I've Got You Under My Skin is a thriller by Mary Higgins Clark published in April of 2014. This is the first of her books in the series Under Suspicion continuing to follow the lives of Laurie Moran, Timmy Moran, Alex Buckley and Leo Farley in the process.
The plot opens with three-year old Timmy Moran witnessing the murder of his father Greg Moran in front of his eyes by a masked man with blue eyes who runs away with a threat "Tell your mother that she's next. Then it's your turn." The life for Timmy changed ever since although he had never voiced out. His grandfather, Leo Farley - Retired First Deputy Commissioner of the New York Police Department - took early retirement the day after Greg's (Leo's Son-in-law) funeral and has taken up the responsibility of taking care of him and his mom, Laurie Moran.
Five years later, Laurie Moran - award-winning producer at Fisher Blake Studios, Manhattan, NY - just got approval from her boss - Brett Young - to start a new reality TV show titled Under Suspicion where high-profile unsolved crimes or crimes with solved with the wrong person being sent to prison will be reenacted in the hopes of solving them. The first case that she wants to take up is the twenty year old unsolved murder of Westchester County socialite Betsy Bonner Powell. Robert Nicholas Powell had thrown what he called as a Graduation Gala to his step-daughter, Claire Bonner and her three best friends on the day they graduated, with all kinds of pomp one could imagine including fireworks. The following morning Betsy Bonner Powell was found suffocated to death in her bed. All the four girls and Robert Powell were in the house and had solid alibis. Yet, the crime never was solved and the cloak of suspicion still lies on all their heads.
Perhaps that is the reason that Robert Powell accepts when Laurie approaches him with the idea of having all of the five folks on a reality TV show and get questioned on TV. Laurie's attempt is to get some really much needed questions answered, but will she solve the case…well, if she does then it would be a very heft side-benefit for the network. The network was giving 50K for each of them who comes on the show. Robert Powell agreed to give a quarter million dollars to each of the four girls. Lauire's network hires Alex Buckley, a young and famous criminal lawyer, to be the narrator of the program and also interview all the guests coming to the show.
Who killed Betsy? What happened to her emerald necklace? Why was there only one earring on the floor? Will Laurie and Alex together find the answers? All the while Laurie is getting her reality show on, is the threat to her life and Timmy's life gone? Who wanted to kill Greg all those years ago? And who wants to kill them now? What is the reason behind these killings?
During the making of the show and when it was being aired on TV, Laurie Moran gets introduced to various people that she and her network consider as possible suspects - Regina Callari (one of the best friends of Claire and who was on the night of the murder in the house, divorced with a son and runs a real estate agency), Alison Schaefer (another friend of Claire who was in the house on the night of the murder, married to Thomas "Rod" Kimball who is on crutches due to an accident and works as a pharmacist), Nina Craig (the last of the girls who was in the house the night of the murder, divorced, is an extra in movies and lives in Hollywood), Earl and Zach (Regina's ex-husband and Son respectively). Muriel Craig (Nina's mother), George Curtis (A restaurant mogul, friends with Rob and Betsy and was also present at the Graduation Gala twenty years ago), Jane Novak (Rob Powell's long-time housekeeper and was the one who found the body of Betsy) and Josh Damiano (Robert Powell's chauffer and constant help on the side).
Any one of them could have killed Betsy? But who? Mary Higgins Clark has spun her tale masterfully again. But I did feel that the ending was a little rushed. Despite that it is a decent thriller to read and a good beginning to a new series.
1) Most of Mary Higgins Clark's book titles turn out to be Song Titles and so does this. When I searched for what this song could be, it turned out to be Frank Sinatra's signature song that he first sang in 1946 on a weekly radio show. However it was first performed by Virginia Brice in the 1936 musical Born To Dance. (another movie for me to blog in future. :P). Here's the Frank Sinatra's version:
2) The author mentions in this book that Rod Kimball muses about an observation his grandmother made a long time ago - In most marriages, one of the couple is more in love than the other, and it's best if it's the man. The marriage will have a better chance of going the whole away (Chk. Pg. 39). Something similar Mary Higgins Clark has written in her 1994 book Remember Me (My review of the book here). In that book the heroine Menley Nichols thinks something similar only that her grandmother had told her this though - In most marriages, one often is more in love than the other. It's better if the woman is the one who doesn't love as deeply." (Pg. 31) Same words but differently written. I wonder if Mary Higgins Clark used her own lines again twenty years later in this book.