All Through the Night

( 21 )

Overview

Mary Higgins Clark, the Queen of Suspense, celebrates the season with this Christmas classic featuring two of her most beloved characters.

ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT

All of Alvirah's deductive powers and Willy's world-class common sense are called upon as the two stumble into a Christmas mystery. A woman abandons her newborn at a Manhattan church. Simultaneously, a thief is absconding with a treasured artifact, a chalice adorned with a star-shaped ...

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Overview

Mary Higgins Clark, the Queen of Suspense, celebrates the season with this Christmas classic featuring two of her most beloved characters.

ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT

All of Alvirah's deductive powers and Willy's world-class common sense are called upon as the two stumble into a Christmas mystery. A woman abandons her newborn at a Manhattan church. Simultaneously, a thief is absconding with a treasured artifact, a chalice adorned with a star-shaped diamond. To elude police, he grabs the stroller and disappears. Seven years later, the mother returns to the scene and finds Alvirah and Willy helping neighborhood kids prepare for a Christmas pageant at an after-school shelter. Soon the savvy sleuths set out to solve the puzzle of the missing child and chalice — and to unmask scam artists threatening to shut down the shelter.

Megabestseller Mary Higgins Clark tells a chilling Christmas story, reviving two of her most beloved characters in the process -- Alvirah Meehan and Alvirah's husband, Willy, from The Lottery Winner. Willy is playing Santa for the neighborhood children when he hears, from the last child in line, a desperate plea for help and the confession of a crime the child's stepfather is about to commit.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
A Suspenseful Stocking Stuffer

Mary Higgins Clark, the reigning queen of suspense, gives her millions of fans an early Christmas gift with All Through the Night. Clark's new novel is an engrossing suspense tale that reunites readers with Alvirah and Willy Meehan, that lucky couple who won $40 million in The Lottery Winner and decided to do what any other multimillionaire couple would do — solve deadly crimes. And All Through the Night gives the Meehans their most interesting case yet.

Actually, the first chapter of All Through the Night leaves the Meehans completely out of the picture. Instead, it focuses on young, aspiring musician Sondra Lewis — who decides to abandon her newborn baby daughter on the local church steps in hopes of it having a better home than she could provide for it. To say that that plan is misconceived is an understatement. Sondra figures for the few minutes the baby will be on the steps, it would be warmer in a shopping bag. Coincidentally, a thief inside the church is in the process of stealing a valuable chalice. On his way out of the church, he sees the shopping bag, figures he'll grab it as well, and soon finds himself with a baby daughter — one that could possibly smooth a rift between him and his mother, who grudgingly allows him to stay with her so he can care for the child.

Jump forward seven years. Sondra can't stop thinking about her child, and feeling overwhelming guilt at having abandoned the baby without making sure it was well cared for. The thief now has a beautifulseven-year-olddaughter whom he plans to use in an upcoming scheme. And in those seven years, Willy and Alvirah Meehan have won 40 million dollars, allowing them to spend all their free time sleuthing away.

But the case the Meehans begin snooping around in isn't, at least initially, related to either the stolen chalice or the abandoned baby. It seems that the Meehans are very much in the Christmas spirit, and eager to help the neighborhood children any way they can. However, the local after-school shelter for the neighborhood kids has been condemned. At first, it seems there's nothing to fear — the kids can use a nearby beautiful brownstone building that has been willed to good-hearted Kate Durkin by her sister, who has recently passed away. But Alvirah's nose for crime tingles when a mysterious second will turns up — one that inexplicably leaves the building to a couple who certainly could not possibly care less about helping needy kids. The witty and intelligent Alvirah only has a few days to try to prove the will a fake before the building is turned over to the suspicious couple — a challenge that surprisingly manages to tie into the church crime seven years prior.

All Through the Night is a perfect holiday gift from Clark to her fans. The suspense and mystery is lighter here than in her usual novels, but that doesn't mean it's any less engrossing. Clark has placed the likable and amusing Meehans in the middle of a suspense tale that may not give you nightmares, but certainly will keep you guessing as to how it will all be resolved. All Through the Night is the ideal stocking stuffer for the suspense lover in your life.
— Matt Schwartz, barnesandnoble.com

From the Publisher
"A consume-in-one-sitting Christmas treat." — USA Today

"Concocting a satisfying Christmas mystery is as tricky as making a good eggnog: you want a jigger of low-proof danger to mix smoothly with a measure of sweet deliverance. Mary Higgins Clark has whipped up a portable brew. . . ." — The Wall Street Journal

Library Journal
Clark's popular lottery winners, amateur sleuth Alvirah and her husband, Willy, are getting ready for Christmas. When the local after-school center is threatened and a friend's will is contested, Alvirah goes on the job. Before long, she also finds herself trying to locate a child abandoned seven years earlier by a young mother and trying to solve the mystery of a stolen chalice. Normally known for her suspenseful stories, Clark You Belong to Me, Audio Reviews, LJ 6/1/98 doesn't quite deliver. The listener isn't all that surprised at any of the revelations at the end of the program. The reading, by the author's daughter, best-selling writer and actor Carol Higgins Clark, is lively. However, numerous characters and little voice differentiation make the narrative difficult to follow. The author is always popular, but this is not an essential purchase. Recommended for larger collections.--Adrienne Furness, Lockport P.L., NY
Matt Schwartz
A Suspenseful Stocking Stuffer

Mary Higgins Clark, the reigning queen of suspense, gives her millions of fans an early Christmas gift with All Through the Night. Clark's new novel is an engrossing suspense tale that reunites readers with Alvirah and Willy Meehan, that lucky couple who won $40 million in The Lottery Winner and decided to do what any other multimillionaire couple would do -- solve deadly crimes. And All Through the Night gives the Meehans their most interesting case yet.

Actually, the first chapter of All Through the Night leaves the Meehans completely out of the picture. Instead, it focuses on young, aspiring musician Sondra Lewis -- who decides to abandon her newborn baby daughter on the local church steps in hopes of it having a better home than she could provide for it. To say that that plan is misconceived is an understatement. Sondra figures for the few minutes the baby will be on the steps, it would be warmer in a shopping bag. Coincidentally, a thief inside the church is in the process of stealing a valuable chalice. On his way out of the church, he sees the shopping bag, figures he'll grab it as well, and soon finds himself with a baby daughter -- one that could possibly smooth a rift between him and his mother, who grudgingly allows him to stay with her so he can care for the child.

Jump forward seven years. Sondra can't stop thinking about her child, and feeling overwhelming guilt at having abandoned the baby without making sure it was well cared for. The thief now has a beautiful seven-year-old daughter whom he plans to use in an upcoming scheme. And in those seven years, Willy and Alvirah Meehan have won 40 million dollars, allowing them to spend all their free time sleuthing away.

But the case the Meehans begin snooping around in isn't, at least initially, related to either the stolen chalice or the abandoned baby. It seems that the Meehans are very much in the Christmas spirit, and eager to help the neighborhood children any way they can. However, the local after-school shelter for the neighborhood kids has been condemned. At first, it seems there's nothing to fear -- the kids can use a nearby beautiful brownstone building that has been willed to good-hearted Kate Durkin by her sister, who has recently passed away. But Alvirah's nose for crime tingles when a mysterious second will turns up -- one that inexplicably leaves the building to a couple who certainly could not possibly care less about helping needy kids. The witty and intelligent Alvirah only has a few days to try to prove the will a fake before the building is turned over to the suspicious couple -- a challenge that surprisingly manages to tie into the church crime seven years prior.

All Through the Night is a perfect holiday gift from Clark to her fans. The suspense and mystery is lighter here than in her usual novels, but that doesn't mean it's any less engrossing. Clark has placed the likable and amusing Meehans in the middle of a suspense tale that may not give you nightmares, but certainly will keep you guessing as to how it will all be resolved. All Through the Night is the ideal stocking stuffer for the suspense lover in your life.
— Matt Schwartz, barnesandnoble.com

Kirkus Reviews
Lottery winners Alvirah and Willy Meehan are the guests of honor in this second helping of Christmas turkey from megaselling Clark (Silent Night, 1995, etc.).

Seven years ago, rising-star violinist Sondra Lewis, following an unwise dalliance with a married pianist, had the misfortune to abandon her newborn baby outside St. Clement's Church just as low-level thief Lenny Centino was looking for some cover after stealing St. Clement's prized silver chalice. Oblivious to its cargo, Lenny grabbed Sondra's stroller before she could get through to Monsignor Thomas Ferris, and took stroller and baby home to his aunt Lilly, who raised the little girl as Jimmy's. Now the time is at hand for Providence, in the form of retired cleaning woman Alvirah and her husband Willy, to set things straight by restoring Stellina Centino to the forlorn mother who's come back to town in the hopes of picking up some word of her. And there's more work for the redoubtable $40 million winners this Christmastide. Alvirah's friend Bessie Durkin Maher, the housekeeper who married widower Judge Mayer to keep her job, has died; but instead of leaving her house to the after-school center run by Willy's sister, Sister Cordelia, an 11th-hour will leaves it to her house-proud tenants Vic and Linda Baker—or so it seems to duller wits than Alvirah's. Vowing to think like Poirot, Alvirah goes to work righting wrongs and slaying dragons. Though Alvirah and Willy are both toned down from the oblivious consumers of The Lottery Winner (1994), the dragons themselves are so winded—neither Lenny Centino nor those precious frauds the Bakers have enough presence to headline a third-grade pageant—that their misdoings are less like crimes than detours, temporary swerves from the way of true happiness.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671027124
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 459,540
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Higgins Clark, #1 international and New York Times bestselling author, has written thirty-three suspense novels; three collections of short stories; a historical novel, Mount Vernon Love Story; two children’s books, including The Magical Christmas Horse; and a memoir, Kitchen Privileges. She is also the coauthor with Carol Higgins Clark of five holiday suspense novels. Her books have sold more than 100 million copies in the United States alone.

Biography

The Queen of Suspense, Bronx-born and -bred Mary Higgins Clark has achieved international success against heavy odds. Her father died when she was 11, and her mother struggled to raise and provide for Mary and her two brothers. Clark attended secretarial school after high school and worked for three years in an advertising agency before leaving to become a stewardess for Pan American Airlines. Throughout 1949, she flew international flights to Europe, Africa, and Asia. " I was in a revolution in Syria and on the last flight into Czechoslovakia before the Iron Curtain went down," she recalls. In 1950, she quit her job to marry Warren Clark, a neighbor nine years her senior whom she had known and admired since she was 16.

In the early years of her marriage, Clark began writing short stories, making her first sale in 1956 to Extension Magazine. Between writing and raising a family, the decade flew by. Then, in 1964, Warren Clark suffered a fatal heart attack, leaving his young widow with five children to support. She went to work writing radio scripts; and, around this time, she decided to try her hand at writing books. Inspired by a radio series she was working on, she drafted a biographical novel about George Washington. It was published in 1969 under the title Aspire to the Heavens. (In 2002, it was re-issued as Mount Vernon Love Story.) Her first suspense novel, Where Are the Children?, appeared in print in 1975. It was a huge hit and marked a turning point in her life. Since then, she has developed a loyal fan base, and each of her novels has hit the bestseller lists. She has also co-written stories and novels with her daughter Carol, a successful author in her own right.

In the 1970s, Clark enrolled in Fordham University at Lincoln Center, graduating summa cum laude in 1979. A great supporter of education, she has served as a trustee of her alma mater and Providence College and holds numerous honorary degrees. She remains active in Catholic affairs and has been honored with many awards. Her publisher, Simon & Schuster, funds an annual award in her name to be given to authors of suspense fiction writing in the Mary Higgins Clark tradition.

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    1. Hometown:
      Saddle River, New Jersey and New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 24, 1929
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      New York University; B.A., Fordham University, 1979
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Prologue

There were twenty-two days to go before Christmas, but Lenny was doing his Christmas shopping early this year. Secure in the knowledge that no one knew he was there, and standing so still and quiet that he hardly could hear himself breathe, he watched from the confessional as Monsignor Ferris went about the rounds of securing the church for the night. With a contemptuous smile, Lenny waited impatiently as the side doors were checked and the lights in the sanctuary extinguished. He shrank back when he saw the monsignor turn to walk down the side aisle, which meant that he would pass directly by the confessional. He cursed silently when a floorboard in the enclosure squeaked. Through a slit in the curtain he could see the clergyman stop and tilt his head, as if listening for another sound.

But then, as if satisfied, Monsignor Ferris resumed his journey to the back of the church. A moment later, the light in the vestibule was extinguished, and a door opened and closed. Lenny allowed himself an audible sigh — he was alone in St. Clement's church on West 103rd Street in Manhattan.

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 insulator against the cold. Not that the baby would be out in the frigid air for long, of course — just until Sondra could get to a phone and call the rectory.

She unbuttoned her coat slowly, shifting the baby only as needed, remembering to be especially careful of her head. The faint glow from the streetlight made it possible for her to see her infant's face clearly. "I love you," Sondra whispered fiercely. "And I will always love you." The baby stared up at her, her eyes fully open for the first time. Brown eyes stared into blue eyes, long dark-blond hair brushed against sprigs of the blond hair curling on the little forehead; tiny lips puckered and turned, seeking Mother's breast.

Sondra pressed the baby's head against her neck; her lips lingered on the soft cheek; her hand caressed the infant's back and legs. Then, in a decisive move, she slipped the tiny figure into the shopping bag, reached for the secondhand stroller folded next to her and tucked the handle under one arm.

She waited until several people had walked past her hiding place, then hurried to the curb and looked up and down the street. A block away traffic was stopped at the red light, but she saw no pedestrians coming in either direction.

A solid wall of parked cars on both sides of the street helped to protect Sondra from any curious eyes as she darted across the street to the rectory. There she ran up the three steps to the narrow stoop and opened the stroller. After engaging the brake, she laid the baby snugly under the stroller's hood and laid the bundle of clothes and bottles at her feet. She knelt for a moment and took one last look at her child. "Good-bye," she whispered. Then she stood and quickly ran down the steps and headed toward Columbus Avenue.

She would make the call to the rectory from a street phone two blocks away.

Lenny prided himself on being in and out of a church in less than three minutes. You never know about silent alarms, he thought, as he opened his backpack and pulled out a flashlight. Keeping the narrow beam pointed toward the floor, he quickly began to make his usual rounds. He went to the poor box first. Donations had been down lately, he'd noticed, but this one yielded a better than usual take, somewhere between thirty and forty dollars.

The offering boxes below the votive candles turned out to be the most satisfactory of any of the last ten churches he had hit. There were seven of them, placed at intervals in front of the statues of the saints. Quickly he smashed the locks and grabbed the cash.

In the last month he'd come to Mass here a couple of times to study the layout; he had observed that the priest consecrated the bread and wine in plain goblets, so he didn't bother to break into the tabernacle, since there'd be nothing special there. He was just as glad to avoid doing that anyway. The couple of years he'd spent in parochial school had had an effect on him, he acknowledged, making him queasy about doing certain things. It definitely got in his way when it came to robbing churches.

On the other hand, he had no qualms about leaving with the prize that had brought him here in the first place, the silver chalice with the star-shaped diamond at the base. It had belonged to Joseph Santori, the priest who founded St. Clement's parish one hundred years ago, and it was the one treasure this historic church contained.

A painting of Santori hung above a mahogany cabinet in a recess to the right of the sanctuary. The cabinet was ornate, its grillwork designed to both protect and display the chalice. After one of the masses he had attended, Lenny had drifted over to read the plaque beneath the cabinet.

At his ordination in Rome, Father, later Bishop, Santori was given this cup by Countess Maria Tomicelli. It had been in her family since the days of early Christianity. At age 45, Joseph Santori was consecrated as a bishop and assigned to the See of Rochester. Upon his retirement at age 75, he returned to St. Clement's, where he spent his remaining years working among the poor and the elderly. Bishop Joseph Santori's reputation for holiness was so widespread that after his death, a petition was signed to ask the Holy See to consider him for beatification, a cause that remains active today.

The diamond definitely would bring a few bucks, Lenny thought as he swung his hatchet. With two hard blows he smashed the hinges of the cabinet. He yanked open the doors and grabbed the chalice. Afraid that he might have triggered a silent alarm, he quickly ran to the side door of the church, unlocked it and pushed it open, anxious now to get out.

As he turned west toward Columbus Avenue, the cold air quickly dried the perspiration that had covered his face and back. Once on the avenue, he knew he could disappear into the crowds of shoppers. But as he passed the rectory, the wall of an approaching police siren shattered the calm.

He could see two couples down the block, headed in the same direction he was going, but he didn't dare to start running to catch up with them. That would be a sure giveaway. Then he spotted the stroller on the rectory steps. In an instant he was carrying it down to the sidewalk. There appeared to be nothing in it but a couple of shopping bags. Shoving his backpack in the foot of the stroller, he walked quickly to catch up with the couples ahead of him. Once he was near them, he strolled sedately just behind.

The police car roared past the group and screeched to a halt in front of the church. At Columbus Avenue, Lenny quickened his steps, no longer worried about detection. On such a chilly night, all pedestrians were hurrying, anxious to reach their destinations. He would just blend in. There was no reason for anyone to pay attention to the average-sized, sharp-faced man in his early thirties, who was wearing a cap and a plain, dark jacket and pushing a cheap, well-worn stroller.

The street phone Sondra had planned to call from was in use. Wildly anxious with impatience and already heartsick about the baby she had abandoned, she tried to decide whether to interrupt the caller, a man wearing the uniform of a security guard. She could explain that it was an emergency.

I can't do that, she thought despairingly. Tomorrow, if there's a story in the newspapers about the baby, he might remember me and talk to the police. Dismayed, she shoved her hands in her pockets, groping for the coins she needed and the paper on which she'd written the phone number of the rectory, unnecessary because she knew it by heart.

It was December 3rd, and already Christmas lights and decorations glittered from the windows of the shops and restaurants along Columbus Avenue. A couple walking hand in hand passed Sondra, their faces radiant as they smiled at each other. The girl appeared to be about eighteen, her own age, Sondra thought, although she felt infinitely older — and infinitely removed from the air of careless joy this couple displayed.

It was getting colder. Was the baby wrapped warmly enough? she worried. For an instant she shut her eyes. O, God, please make this man get off the phone, she prayed, I need to make this call now.

An instant later she heard the click of the receiver being replaced. Sondra waited until the caller was a few paces away before she grabbed the receiver, dropped in the coins and dialed.

"St. Clement's rectory." The voice was that of an elderly man. It had to be the old priest she had seen at Mass.

"Please, may I speak to Monsignor Ferris, right away."

"I'm Father Dailey. Perhaps I can help you. Monsignor is outside with the police. We have an emergency."

Quietly, Sondra broke the connection. They had found the baby already. She was safe now, and Monsignor Ferris would see that she was placed in a good home.

An hour later Sondra was on the bus to Birmingham, Alabama, where she was a student in the music department of the university, a violin student whose astonishing talent had already marked her for future stardom on the concert stage.

It was not until he was in the apartment of his elderly aunt that Lenny heard the faint mewling of the infant.

Startled, he looked into the stroller. He saw the shopping bag begin to move and quickly tore it open; he stared in shock at the tiny occupant. Unbelieving, he unpinned the note from the blanket, read it and mouthed an expletive.

From the bedroom at the end of the narrow hallway, his aunt called: "Is that you, Lenny?" There was no hint of a welcome in the greeting, spoken with a strong accent that betrayed her Italian roots.

"Yes, Aunt Lilly." There was no way he could simply hide the baby. He had to figure out what to do. What should he tell her?

Lilly Maldonado walked down the hall to the living room. At seventy-four, she both looked and moved like someone ten years younger than her age. Her hair, pulled back in a tight bun, was still generously sprinkled with black strands; her brown eyes were large and lively, and her short, ample body moved in quick, sure steps.

Along with Lenny's mother, her younger sister, she had emigrated to the United States from Italy shortly after World War II. A skilled seamstress, she had married a tailor from her native village in Tuscany and worked side by side with him in their tiny Upper West Side shop until his death five years ago. Now she worked out of her apartment, or went to the homes of her devoted clients, whom she charged far too little for dressmaking and alterations.

But as her customers joked among themselves, in exchange for Lilly's low prices, they were forced to lend considerable sympathetic attention to her endless stories about her troublesome nephew Lenny.

On her knees, a heap of pins beside her, her alert eyes carefully measuring as she chalked hem lengths, Lilly would sigh, then launch into her litany of complaints. "My nephew. He's always driving me crazy. Trouble from the day he was born. When he was in school: Don't ask. Arrested. Went away to a prison for kids twice. Did that straighten him out? No. Never can hold a job. Why not? My sister, his mama, God rest her, always was too easy on him. I love him, of course — after all, he's my flesh and blood — but he drives me crazy. How much can I put up with, him coming in at all hours? What's he living on, I ask you?"

But now, after earnest prayer to her beloved St. Francis of Assisi, Lilly Maldonado had made a decision. She had tried everything, and none of it had made a difference. Clearly nothing was going to change Lenny, and so she was going to wash her hands of him once and for all.

The light in the foyer was dim, and she was so intent on delivering her speech that she did not immediately notice the stroller behind him.

Her arms folded, her voice firm, Lilly said, "Lenny, you asked if you could stay a few nights. Well, that was three weeks ago, and I don't want you here anymore. Pack your bags and get out."

Lilly's loud, strident tone startled the already stirring infant, and the faint mewling broke into a wall.

"What?" Lilly exclaimed. Then she saw the stroller. In a quick move, she shoved her nephew aside and looked down into it. Shocked, she snapped, "What have you done now? Where did you get that baby?"

Lenny thought fast. He didn't want to leave this apartment. It was a perfect place to live, and staying with his aunt gave him the aura of respectability. He had read the note from the baby's mother, so he quickly came up with a plan.

"She's mine, Aunt Lilly. A girl I was crazy about is the mother. But she's moving to California and wants to put the baby up for adoption. I don't want to. I want to keep her."

The wall was now a demanding screech. Tiny fists flailed the air.

Lilly opened the bundle at the infant's feet. "The baby's hungry," she announced. "At least your girlfriend sent some formula." She plucked out one of the bottles and thrust it at Lenny. "Here, warm this up."

Her expression changed as she unwrapped the blankets from around the tiny infant, picked her up and cradled her in warm and comforting arms. "Beautiful, bella. How could your mama not want you?" She looked at Lenny. "What do you call her?"

Lenny thought of the star-shaped diamond in the chalice. "Her name is Star, Aunt Lilly."

"Star," Lilly Maldonado murmured as she soothed the sobbing baby. "In Italy we would call her Stellina. That means 'little star.'"

Through narrowed eyes, Lenny watched the bonding between the infant and the aging woman. No one would be looking for the baby, he thought. It wasn't like he had kidnapped it, and anyhow, if anything ever did come up about the kid, he'd have the note to prove she had been abandoned. He knew the word for grandmother in Italian was nonna. As he turned and hurried into the kitchen to warm the bottle, Lenny told himself with satisfaction, "Star, my little girl, I've found me a home — and you've got yourself a nonna."

Copyright © 1998 by Mary Higgins Clark

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter One Prologue

There were twenty-two days to go before Christmas, but Lenny was doing his Christmas shopping early this year. Secure in the knowledge that no one knew he was there, and standing so still and quiet that he hardly could hear himself breathe, he watched from the confessional as Monsignor Ferris went about the rounds of securing the church for the night. With a contemptuous smile, Lenny waited impatiently as the side doors were checked and the lights in the sanctuary extinguished. He shrank back when he saw the monsignor turn to walk down the side aisle, which meant that he would pass directly by the confessional. He cursed silently when a floorboard in the enclosure squeaked. Through a slit in the curtain he could see the clergyman stop and tilt his head, as if listening for another sound.

But then, as if satisfied, Monsignor Ferris resumed his journey to the back of the church. A moment later, the light in the vestibule was extinguished, and a door opened and closed. Lenny allowed himself an audible sigh -- he was alone in St. Clement's church on West 103rd Street in Manhattan.


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 insulator against the cold. Not that the baby would be out in the frigid air for long, of course -- just until Sondra could get to a phone and call the rectory.

She unbuttoned her coat slowly, shifting the baby only as needed, remembering to be especially careful of her head. The faint glow from the streetlight made it possible for her to see her infant's face clearly. "I love you," Sondra whispered fiercely. "And I will always love you." The baby stared up at her, her eyes fully open for the first time. Brown eyes stared into blue eyes, long dark-blond hair brushed against sprigs of the blond hair curling on the little forehead; tiny lips puckered and turned, seeking Mother's breast.

Sondra pressed the baby's head against her neck; her lips lingered on the soft cheek; her hand caressed the infant's back and legs. Then, in a decisive move, she slipped the tiny figure into the shopping bag, reached for the secondhand stroller folded next to her and tucked the handle under one arm.

She waited until several people had walked past her hiding place, then hurried to the curb and looked up and down the street. A block away traffic was stopped at the red light, but she saw no pedestrians coming in either direction.

A solid wall of parked cars on both sides of the street helped to protect Sondra from any curious eyes as she darted across the street to the rectory. There she ran up the three steps to the narrow stoop and opened the stroller. After engaging the brake, she laid the baby snugly under the stroller's hood and laid the bundle of clothes and bottles at her feet. She knelt for a moment and took one last look at her child. "Good-bye," she whispered. Then she stood and quickly ran down the steps and headed toward Columbus Avenue.

She would make the call to the rectory from a street phone two blocks away.


Lenny prided himself on being in and out of a church in less than three minutes. You never know about silent alarms, he thought, as he opened his backpack and pulled out a flashlight. Keeping the narrow beam pointed toward the floor, he quickly began to make his usual rounds. He went to the poor box first. Donations had been down lately, he'd noticed, but this one yielded a better than usual take, somewhere between thirty and forty dollars.

The offering boxes below the votive candles turned out to be the most satisfactory of any of the last ten churches he had hit. There were seven of them, placed at intervals in front of the statues of the saints. Quickly he smashed the locks and grabbed the cash.

In the last month he'd come to Mass here a couple of times to study the layout; he had observed that the priest consecrated the bread and wine in plain goblets, so he didn't bother to break into the tabernacle, since there'd be nothing special there. He was just as glad to avoid doing that anyway. The couple of years he'd spent in parochial school had had an effect on him, he acknowledged, making him queasy about doing certain things. It definitely got in his way when it came to robbing churches.

On the other hand, he had no qualms about leaving with the prize that had brought him here in the first place, the silver chalice with the star-shaped diamond at the base. It had belonged to Joseph Santori, the priest who founded St. Clement's parish one hundred years ago, and it was the one treasure this historic church contained.

A painting of Santori hung above a mahogany cabinet in a recess to the right of the sanctuary. The cabinet was ornate, its grillwork designed to both protect and display the chalice. After one of the masses he had attended, Lenny had drifted over to read the plaque beneath the cabinet.

At his ordination in Rome, Father, later Bishop, Santori was given this cup by Countess Maria Tomicelli. It had been in her family since the days of early Christianity. At age 45, Joseph Santori was consecrated as a bishop and assigned to the See of Rochester. Upon his retirement at age 75, he returned to St. Clement's, where he spent his remaining years working among the poor and the elderly. Bishop Joseph Santori's reputation for holiness was so widespread that after his death, a petition was signed to ask the Holy See to consider him for beatification, a cause that remains active today.

The diamond definitely would bring a few bucks, Lenny thought as he swung his hatchet. With two hard blows he smashed the hinges of the cabinet. He yanked open the doors and grabbed the chalice. Afraid that he might have triggered a silent alarm, he quickly ran to the side door of the church, unlocked it and pushed it open, anxious now to get out.

As he turned west toward Columbus Avenue, the cold air quickly dried the perspiration that had covered his face and back. Once on the avenue, he knew he could disappear into the crowds of shoppers. But as he passed the rectory, the wall of an approaching police siren shattered the calm.

He could see two couples down the block, headed in the same direction he was going, but he didn't dare to start running to catch up with them. That would be a sure giveaway. Then he spotted the stroller on the rectory steps. In an instant he was carrying it down to the sidewalk. There appeared to be nothing in it but a couple of shopping bags. Shoving his backpack in the foot of the stroller, he walked quickly to catch up with the couples ahead of him. Once he was near them, he strolled sedately just behind.

The police car roared past the group and screeched to a halt in front of the church. At Columbus Avenue, Lenny quickened his steps, no longer worried about detection. On such a chilly night, all pedestrians were hurrying, anxious to reach their destinations. He would just blend in. There was no reason for anyone to pay attention to the average-sized, sharp-faced man in his early thirties, who was wearing a cap and a plain, dark jacket and pushing a cheap, well-worn stroller.


The street phone Sondra had planned to call from was in use. Wildly anxious with impatience and already heartsick about the baby she had abandoned, she tried to decide whether to interrupt the caller, a man wearing the uniform of a security guard. She could explain that it was an emergency.

I can't do that, she thought despairingly. Tomorrow, if there's a story in the newspapers about the baby, he might remember me and talk to the police. Dismayed, she shoved her hands in her pockets, groping for the coins she needed and the paper on which she'd written the phone number of the rectory, unnecessary because she knew it by heart.

It was December 3rd, and already Christmas lights and decorations glittered from the windows of the shops and restaurants along Columbus Avenue. A couple walking hand in hand passed Sondra, their faces radiant as they smiled at each other. The girl appeared to be about eighteen, her own age, Sondra thought, although she felt infinitely older -- and infinitely removed from the air of careless joy this couple displayed.

It was getting colder. Was the baby wrapped warmly enough? she worried. For an instant she shut her eyes. O, God, please make this man get off the phone, she prayed, I need to make this call now.

An instant later she heard the click of the receiver being replaced. Sondra waited until the caller was a few paces away before she grabbed the receiver, dropped in the coins and dialed.

"St. Clement's rectory." The voice was that of an elderly man. It had to be the old priest she had seen at Mass.

"Please, may I speak to Monsignor Ferris, right away."

"I'm Father Dailey. Perhaps I can help you. Monsignor is outside with the police. We have an emergency."

Quietly, Sondra broke the connection. They had found the baby already. She was safe now, and Monsignor Ferris would see that she was placed in a good home.

An hour later Sondra was on the bus to Birmingham, Alabama, where she was a student in the music department of the university, a violin student whose astonishing talent had already marked her for future stardom on the concert stage.


It was not until he was in the apartment of his elderly aunt that Lenny heard the faint mewling of the infant.

Startled, he looked into the stroller. He saw the shopping bag begin to move and quickly tore it open; he stared in shock at the tiny occupant. Unbelieving, he unpinned the note from the blanket, read it and mouthed an expletive.

From the bedroom at the end of the narrow hallway, his aunt called: "Is that you, Lenny?" There was no hint of a welcome in the greeting, spoken with a strong accent that betrayed her Italian roots.

"Yes, Aunt Lilly." There was no way he could simply hide the baby. He had to figure out what to do. What should he tell her?

Lilly Maldonado walked down the hall to the living room. At seventy-four, she both looked and moved like someone ten years younger than her age. Her hair, pulled back in a tight bun, was still generously sprinkled with black strands; her brown eyes were large and lively, and her short, ample body moved in quick, sure steps.

Along with Lenny's mother, her younger sister, she had emigrated to the United States from Italy shortly after World War II. A skilled seamstress, she had married a tailor from her native village in Tuscany and worked side by side with him in their tiny Upper West Side shop until his death five years ago. Now she worked out of her apartment, or went to the homes of her devoted clients, whom she charged far too little for dressmaking and alterations.

But as her customers joked among themselves, in exchange for Lilly's low prices, they were forced to lend considerable sympathetic attention to her endless stories about her troublesome nephew Lenny.

On her knees, a heap of pins beside her, her alert eyes carefully measuring as she chalked hem lengths, Lilly would sigh, then launch into her litany of complaints. "My nephew. He's always driving me crazy. Trouble from the day he was born. When he was in school: Don't ask. Arrested. Went away to a prison for kids twice. Did that straighten him out? No. Never can hold a job. Why not? My sister, his mama, God rest her, always was too easy on him. I love him, of course -- after all, he's my flesh and blood -- but he drives me crazy. How much can I put up with, him coming in at all hours? What's he living on, I ask you?"

But now, after earnest prayer to her beloved St. Francis of Assisi, Lilly Maldonado had made a decision. She had tried everything, and none of it had made a difference. Clearly nothing was going to change Lenny, and so she was going to wash her hands of him once and for all.

The light in the foyer was dim, and she was so intent on delivering her speech that she did not immediately notice the stroller behind him.

Her arms folded, her voice firm, Lilly said, "Lenny, you asked if you could stay a few nights. Well, that was three weeks ago, and I don't want you here anymore. Pack your bags and get out."

Lilly's loud, strident tone startled the already stirring infant, and the faint mewling broke into a wall.

"What?" Lilly exclaimed. Then she saw the stroller. In a quick move, she shoved her nephew aside and looked down into it. Shocked, she snapped, "What have you done now? Where did you get that baby?"

Lenny thought fast. He didn't want to leave this apartment. It was a perfect place to live, and staying with his aunt gave him the aura of respectability. He had read the note from the baby's mother, so he quickly came up with a plan.

"She's mine, Aunt Lilly. A girl I was crazy about is the mother. But she's moving to California and wants to put the baby up for adoption. I don't want to. I want to keep her."

The wall was now a demanding screech. Tiny fists flailed the air.

Lilly opened the bundle at the infant's feet. "The baby's hungry," she announced. "At least your girlfriend sent some formula." She plucked out one of the bottles and thrust it at Lenny. "Here, warm this up."

Her expression changed as she unwrapped the blankets from around the tiny infant, picked her up and cradled her in warm and comforting arms. "Beautiful, bella. How could your mama not want you?" She looked at Lenny. "What do you call her?"

Lenny thought of the star-shaped diamond in the chalice. "Her name is Star, Aunt Lilly."

"Star," Lilly Maldonado murmured as she soothed the sobbing baby. "In Italy we would call her Stellina. That means 'little star.'"

Through narrowed eyes, Lenny watched the bonding between the infant and the aging woman. No one would be looking for the baby, he thought. It wasn't like he had kidnapped it, and anyhow, if anything ever did come up about the kid, he'd have the note to prove she had been abandoned. He knew the word for grandmother in Italian was nonna. As he turned and hurried into the kitchen to warm the bottle, Lenny told himself with satisfaction, "Star, my little girl, I've found me a home -- and you've got yourself a nonna."

Copyright © 1998 by Mary Higgins Clark

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Interviews & Essays

Before the live bn.com chat, Mary Higgins Clark agreed to answer some of our questions.

Q:  Does a particular aspect of crime intrigue you?

A:  The elements of coincidence. Life and death can hinge on tiny twists of fate. In All Through the Night, a twist of fate causes an abandoned baby to be kidnapped.

Q:  Your books are worldwide bestsellers. What is the secret of your popularity?

A:  Readers identify with my characters. I write about people going about their daily lives, not looking for trouble, who are suddenly plunged into menacing situations.

Q:  When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?

A:  I knew it as a child. The first thing I wrote was a poem, when I was seven. I still have it. It's pretty bad, but my mother thought it was beautiful and made me recite it for everyone who came in. I am sure the captive audience was ready to shoot me, but that kind of encouragement nurtures a budding talent. From the time I was seven, I also kept diaries. I can read them now and look back at what I was like at different ages. I still keep diaries; they are a great help to my novels. No one has seen them -- they are locked in a trunk.

Q:  You are known as the Queen of Suspense. What do you consider the essence of your talent?

A:  Being a storyteller. Isaac Bashevis Singer, who was a dedicated suspense reader, made a simple but profound observation on receiving the Mystery Writers Award. He said that a writer must think of himself or herself primarily as a storyteller. Every book or story should figuratively begin with the words "once upon a time." It is as true now as it was in the long-ago days of wandering minstrels that when these words are uttered, the room becomes quiet, everyone draws closer to the fire, and the magic begins.

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2001

    Suspense story

    Mary Higgins Clark does a good job of letting her readers know what their emotions are in the book. This book is about a young girl that gets pregnant, and leaves her baby on the steps of a chruch. It also talks about her struggle, and her life all through the book. The vocabulary of the book is very easy to read, and will keep readers wanting more!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    Highly recommended for mystery lovers.

    I used to own a hardcover copy of this book, loaned it out and never got it back. So, I ordered the NOOK version this year. Every Christmas season I like to reread the Mary Higgins Clark Christmas mysteries. They are so much fun and usually I don't remember the outcome or I don't remember the details of how it was solved. When Alvira is involved, it's always a good read. It has been a few years since I read this one and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Wonderful!

    This book was very entertaining. I have read books by this author before and I like her style of writing and her characters. Would recommend it to my friends.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2003

    The Best of the Rest

    I liked this book a lot because it was telling a story that was hard to figure out in the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2002

    Good story and easy to read.

    I enjoyed this book and would recommend it, especially to Catholics, since the church, a priest and nuns play vital roles. This is only the 2nd book of hers I read and liked the other one better 'A Cry in the Night', because you had to figure it out in that one. This one you knew who did it, you were then shown how Willy's wife figured it out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2002

    All Through the Night

    The Story 'All Through the Night' by Mary Higgins Clark has a good story line. Although it wasn't the easiest book I have read to get into it has a good upbeat story to it and is worth reading. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys reading suspense stories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2001

    Wow! Another Outstanding Higgins Clark Book

    All through the night was a beautiful tale in the perfect Christmas setting. A must read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2000

    a reviewer

    This book was especially short and interesting. I couldn't put it down. It was a warm Christmas story that can be shared throughout the year rather than just at the holiday season.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2000

    Great Book

    I think this boook is good, it captures the loving and caring season in a verry special way. This is only one of the many books shes written but i think is one of the best shes done. Mary Higgins has an ability to make you want to keep reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2000

    Outstanding!

    This was an excellant book! It was very well written and a very original plot!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2000

    A Wonderful Christmas Mystery

    I liked May Higgins Clark's All Through The Night. It's very nice to read around Christmas time. The only problem I had with it is that the ending seemed a little rushed like Mary just wanted to get done writing the book fast. But other then that, it's a great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2000

    Short but Sweet!

    I loved the story even though it was kindda predictable. I loved that Ms. Clark lets you see the story from so many diffrent angles. I had a hard time putting it down and I wished it had been a little longer. Like I stated earlier Short but Sweet.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2000

    short and sweet......

    Though not her best work this is one that i couldn't put down... As with all her books, the plot thickens, grabs you and before you know it you are there in the shadows of the scene watching not reading...

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