In this second Christmas novella by Mary Higgins Clark we revisit two of her favorite characters, Alvirah and Willy Meehan.  Alvirah and Willy are volunteering at a local after-school shelter when they stumble into a seven-year old mystery involving an abandoned newborn and a stolen treasured artifact – a diamond set chalice.  The two must use all of their deductive powers to solve the puzzle before the shelter is closed for good and the chalice is lost forever.

Bubby: In years past, Sissy and I had a tradition of giving the newest Mary Higgins Clark thriller as a Christmas gift to our mother each year.  Imagine how thrilled we were when Ms. Clark wrote her first Christmas novella, Silent Night, in 1996. Mom was thrilled too. In later years, Mary Higgins Clark teamed up with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark to write the annual story.  Although our mom is no longer with us, we still enjoy rereading these holiday mysteries every year. All Through the Night is one of my favorites because of the main characters, Alvirah and Willy. They are featured in several other books and I love them in every one. They are a former housecleaner and plumber who struck it rich in the lottery but still maintain their working class sensibilities and humor.

Sissy: I covet Alvirah’s secret agent diamond starburst pin. I don’t know if it’s actually in this book but I think it is and when I see the name Alvirah I always think of that sparkling pin. This is not in any way your usual dark and twisty Mary Higgins Clark mystery, but rather Clark’s nod to the cozy mystery genre. Willy and Alvirah are like your favorite wacky great-aunt and uncle, only unlike my great-aunts and uncles they have pots of money. Why, Bubby, do we have no relatives leaving us pots of money?

Bubby: Because, Sissy, all of our relatives had lots of children and died penniless. Maybe Willy and Alvirah could adopt us? If they were real, I’m sure they would! My favorite character in this novella is little 7 year old Stellina. She is just the sweetest thing ever. I like my holiday stories to be light and fluffy with lots of snow, lots of cheer and a happy ending. All Through the Night provides all of that and more.

Sissy:  This story has your requisite holiday newborn babe, only this one is abandoned in a church, the holiday sparkle, in the form of a stolen, jewel-encrusted chalice, and a Christmas theme name, Stellina (you know, as in stellar, or star).  Why go with Mary, Carol, Noel, or Holly, when you can make up a new name?  I love Mary Higgins Clark, but I hate the name Stellina.  It’s like a mob wife name.  I would have come up with something better, like Starlighta, Jingloria, or Awreatha.  Right–back to my original train of thought.  We have the feel good aspect of a saved homeless shelter, and a nice little tale all wrapped up in the end with green paper, red bows, and glitter spray.

Bubby:  Awreatha? Wow. I don’t know why you didn’t use that name for your first daughter! Oh, wait – she was born in January, not December. She’s lucky you didn’t go with “Frostiana.” Whatever your preference in names, dear reader, you will like this tasty little morsel of a Christmas tale. 4 bubbles from Bubby-Claus.

Sissy: Yes, a perfect read for your Hawaiian Christmas vacation. 3 1/2 bubbles and Mele Kalikimaka from Santa Sissy.

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