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Mary Jane Clark's latest thriller, "Dancing in the Dark," follows the same formula that has earned her a devoted following for years. She picks an interesting location; this time, the setting is beautiful Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Ocean Grove is both a mecca for tourists who love water sports and a place of historical interest. Clark's attractive and admirable heroine is Diane Mayfield, a single parent by default. Diane's husband, Phil, is a white collar criminal who is serving time at a federal correctional institution, leaving his wife to play the roles of mother, father, and breadwinner for their two children, Michelle and Anthony.

Diane is forced to cancel a much anticipated family vacation to the Grand Canyon when, Joel, her boss at KEY news, orders her to cover a breaking story at the Jersey shore. A young lady named Leslie Patterson has been found bound and gagged after disappearing for three days. The police are convinced that Leslie staged her own abduction. Joel wants Leslie to prepare a segment on "girls who cry wolf" for her newsmagazine show.

Diane drags her reluctant children to Ocean Grove, and the story she has been sent to follow becomes more and more complicated. Another girl goes missing and is subsequently found dead; there are a whole host of suspects who could be behind the abductions. Among them are a mentally disturbed man, the boyfriend of the two victims, and a harried husband who has been quarreling more and more with his wife. Red herrings pile up and the reader is kept guessing until Clark comes up with a truly surprising ending.

"Dancing in the Dark" has brief chapters, spare writing, and sharply delineated characters, including an incompetent psychiatrist, a heartbroken real estate agent, and a woman who lives with her children in a tented community known as the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. Clark nicely integrates Ocean Grove's scenic setting into the narrative, and the story moves along at a fast clip. One of the sad themes of the book is the epidemic of anorexia in Ocean Grove. Young girls are starving and mutilating themselves in an effort to gain control of their lives and their inner pain. Without trivializing this serious issue, Clark shows how difficult it is to treat these young women and what a tremendous toll their illness takes on their helpless families. Another theme is the predatory nature of the media. Whenever and wherever tragedy strikes, the television cameras start rolling. "Dancing in the Dark" is an engrossing story by a talented author who knows how to keep her readers hooked until the final page.
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on July 31, 2005
Keys News Correspondent Diane Mayfield is getting ready to take her kids to the Grand Canyon. Instead her boss insists she cover a news story, about "girls who cry wolf", in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Allowed to take her family, Diane is torn between her job and her kids. Local girl, Leslie Patterson had claimed that she was kidnapped for three days. Fortunately, she was returned safely but no one believed her because of her history of emotional problems. However, another young woman Carly Neath is kidnapped and is discovered dead days later. Diane and her news crew are right on top of the story. Dr Messinger, Larry Belcaro, Jonathan Richey, and Shawn Ostrander are seemingly tied in to the investigation. In the meantime, Diane struggles with discovering her daughter's own problems and tries to keep her emotions in check when her son goes missing. So many characters and so many stories are adeptly resolved in the end. A lot of tough issues to contend with as the chapters fly by
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on August 11, 2005
Having been an unquenchable reader of Mary Higgins Clark I have tried numerous authors to find anyone that holds my attention and still leaves me wanting more when the mystery is solved. No one has done that for me until I picked up the first Mary Jane Clark book. Each time the new one came out I seized it immediately always expecting that this one could not possibly be as good as the last one. Each time, I am pleased to say, it was every bit as exciting and challenging. It hurts me terribly to say this, but after reading this last book I just have to face the fact that a new queen has taken the throne and the crown. If you are reading this and have not read all of Mary Jane Clarks work, I warn you, you too may have to conclude that she is as good as Mary Higgins Clark, if not a bit better.

Sorry Mary. I still love ya!!!
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on March 7, 2016
Another good mystery in this series. The reporter has to postpone her family's vacation or face losing her job. She is sent to report on a girl gone missing for three days but when she is found no one believes she was kidnapped. The story is about girls that cry wolf. But when another girl goes missing but is found dead it throws a whole net light on the story. Lots if people with motives, but who is the killer.
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on July 20, 2006
I picked the book up at the local drugstore here in Toronto, and I thought what the heck. Its summer, and who doesn't want to read a good summer mystery on the subway each day to and from work? So I got this thinking that it would be a good read, the premise seemed interesting. However, when actually getting into the first 150 pages takes a little bit of effort, because it is not an exciting story. There were a lot of characters, and little development. And for the first time ever, I realised who the "killer" actually was when I still had 200 pages to go. If you want to read a good thriller, read something by James Patterson, Jonathan Kellerman, or Illona Haus (new Canadian author). Mary Jane Clark (the name) sounds like she should be writing long winded drama novels.
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on August 2, 2005
In her eighth novel, Mary Jane Clark spins a suspenseful story around what has become the signature element in her books --- an employee of the fictional organization KEY News encountering dire circumstances.

This time it's reporter Diane Mayfield, who is anticipating a much-needed vacation to the Grand Canyon with her kids when her boss derails the trip. Under threat of being fired if she doesn't accept the assignment, and with her sister and two children in tow, Diane heads to Ocean Grove, New Jersey, to cover a story for the television news magazine "Hourglass."

In this picturesque town on the Jersey Shore, things aren't as idyllic as they seem. Eighteen-year-old Leslie Patterson, who was missing for three days while an all-out search ensued, turns up on the grounds of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Area. She claims to have been kidnapped, held in an unknown place by a man who forced her to dance with him in the dark. (The book shares its title with a song by rocker Bruce Springsteen, who hails from Asbury Park, a town where some of the action in the book takes place.) The authorities, though, believe she faked her own abduction. Their assumption is based in part on the fact that Leslie, who has a history of anorexia and cutting, was recently dumped by her boyfriend, Shawn, and wanted his sympathy. Diane lands an exclusive interview with Leslie for a piece about women who "cry wolf" to get attention.

When a second abduction occurs --- and leads to a murder --- it appears Leslie was telling the truth. Ocean Grove suddenly seems more menacing than scenic, and the clues begin to pile up. From a resident at the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Area (a summer resort where vacationers live in colorful tent homes) to Leslie's unconventional therapist to her ex-boyfriend, just about everyone is a suspect and red herrings abound.

Diane is determined to follow up on every lead and be the first to uncover the truth. But her professional and personal paths collide when a member of her family goes missing, and the stakes are suddenly about much more than scooping the competition.

Although the emphasis on anorexia and cutting at times overwhelms the whodunit aspect of the plot, Clark --- a producer at CBS News --- is adept at using short, compelling chapters and vivid writing to keep the action humming along. If you're looking for a fun, fast-paced read for the beach or elsewhere, take a turn with DANCING IN THE DARK.

--- Reviewed by Shannon McKenna
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on April 24, 2016
The main character, Diane, was hard to identify with. The entire story was about anorexia and cutting. It was so very overdone.

The ending was quite disappointing and hard to digest. Not Ms. Clark's best.
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on October 27, 2014
Interesting with the therapy group and their issues plus Mom trying to cope with husband in jail and keep her job and yet still be there and not disappoint her children too much.
Like it brought them closer together didn't tear the whole family apart.
Lots of interacts with all different sorts of people.
Amazing all the social issues that were brought up in this book.
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on March 9, 2015
Yeah! I have fouond a new favorite author that has the ability to keep my engrossed and has written quite a few books! The books are clean, fun whodunits! Enjoying my 4th book of hers and look forward to all of them!
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on August 19, 2005
I loved this book...it keeps you guessing to the very end. You don't have to be familiar with Ocean Grove NJ to be drawn in...but, I have to say, that being familiar with Ocean Grove certainly enhanced my reading experience. A great summer mystery no matter you set up your chair and umbrella!
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