SILENT NIGHT - Catherine Dornan always had the picture-perfect life. Two healthy, happy sons - Brian and Michael - and a loving husband, Tom, who still had the power to make her feel like a teenager. Even with the long hours he must keep, making his rounds at the hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, where they make their home, their marriage and family life have never suffered. Until he's struck down with Leukemia, and must be rushed to New York City for emergency surgery - right before Christmas.
Cally Siddons has always struggled to provide a happy home life for her young daughter, Gigi. Doing so, however, has not been easy, what with her troublesome younger brother, Jimmy, constantly appearing and disappearing, leaving their lives in shambles with each new arrival and departure. Cally already spent over a year in prison for helping her ex-con brother, and doesn't plan on being separated from Gigi again. Especially not around the holidays. But when Jimmy escapes from prison, she just knows that he'll somehow find her again, and that's one thing she can't face.
The paths cross between these two individuals when, attempting to take Michael and Brian's minds off of the fact that their father is sick, Catherine takes her two sons out for a night on the town in Manhattan to view the holiday festivities. After a few hours spent singing carols, visiting Rockefeller Center, and viewing the Christmas displays at the upscale department stores, they plan on visiting Tom in the hospital and giving him a St. Christopher's medal. The family has faith that St. Christopher will help him through this difficult time in his life, and prompt him to get better. But when Cally Siddons steals Catherine's wallet - the very same wallet that contains the St. Christopher's medal - Catherine's youngest son, Brian, vows to get it back, and ends up in the midst of a deadly tango between a homicidal ex-con, and his naive, well-meaning younger sister. One that could mean a very silent night. 5 stars.
ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT - Seven years ago, when Sondra was just eighteen-years-old, the promising violinist trekked to New York City, in the dead of winter, to give birth to her baby, and leave the small child on the steps of St. Clement's Church in Manhattan. Knowing that she was unable to care for her child, what with taking care of her grandfather, and attending classes to fulfill her dream of becoming a professional violinist, the young mother believed that the child would fare better if brought up by the kindly Monsignor, or at least be placed in a proper home.
On that same night, when Sondra abandoned her tiny baby girl, Lenny, a petty thief, was casing St. Clement's. At the time, he was searching for money, and eager to steal a silver chalice, harboring a star-shaped diamond, which once belonged to Bishop Joseph Santori. At the time, Lenny knew that the star-shaped diamond would bring him a pretty penny. But as he's escaping St. Clement's after the successful heist, he stumbles upon a weatherworn stroller, and walks off with it. It is only when he arrives at his Aunt's apartment that he finds the tiny baby girl bundled up inside. In an attempt to ward off questions from his Aunt, he claim's the baby as his own, aptly naming her Star - Stellina, in Italian - and vows to raise her as his own.
Seven years later, Sondra is now 25-years-old, and back in Manhattan to play a violin concert at Carnegie Hall, her debut to the world. Unfortunately, the fate of her child is the only thing on her mind, making it difficult for her to concentrate on her coming performance. When she meets Alvirah Meehan, a lottery winner and amateur sleuth, she begins to think that all of her Christmas dreams have come true. Alvirah agrees to help Sondra find her little girl. Now, Alvirah has taken on two cases for the holidays. She can only hope that each will have a happy ending; otherwise, she may not sleep all through the night. 5 stars.
Over the years, I have read many of the Christmas novels that Mary Higgins Clark releases with her daughter, Carol; however, I have never delved into one of Mary Higgins Clark's own novels. SILENT NIGHT and ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT were wonderful stepping stones for me. While SILENT NIGHT is mystery-light, and centers more around a slightly suspenseful story, laced with thoughts of spending the holidays with the ones you love, I still found it extremely entertaining, and, oddly enough, heartwarming. Out of the two featured in this collection, however, I have to admit that ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT was my favorite. The characters, and the magic of the holiday truly came to life within this mystery, and display the true meaning of Christmas marvelously. Clark has woven two delightful holiday stories that will warm you from head to toe.