Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter Carol Higgins Clark have the
Rockefeller Center tree at the center of their third holiday
suspense novel. As the Rockefeller Center tree is one of the
best-known symbols of all things Christmas, it's easy for readers
to get wrapped around the action that unfolds.
The story features Mary's series characters --- Alvirah Meehan, a
lottery winner who has turned amateur sleuth, and her husband Willy
--- and Regan Reilly, Carol's private investigator character and
her fiancé, Jack. They are traveling to Vermont in
anticipation of the holiday season to visit a tree that has been
given to Alvirah. Along for the ride is Opal, another lottery
winner whose winnings were lost in a bad deal with a scammer named
Packy Noonan. She has never forgiven Packy for what he did to her,
and as the holidays approach she is feeling mighty sorry for
herself. Alvirah invites her along hoping to cheer her up.
As these New Yorkers head north to enjoy Vermont, an older couple
there is readying themselves to watch their eighty-foot blue spruce
get cut down as it has been selected to be the Rockefeller Center
tree. The tree is full of many memories for them, and thus these
days are filled with their recollections of earlier years.
These two groups of characters get linked together by the release
of Packy from prison. He breaks parole with a mad dash from St.
Patrick's Cathedral where he jumps into a waiting car being driven
by two of his scammer accomplices. Their destination: Vermont to
find a cache of diamonds that has been hidden in a tree there so
they can all head to Brazil and live the good life. You can guess
what tree they are in.
Written with humor as well as suspense, the tale gets more and more
involved as Opal is kidnapped, the tree is cut down by the thieves,
and assorted other characters all get drawn into the tale.
Yes, it's a tad farfetched and all neat and packaged, but it's also
a fun escapist holiday read. It's perfect to curl up with next to
the fire when the house is laden with gift wrap and ribbons and you
just do not feel like dealing with it. It's great reading while the
cookies are baking. It's a book you pick up once the guests leave
and you just want to unwind.
Aside here: I have spent time with both Mary and Carol and have
found them always to be such fun to be around. Reading this book, I
am drawn once again into the very special relationship that the two
of them have. I saw them on the "Today Show" talking about how they
wrote the book. They sat there discussing the plot and they were
finishing each other's sentences. As they bantered back and forth I
could hear how they must have chatted as they wrote. Picturing them
made reading the book all the more fun.
Reviewed by Carol Fitzgerald on December 27, 2010