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Authors: Mary Higgins Clark

While My Pretty One Sleeps

BOOK: While My Pretty One Sleeps
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Praise for Mary Higgins Clark's
Newest Blockbuster,
WHILE MY PRETTY ONE SLEEPS

“Fans of bestselling mystery author Mary Higgins Clark are in for another thrilling, fast-paced read. . . . Clark weaves a series of fast-moving subplots into an exciting and surprising climax.”

—
Associated Press

“Mary Higgins Clark enhances her well-deserved reputation for writing taut page-turners.
WHILE MY PRETTY ONE SLEEPS
injects murder and mystery into the world of high fashion, and the resulting tale is a rousing good one.”

—
Chattanooga Times

“Mary Higgins Clark has done it again! . . . If you can't stand the suspense and have to know how this one turns out ahead of time, you'll have to cheat or read all the way through to the climax—you are not going to figure it out before that.
WHILE MY PRETTY ONE SLEEPS
is bound to keep you wide awake and on the edge of your seat long into the night.”

—
Rave Reviews

“Clark specializes in crosscurrents of terror, and
WHILE MY PRETTY ONE SLEEPS
. . . offers at least three mysteries for the price of one. Not a bad desk for her fans or anyone else who might choose to spend a . . . night scared silly.”

—
New York Daily News

A LITERARY GUILD MAIN SELECTION

“Mary Higgins Clark's latest suspense novel begins with a bang. . . . Clark keeps the murder weapon pointing from one player to the next. . . . A nicely complicated mystery.”

—
Milwaukee Journal

“The fashion talk is fun, and there is a rich roll call of suspicious characters. Ms. Clark renders each of these characters with the lights and shadows of reality. . . . Red herrings are in plentiful supply. . . .”

—
Atlanta Journal and Constitution

“A high-quality, superbly written novel . . . Clark uses descriptions as an artist might use paint. . . .
WHILE MY PRETTY ONE SLEEPS
is a surprisingly superior novel.”

—
Wichita Falls Times Record News

“Gripping . . . There are enough subplots, suspects and supporting characters to keep the story moving at a brisk pace. Miss Clark is also deft at creating atmosphere. . . . Absorbing.”

—
Commercial Appeal
(Memphis, TN)

“Cliff-hanging suspense . . . The reader would do well to be suspicious of everybody. There are subtle clues that will tip off those paying close attention to details—but you'll have to find them for yourself!”

—
Sunday Advocate
(Baton Rouge, LA)

“Right from the start, we know who is murdered and we think we know who did it. But hold on, we won't really know who dunnit until almost the very last page of Clark's fine and suspenseful deserved and totally lived up to in
WHILE MY PRETTY ONE SLEEPS
.”

—
West Coast Review of Books

“Creating an unusual milieu, and making it intrinsic to the plot, is a device that has well-served many a suspense author. It does so again, with special effectiveness, in
WHILE MY PRETTY ONE SLEEPS
, Mary Higgins Clark's seventh and best novel.”

—
Buffalo News

“Her most exciting novel in years, and one that will no doubt delight her fans . . .”

—
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Richly peopled with fascinating, varied characters from many walks of life,
WHILE MY PRETTY ONE SLEEPS
has the pace, the excitement, the high-charged suspense, the romance, and the glamorous background that have made Mary Higgins Clark one of America's most popular writers.”

—
Mystery News

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Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

FOR MY NEWEST GRANDCHILDREN
,

C
OURTNEY
M
ARILYN
C
LARK

AND

D
AVID
F
REDERICK
C
LARK
,

WITH CONTINUING LOVE, AMUSEMENT AND DELIGHT
.

1|

He drove cautiously up the Thruway toward Morrison State Park. The thirty-five-mile trip from Manhattan to Rockland County had been a nightmare. Even though it was six o'clock, there was no sense of approaching dawn. The snow that had begun during the night had steadily increased until now it was beating relentlessly against the windshield. The overhead clouds, heavy and gray,
were like enormous balloons pumped to the breaking point. The forecast had been for two inches, with “precipitation tapering off after mid-night.” As usual the weatherman had been wrong.

But he was near the entrance to the park, and, with the storm, there probably wouldn't be anyone hiking or jogging. He'd passed a State Trooper ten miles back, but the car had rushed past him, lights flashing, probably on the way to an accident somewhere. Certainly the cops had no reason to even think about the contents of his trunk, no reason to suspect that under a pile of luggage a plastic bag containing the body of a prominent sixty-one-year-old writer, Ethel Lambston, was wedged in a space-defying squeeze against the spare tire.

He turned off the Thruway and drove the short distance to the parking lot. As he had hoped, it was nearly empty. Only a few cars were scattered around and they were coated with snow. Some damn fools camping out, he supposed. The trick was not to bump into them.

He glanced around carefully as he left the car. No one. The snow was piling in drifts. It would cover the tracks when he left, cover any signs of where he was going to put her. With any luck, by the time she was discovered there wouldn't be much left to find.

First he made his way to the spot alone. His hearing was keen. Now he tried to maximize it, to force it to filter past the sighing of the wind and the creaking of the already heavy branches. Down this way there was a steep path. Past it and on a sharp incline was a pile of rocks layered by heavy loose stones. Very few people bothered to climb there. It was off-limits for riders—the stable didn't want the suburban housewives who were its main
customers breaking their necks.

A year ago he had happened to be curious enough to make that climb, and had rested on a boulder-sized rock. His hand had slid across the rock and he'd felt the opening behind it. Not a cave entrance, but a natural formation like the mouth of a cave. Even then, the thought had passed his mind that it would be a great place to hide something.

It was exhausting to reach with the snow turning icy, but, slipping and sliding, he made the climb. The space was still there, a little smaller than he remembered, but he could force the body in. The next step was the worst. Going back to the car, he would have to take infinite caution to avoid any chance of being observed. He'd parked at an angle so that no one who happened to drive in would have a direct view of what he was removing from the trunk, and anyhow a black plastic bag in itself wasn't suspicious.

In life Ethel had been deceptively slim. But as he picked up the plastic-shrouded body he reflected that those expensive outfits had concealed a heavy-boned frame. He tried to heave the bag over his shoulder, but, perverse in death as she had been in life, Ethel must have begun the process of rigor mortis. Her body refused to slide into manageable lines. In the end, he half carried, half dragged the bag as far as the incline, then sheer adrenaline gave him the strength to haul her up the sloping, slippery rocks to the spot.

His original plan had been to leave her in the bag. But at the last minute he changed his mind. Forensics units were getting too damn smart. They could find evidence on anything, fibers from clothes or carpets or human hair that no eye would notice.

Ignoring the cold as the gusting wind seared his forehead
and the pellets of snow turned his cheeks and chin into a chunk of ice, he placed the bag in position over the cave and began to rip. It would not give. Two-ply, he thought grimly, remembering all the commercials. Savagely he tugged at it and then grimaced as the bag gave and Ethel's body came into view.

The white wool suit was stained with blood. The collar of her blouse was caught in the gaping hole in her throat. One eye was slightly open. In the gathering dawn it seemed less sightless than contemplative. The mouth that never knew repose in Ethel's life was pursed as though about to start another one of her interminable sentences. The last one she ever got to spit out had been her fatal mistake, he told himself with grim satisfaction.

Even with gloves on, he hated touching her. She'd been dead nearly fourteen hours. It seemed to him there was a faint, sweet odor coming from her body. With sudden disgust he shoved her corpse down and began wedging stones on top of it. The opening was deeper than he'd realized, and the stones dropped neatly in place over her. A casual climber wouldn't dislodge them.

The job was finished. The blowing snow had already covered up his footsteps. Ten minutes after he got out of here, all trace of him and the presence of the car would be obliterated.

He crushed the shredded plastic into a wadded ball and began hurrying toward the car. Now he was frantic to leave, to be far from this exposure to discovery. At the border of the parking lot, he waited. The same cars were there, still untouched. There were no fresh tracks in the lot.

Five minutes later, he was back on the Thruway, the bloodied, torn bag that had been Ethel's shroud jammed under the spare tire. Now there was plenty of room for her suitcases and carry-on and purse.

The roadway was icy now, the commuter traffic beginning, but in a few hours he'd be back in New York, back to sanity and reality. He made his final stop, a lake he remembered not far from the Thruway, that was too polluted now for fishing. It was a good place to dump Ethel's purse and luggage. All four pieces were heavy. The lake was deep, and he knew they'd sink and get caught in the mass of junk that rested on the bottom. People even dumped old cars here.

He tossed Ethel's belongings as far as he could heave them and watched as they disappeared under the dark-gray water. Now the only thing left to do was to get rid of the torn, bloodstained wad of plastic. He decided to stop at a garbage bin when he got off the West Side Highway. It would be lost in the mountain of trash carted off tomorrow morning.

It took three hours to get back into the city. The driving became more treacherous and he tried to keep his distance from other cars. He didn't need a fender bender. Months from now no one would have any reason to know that he'd been out of the city today.

It worked according to plan. He stopped for a split second on Ninth Avenue and got rid of the plastic bag.

At eight o'clock he was delivering the car back to the gas station on Tenth Avenue that rented old cars as a sideline. Cash only. He knew they didn't keep records.

At ten o'clock, freshly showered and changed, he was in his place, gulping straight bourbon and trying to shake the sudden chilling attack of nerves. His mind went over every instant of the time that had elapsed since he'd stood in Ethel's apartment yesterday and listened to her sarcasm, her ridicule, her threats.

Then she'd known. The antique dagger from her desk in his hand. Her face filled with fear and she'd started to back away.

BOOK: While My Pretty One Sleeps
13.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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