A desperate mother.
Her missing child.
A stolen chalice.
With Silent Night, Mary Higgins Clark, America's own Queen of Suspense, gave her readers their best Christmas present ever.
Now, with All Through the Night, she once again celebrates the Christmas season with a tale of suspense that will keep readers turning the pages -- all through the night.
At the center of the novel are two of Mary Higgins Clark's most beloved characters, Alvirah, the lottery winner turned amateur sleuth, and her husband, Willy, both of them caught up in a Christmas mystery that calls on all of Alvirah's deductive powers, as well as Willy's world-class common sense.
The story begins when a young unmarried woman leaves her newborn child on the rectory doorstep at a church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. At the same moment, inside the church, a young man is stealing a treasured artifact, a chalice adorned with a single star-shaped diamond. Both the infant and the chalice disappear.
Seven years later, a few weeks before Christmas, Alvirah and Willy are busy helping Willy's sister Cordelia, a nun who runs a thrift shop that doubles as an after-school shelter for neighborhood kids, prepare for the upcoming Christmas pageant. The future of the shelter is threatened, however, when the city condemns the building for that use, and it is further jeopardized when a nearby brownstone to which the shelter was to be moved turns out to have been willed to a young couple who were tenants in the building. Alvirah refuses to believe that the will is genuine and sets out to prove that the couple are con artists. Soon she is involved in the mystery of the chalice and the child.
In All Through the Night, Mary Higgins Clark has fashioned a Christmas gift for all her readers.
Fans of Mary Higgins Clark and cozy mysteries will relish this Christmas confection. Unlike her previous holiday novel, Silent Night, All Through the Night is virtually free of life-and-death crime. Rather, it is a Dickensian tale of good deeds rewarded and crimes punished.
The wintry story begins on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with 18-year-old Sondra Lewis, an aspiring violinist, tearfully leaving her baby on the steps of St. Clement's Church. Unbeknownst to her, Lenny Centino is robbing that same church on the same night, with his attention particularly on the Church's diamond inlaid chalice. He finds a buggy outside the church and uses it for cover as he flees. Only later does he realize that his take for the night includes the infant Stellina (Italian for star). The narrative then abruptly moves ahead seven years. Clark's lottery-winning protagonists, Alvirah and her husband Willy (introduced in Weep No More, My Lady) return for some amateur sleuthing. Sister Cordelia's thrift shop doubles as an after-school recreation place for neighborhood children (including a shy little girl named Star), but the building has been condemned. Bessie Maher had vowed she was leaving the house to the nun and her children. Now that she is gone, the will indicates that the tenants of the house, Vic and Linda Baker, are the true heirs. As December rushes on towards Christmas, Alvirah struggles to put things right before the children are left in the cold.
Like the best holiday stories, All Through the Night steers toward sentimentality, but it veers back on course with narrative wit and Alvirah's charm. Clark's prose is lean and her plotting is brisk. This is a mystery that would be a pleasure to share aloud with a family gathered at the fireplace for some holiday cheer. --Patrick O'Kelley