creepy and Red Dragon was one of those books that I almost couldn't put down. Uh-oh, I may turn your Cafe Libri into a horror community LOL!!
May 09, 2011
No problem with that. I'm the same way with books. I do lots of re-reads, or at least skims, before writing reviews. And, the "Red Dragon" sounds great! I like horror books. Will add it to my reading list now. :)
About the reviewer
Adrianna Simone ()
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Much like the real-life Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Dr. Susan Chandler, the star of You Belong to Me, is a clinical psychologist who hosts a call-in radio show. She's bright, sharp-tongued, and even has "shoulder-length dark blonde hair." Fortunately for Dr. Laura, the similarities end there. During an episode of Ask Dr. Susan, Chandler unwittingly gets herself tangled in the web of a dangerous serial killer. It begins innocently enough when Chandler invites Dr. Donald Richards, a criminologist/psychiatrist/author to talk about his book,Vanishing Women and the plight of lonely women who are preyed upon by calculating killers. Chandler is particularly interested in the disappearance of woman named Regina Clausen, a high-profile investment advisor who vanished on a luxury cruise. Chandler feels indebted to Clausen--an investing tip she offered on CNBC turned a modest birthday check into a "bonanza"--so the good doctor uses her radio forum to help crack the case. Sure enough, during the last moments of the show, a nervous, married woman who goes by the name "Karen" calls in with invaluable clues. Apparently, she was almost a victim and can identify the murderer, but is frightened to come forward because of an insanely jealous husband. As Dr. Susan pursues her timid witness and digs deeper into the case, she realizes a hair too late that she is also one of the hunted. The fast-moving story line and easily digestible plot ...
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ISBN-10: 0743583485
ISBN-13: 978-0743583480
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Genre: Books on CD, 4-for-3 Books
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
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