All through the night
Racma M. Abdul
By: Mary Higgins Clark
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. .
Clark brings back two of her most popular characters, Alvirah, the former cleaning woman, now lottery winner turned amateur detective, and Alvirah’s stoic husband, Willy. The story opens with a young, unmarried woman who abandons her newborn child on the steps of a church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan; at the same time, inside the church, a thief is stealing a diamond-embedded chalice. While making his escape, the thief notices the baby in the stroller and takes off with the infant, disappearing into the night. Seven years later, during the Christmas season, Alvirah, caught in the thick of another mystery, becomes involved in the matter of the missing chalice and the child stolen from the rectory steps, and as usual, she soon has the whole business sorted out very neatly. A short, easy read that Clark’s many fans will be asking for. –Kathleen Hughes
Sondra stood in the doorway of a townhouse across the street from the church. The building was under repair, and the temporary scaffolding around the street level shielded her from the view of passersby. She wanted to be sure that Monsignor had left the church and was in the rectory before she left the baby. She had been attending services at St. Clement’s for the last couple of days and had become familiar with his routine. She also knew that during Advent he would now be conducting a seven o’clock recitation of the rosary service.
Weak from the strain and fatigue of the birth only hours earlier, her breasts swelling with the fluid that preceded her milk, she leaned against the door frame for support. A faint whimper from beneath her partially buttoned coat made her arms move in the rocking motion instinctive to mothers.
On a plain sheet of paper that she would leave with the baby she had written everything she could safely reveal: “Please give my little girl to a good and loving family to raise. Her father is of Italian descent; my grandparents were born in Ireland. Neither family has any hereditary diseases that I am aware of, so she should be healthy. I love her, but I cannot take care of her. If she asks about me someday, show her this note, please. Tell her that the happiest hours of my life will always be the ones when I held her in my arms after she was born. For those moments it was just the two of us, alone in the world.”
Sondra felt her throat close as she spotted the tall, slightly stooped figure of the monsignor emerge from the church and walk directly to the adjacent rectory. It was time.
She had bought baby clothes and supplies, including a couple of shirts, a long nightgown, booties and a hooded jacket, bottles of formula and disposable diapers. She had wrapped the baby papoose-style, in two receiving blankets and a heavy woolen robe, but because the night was so cold, at the last minute she had brought along a brown paper shopping bag. She had read somewhere that paper was a good
Art and delivery
Clark’s second holiday tale of suspense and sentiment opens with a young unmarried woman leaving her newborn baby on the steps of a church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. At the same time, a young man steals the church’s precious chalice. Both the child and the chalice then disappear, and it’s up to Alvirah, Clark’s lottery winner turned sleuth, and husband Willy to solve the mystery.