The Christmas Thief: A Novel Hardcover – Nov 9 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Mother and daughter Clark, each a bestseller in her own right, have produced a singularly slight and unmemorable tale with their third holiday suspense novel (after 2001's He Sees You When You're Sleeping). This time the villainy centers on an 80-foot Vermont spruce earmarked for the traditional Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. Unbeknownst to the tree's owners, its branches contain millions of dollars' worth of diamonds, secreted there more than a decade earlier by con man Packy Noonan to conceal the proceeds of an investment scam. One of the scam's victims happens to be vacationing near the site of the planned tree-cutting, along with Alvirah and Willy Meehan, who successfully resolved a kidnapping in their previous caper. When Packy is finally paroled, he heads straight for the treasure, enmeshing him, his confederates, the Meehans and a bevy of other characters in vandalism, abduction and other crimes. Unfortunately, there's no mystery concerning who's doing what or why and little sense of menace or suspense. Classic mystery fans may be amused by the contemporary take on Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons," but many readers, including those devoted to the Clarks' solo efforts, will be disappointed.
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About the Author
Mary Higgins Clark's books are world-wide bestsellers. In the U.S. alone, her books have sold over 85 million copies.
Her next suspense novel, Where Are You Now? will be published by Simon & Schuster in April 2008.
She is the author of twenty-six previous suspense novels, Where Are the Children? (1975), A Stranger Is Watching (1978), The Cradle Will Fall (1980), A Cry in the Night (1982), Stillwatch (1984), Weep No More, My Lady (1987), While My Pretty One Sleeps (1989), Loves Music, Loves to Dance (1991), All Around the Town (1992), I'll Be Seeing You (1993), Remember Me (1994), Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1995), Silent Night (1995), Moonlight Becomes You (1996), Pretend You Don't See Her (1997), You Belong To Me (1998), All Through the Night (1998), We'll Meet Again (1999), Before I Say Good-Bye (2000), On the Street Where You Live (2001), Daddy's Little Girl (2002), The Second Time Around (2003), Nighttime is My Time (2004), No Place Like Home (2005), Two Little Girls in Blue (2006) and I Heard That Song Before (2007). She is the author of three collections of short stories, The Anastasia Syndrome & Other Stories (1989), The Lottery Winner: Alvirah & Willy Stories (1994) and My Gal Sunday: Henry and Sunday Stories (1996). Her first book, a biographical novel about George Washington, was re-issued with the title, Mount Vernon Love Story, in June 2002. Her memoir, Kitchen Privileges, was published by Simon & Schuster in November 2002. Her first children's book, Ghost Ship, illustrated by Wendell Minor, was published in April 2007 as a Paula Wiseman Book/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
She is co-author, with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, of four holiday suspense novels Deck the Halls (2000), He Sees You When You're Sleeping (2001), The Christmas Thief (2004) and Santa Cruise (2006).
Two of her novels were made into feature films, Where Are the Children? and A Stranger Is Watching. Many of her other works, novels and short stories, were made into television films.
Mary Higgins Clark's fame as a writer was achieved against heavy odds. Born and raised in the Bronx, her father died when she was eleven and her mother struggled to raise her and her two brothers. On graduating from high school, she went to secretarial school, so she could get a job and help with the family finances. After three years of working in an advertising agency, travel fever seized her. For the year 1949, she was a stewardess on Pan American Airlines' international flights. "My run was Europe, Africa and Asia," she recalls. "I was in a revolution in Syria and on the last flight into Czechoslovakia before the Iron Curtain went down." After flying for a year, she married a neighbor, Warren Clark, nine years her senior, whom she had known since she was 16. Soon after her marriage, she started writing short stories, finally selling her first to Extension Magazine in 1956 for $100.
Left a young widow by the death of her husband from a heart attack in 1964, Mary Higgins Clark went to work writing radio scripts and, in addition, decided to try her hand at writing books. Every morning, she got up at 5 AM and wrote until 7 AM, when she had to get her five children ready for school. Her very first book was a biographical novel about George Washington, inspired by a radio series she was writing, "Portrait of a Patriot." Originally published in 1969 by Meredith Press with the title Aspire to the Heavens, it was discovered years later by a Washington family member and re-issued in 2002 with the title, Mount Vernon Love Story.
Mary Higgins Clark's first suspense novel, Where Are the Children? was published by Simon & Schuster in 1975. It became a bestseller and marked a turning point in her life and career. It is currently in its 75th edition in paperback and was re-issued in hardcover as a Simon & Schuster classic.
Freed to catch up on things she always wanted to do, she entered Fordham University at Lincoln Center, graduating summa cum laude in 1979 with a B.A. in philosophy. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Fordham University in 1998. She is a past trustee of Fordham University and Providence College and currently on the Board of Governors of the Hackensack College Medical Center. She has nineteen honorary doctorates.
She is #1 fiction bestselling author in France, where she received the Grand Prix de Literature Policière in 1980 and The Literary Award at the 1998 Deauville Film Festival. In 2000, she was named by the French Minister of Culture "Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters."
Mary Higgins Clark was chosen by Mystery Writers of America as Grand Master of the 2000 Edgar Awards. An annual Mary Higgins Clark Award sponsored by Simon & Schuster, to be given to authors of suspense fiction writing in the Mary Higgins Clark tradition, was launched by Mystery Writers of America during Edgars week in April 2001. She was the 1987 president of Mystery Writers of America and, for many years, served on their Board of Directors. In May 1988, she was Chairman of the International Crime Congress.
Active in Catholic affairs, Mary Higgins Clark was made a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, a papal honor. She is also a Dame of Malta and a Lady of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. She received the Catholic Big Sisters Distinguished Service Award in 1998 and the Graymoor Award from the Franciscan Friars in 1999. Honors she has received include the Gold Medal of Honor from the American-Irish Historical Society (1993), the Spirit of Achievement Award from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University (1994), the National Arts Club's first Gold Medal in Education (1994), the Horatio Alger Award (1997), the Outstanding Mother of the Year Award (1998), the Bronx Legend Award (1999), the 2001 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Passionists' Ethics in Literature Award (2002), the first Reader's Digest Author of the Year Award (2002), the Christopher Life Achievement Award (2003), the Ellis Island Family Heritage Award (2008), the Carol M. Reilly Award (2008) and the International Mystery Writers' First Lady of Mystery Award (2008). She is an active advocate and participant in literacy programs.
In 1996, Mary Higgins Clark married John Conheeney, the retired Chairman and CEO of Merrill-Lynch Futures. They live in Saddle River, New Jersey. Between them, they have seventeen grandchildren - Mary's six and John's eleven.
Carol Higgins Clark is the author of nine previous bestselling Regan Reilly mysteries. She is coauthor, along with her mother, Mary Higgins Clark, of a bestselling holiday mystery series. Also an actress, Carol Higgins Clark studied at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and has recorded several of her mother's works as well as her own novels. She received AudioFile's Earphones Award of Excellence for her reading of Jinxed. She lives in New York City.
Her website is www.carolhigginsclark.com.See all Product Description
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is a short book, which isn't bad for an evening if there are no good programs on television or a brief car trip. I was not happy that we didn't see much of the Meehans or the Reillys.
Opal is a sympathetic character, as is Milo, the "poet" who helped Packy and his gang but didn't know he was doing anything illegal. Packy is rather nasty, so it's good to see him get his comeuppance. And the tree's owners are too obsessive about the tree and its fate. That just doesn't ring true.
I'm not sorry I bought the book, and the Amazon price was right, but it's nothing that will stick with me over the long run.
I must admit I've always been a bit disappointed when Mary Higgins Clark's latest book is just short stories or is an Alvirah and Willy story. I'm always hoping for a new heavy duty full-length suspense novel that will worry me and keep me awake until I finish it.
Much as I wish I could give these very competent authors five stars, the story just isn't meaty enough for that. Go ahead and give it a read, but don't get your expectations up. Turn on the Christmas tree lights, get a cup of cocoa and zip through its 204 pages.