The Cradle Will Fall

The Cradle Will Fall

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A “superbly plotted” (Los Angeles Times) page-turning classic from the undisputed Queen of Suspense and #1 New York Times bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark.

A minor road accident landed county prosecutor Katie DeMaio in Westlake Hospital. That night, from her window, she thought she saw a man load a woman’s body into the trunk of a car...or was it just a sleeping pill induced nightmare? At work the next day, Katie began investigating a suicide that looked more like murder. Initial evidence pointed elsewhere, but medical examiner Richard Carroll saw a trail leading to Dr. Edgar Highley. He suspected that the famous doctor’s work “curing” infertile women was more than controversial—that it was deceitful, depraved, and often deadly. But before Richard could tell Katie his fears, she left the office for the weekend and an appointment for routine Dr. Highley’s operating room.

“A harrowing tale” (The New York Times Book Review) that’s “indescribably suspenseful” (San Francisco Chronicle), The Cradle Will Fall is a page-turning thriller of the highest order.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780671741198
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 06/01/1991
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 107,852
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 700L (what's this?)

About the Author

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark has written forty suspense novels, four collections of short stories, a his­torical novel, a memoir, and two children’s books. With bestselling author Alafair Burke she writes the Under Suspicion series including The Cinderella Murder, All Dressed in White, The Sleeping Beauty Killer, Every Breath You Take, and You Don’t Own Me. With her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, she has coauthored five more suspense novels. More than one hundred million copies of her books are in print in the United States alone. Her books are international bestsellers.


Saddle River, New Jersey and New York, New York

Date of Birth:

December 24, 1929

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


New York University; B.A., Fordham University, 1979

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

If her mind had not been on the case she had won, Katie might not have taken the curve so fast, but the intense satisfaction of the guilty verdict was still absorbing her. It had been a close one. Roy O'Connor was one of the top defense attorneys in New Jersey. The defendant's confession had been suppressed by the court, a major blow for the prosecution. But still she had managed to convince the jury that Teddy Copeland was the man who had viciously murdered eighty-year-old Abigail Rawlings during a robbery.

Miss Rawlings' sister, Margaret, was in court to hear the verdict and afterward had come up to Katie. "You were wonderful, Mrs. DeMaio," she'd said. "You look like a young college girl. I never would have thought you could, but when you talked, you proved every point; you made them feel what he did to Abby. What will happen now?"

"With his record, let's hope the judge decides to send him to prison for the rest of his life," Katie answered.

"Thank God," Margaret Rawlings had said. Her eyes, already moist and faded with age, filled with tears. Quietly she brushed them away as she said, "I miss Abby so. There was just the two of us left. And I keep thinking how frightened she must have been. It would have been awful if he'd gotten away with it."

"He didn't get away with it!" The memory of that reassurance distracted Katie now, made her press her foot harder on the accelerator. The sudden increase in speed as she rounded the curve made the car fishtail on the sleet-covered road.

"!" She gripped the wheel frantically. The county road was dark. The car raced across the divider and spun around. From the distance she saw headlights approaching.

She turned the wheel into the skid but could not control the car. It careened onto the shoulder of the road, but the shoulder too was a sheet of ice. Like a skier about to jump, the car poised for an instant at the edge of the shoulder, its wheels lifting as it slammed down the steep embankment into the wooded fields.

A dark shape loomed ahead: a tree. Katie felt the sickening crunch as metal tore into bark. The car shuddered. Her body was flung forward against the wheel, then slammed backward. She raised her arms in front of her face, trying to protect it from the splinters of flying glass that exploded from the windshield. Sharp, biting pain attacked her wrists and knees. The headlights and panel lights went out. Dark, velvety blackness was closing over her as from somewhere off in the distance she heard a siren.

The sound of the car door opening; a blast of cold air. "My God, it's Katie DeMaio!"

A voice she knew. Tom Coughlin, that nice young cop. He testified at a trial last week.

"She's unconscious."

She tried to protest, but her lips wouldn't form words. She couldn't open her eyes.

"The blood's coming from her arm. Looks like she's cut an artery."

Her arm was being held; something tight was pressing against it.

A different voice: "She may have internal injuries, Tom Westlake's right down the road. I'll call for an ambulance. You stay with her."

Floating. Floating. I'm all right. It's just that I can't reach you.

Hands lifting her onto a stretcher; she felt a blanket covering her, sleet pelting her face.

She was being carried. A car was moving. No, it was an ambulance. Doors opening and closing. If only she could make them understand. I can hear you. I'm not unconscious.

Tom was giving her name. "Kathleen DeMaio, lives in Abbington. She's an assistant prosecutor. No, she's not married. She's a widow. Judge DeMaio's widow."

John's widow. A terrible sense of aloneness. The blackness was starting to recede. A light was shining in her eyes. "She's coming around. How old are you, Mrs. DeMaio?"

The question, so practical, so easy to answer. At last she could speak. "Twenty-eight."

The tourniquet Tom had wrapped around her arm was being removed. Her arm was being stitched. She tried not to wince at the needles of pain.

X-rays. The emergency-room doctor. "You're quite fortunate, Mrs. DeMaio. Some pretty severe bruises. No fractures. I've ordered a transfusion. Your blood count is pretty low. Don't be frightened. You'll be all right."

"It's just..." She bit her lip. She was coming back into focus and managed to stop herself before she blurted out that terrible, unreasoning, childish fear of hospitals.

Tom asking, "Do you want us to call your sister? They're going to keep you here overnight."

"No. Molly's just over the flu. They've all had it." Her voice sounded so weak. Tom had to bend over to hear her.

"All right, Katie. Don't worry about anything. I'll have your car hauled out."

She was wheeled into a curtained-off section of the emergency room. Blood began dripping through a tube inserted into her right arm. Her head was clearing now.

Her left arm and knees hurt so much. Everything hurt. She was in a hospital. She was alone.

A nurse was smoothing her hair back from her forehead. "You're going to be fine, Mrs. DeMaio. Why are you crying?"

"I'm not crying." But she was.

She was wheeled into a room. The nurse handed her a paper cup of water and a pill. "This will help you rest, Mrs. DeMaio."

Katie was sure this must be a sleeping pill. She didn't want it. It would give her nightmares. But it was so much easier not to argue.

The nurse turned off the light. Her footsteps made soft padding sounds as she left the room. The room was cold. The sheets were cold and coarse. Did hospital sheets always feel like this? Katie slid into sleep knowing the nightmare was inevitable.

But this time it took a different form. She was on a roller coaster. It kept climbing higher and higher, steeper and steeper, and she couldn't get control of it. She was trying to get control. Then it went around a curve and off the tracks and it was falling. She woke up trembling just before it hit the ground.

Sleet rapped on the window. She pulled herself up unsteadily. The window was open a crack and making the shade rattle. That was why the room was so drafty. She'd close the window and raise the shade and then maybe she'd be able to sleep. In the morning she could go home. She hated hospitals.

Unsteadily she walked over to the window. The hospital gown they'd given her barely came to her knees. Her legs were cold. And that sleet. It was mixed with more rain now. She leaned against the windowsill, looked out.

The parking lot was turning into streams of gushing water.

Katie gripped the shade and stared down into the lot two stories below.

The trunk lid of a car was going up slowly. She was so dizzy now. She swayed, let go of the shade, and it snapped up. She grabbed the windowsill. She stared down into the trunk. Was something white floating down into it? A blanket? A large bundle?

She must be dreaming this, she thought, then Katie pushed her hand over her mouth to muffle the shriek that tore at her throat. She was staring down into the trunk of the car. The trunk light was on. Through the waves of sleet-filled rain that slapped against the window, she watched the white substance part. As the trunk closed she saw a face -- the face of a woman grotesque in the uncaring abandon of death.

Copyright © 1980 by Mary Higgins Clark

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Cradle Will Fall 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow!! I just finished the book a couple days ago, and was kinda freaked out that my doctor was going to make me drink that poisened too since i am 8 months pregnant. it is a great book, and 'Where Are The Children' is a GREAT book too.
bm66 More than 1 year ago
Good read. First time I've read Mary Higgins Clark. Will definately try another of her mysteries.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would diffently recommend this book to everyone who like murder mysterys I loved it.
Bookworm1951 More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite authors. Although it was easy to figure out who the bad buy was, why and how he was doing things, it was still a compelling read. Not really a mystery book but a true suspense story. Hard to put down. Unfortunately, the nook edition had a fair amount of editing errors scattered throughout.
TinyDancer11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Mary Higgins Clark. Even if many of her books are similar, they always keep you guessing. This one seemed a little different than her usual books, and I loved it just as much. Always a who-done-it of course, but this one took an unusual approach!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very suspenseful will keep you reading until the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted a baby I wanted to give my husband a baby. I never gave that baby or had any to give. My life has not been happy and its not that i havent tried. If only my life is a series of ifs. If we could turn back the clock I would not make those miastakes again. My heart is so sad ...if only
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow so far it looks really good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is absotuly amazing!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Suspenseful in the sense that you can mostly figure out what's happening but leaves you dying to know if the characters will figure it out as well...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! Mary Higgins Clark is a brilliant writer and always keeps you interested. The Cradle Will Fall was very suspenseful and a great thriller. This novel gave me chills and I had so much trouble at trying to put it down. I would highly recommend The Cradle Will Fall to anyone. It's a must read!
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Lindy17 More than 1 year ago
This book had me hooked from the moment I read the summary on the back to the time I finished on the last page! Mary Higgins Clark did an excellent job and I would reccommend this book to anyone and everyone. This was my first book that I have read of Ms. Clark, and I will continue to read her books because this one was pure genius!
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