The Christmas Thief (Regan Reilly Series)

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Mary Higgins Clark, America's Queen of Suspense, and her daughter, bestselling mystery writer Carol Higgins Clark, have again joined forces to create a suspenseful and humorous holiday tale.

The folks who picked a beautiful eighty-foot blue spruce from Stowe, Vermont, to be Rockefeller Center's famous Christmas tree don't have a clue that Packy Noonan, a scam artist just released from prison, hid priceless diamonds in it more than twelve years ago. But when Packy learns ...

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The Christmas Thief (Regan Reilly Series)

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Overview

*
* *
*

Mary Higgins Clark, America's Queen of Suspense, and her daughter, bestselling mystery writer Carol Higgins Clark, have again joined forces to create a suspenseful and humorous holiday tale.

The folks who picked a beautiful eighty-foot blue spruce from Stowe, Vermont, to be Rockefeller Center's famous Christmas tree don't have a clue that Packy Noonan, a scam artist just released from prison, hid priceless diamonds in it more than twelve years ago. But when Packy learns that his special tree will be heading to New York City the next morning, he knows he has to act fast.

What Packy does not know is that Alvirah, everyone's favorite lottery winner turned amateur sleuth, and savvy private investigator Regan Reilly are visiting Stowe with their friend Opal, who lost all her lottery winnings in Packy's scam. And just when they're supposed to head home, they learn that the tree is missing . . . and that Opal has disappeared.

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Editorial Reviews

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. Agent, Evva Pryor at McIntosh & Otis. (Nov. 9) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743271554
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 11/9/2004
  • Series: Regan Reilly Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 7.92 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark’s books are worldwide bestsellers, with more than 100 million copies sold in the U.S. alone. Visit her on the web at MaryHigginsClark.com.

Carol Higgins Clark is the author of fourteen 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.

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

Oh Christmas Tree, My Christmas Tree


By Mary Higgins Clark

Simon & Schuster

Copyright © 2004 Mary Higgins Clark
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0743271556

Chapter 1

Packy Noonan carefully placed an x on the calendar he had pinned to the wall of his cell in the federal prison located near Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. Packy was overflowing with love for his fellow man. He had been a guest of the United States Government for twelve years, four months, and two days. But because he had served over 85 percent of his sentence and been a model prisoner, the parole board had reluctantly granted Packy his freedom as of November 12, which was only two weeks away.

Packy, whose full name was Patrick Coogan Noonan, was a world-class scam artist whose offense had been to cheat trusting investors out of nearly $100 million in the seemingly legitimate company he had founded. When the house of cards collapsed, after deducting the money he had spent on homes, cars, jewelry, bribes, and shady ladies, most of the rest, nearly $80 million, could not be accounted for.

In the years of his incarceration, Packy's story never changed. He insisted that his two missing associates had run off with the rest of the money and that, like his victims, he, too, had been the victim of his own trusting nature.

Fifty years old, narrow-faced, with a hawklike nose, close-set eyes, thinning brown hair, and a smile that inspired trust, Packy had stoically endured his years of confinement. He knew that when the day of deliverance came, his nest egg of $80 million would sufficiently compensate him for his discomfort.

He was ready to assume a new identity once he picked up his loot; a private plane would whisk him to Brazil, and a skillful plastic surgeon there had already been engaged to rearrange the sharp features that might have served as the blueprint for the working of his brain.

All the arrangements had been made by his missing associates, who were now residing in Brazil and had been living on $10 million of the missing funds. The remaining fortune Packy had managed to hide before he was arrested, which was why he knew he could count on the continued cooperation of his cronies.

The long-standing plan was that upon his release Packy would go to the halfway house in New York, as required by the terms of his parole, dutifully follow regulations for about a day, then shake off anyone following him, meet his partners in crime, and drive to Stowe, Vermont. There they were to have rented a farmhouse, a flatbed trailer, a barn to hide it in, and whatever equipment it took to cut down a very large tree.

"Why Vermont?" Giuseppe Como, better known as Jo-Jo, wanted to know. "You told us you hid the loot in New Jersey. Were you lying to us, Packy?"

"Would I lie to you?" Packy had asked, wounded. "Maybe I don't want you talking in your sleep."

Jo-Jo and Benny, forty-two-year-old fraternal twins, had been in on the scam from the beginning, but both humbly acknowledged that neither one of them had the fertile mind needed to concoct grandiose schemes. They recognized their roles as foot soldiers of Packy and willingly accepted the droppings from his table since, after all, they were lucrative droppings.

"O Christmas tree, my Christmas tree," Packy whispered to himself as he contemplated finding the special branch of one particular tree in Vermont and retrieving the flask of priceless diamonds that had been nestling there for over thirteen years.

Copyright © 2004 by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark

Continues...


Excerpted from Oh Christmas Tree, My Christmas Tree by Mary Higgins Clark Copyright © 2004 by Mary Higgins Clark. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 36 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 36 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Good

    The stories just get better and better

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2012

    Eh

    This was an ok book. Maybe because its not my normal genre but I found the character development to be lacking & the plot seemed to progress like Clark was following a set formula, everything was pretty predictable

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  • Posted December 3, 2011

    Doesn't Work for Christmas

    Mary Higgins Clark has long been a favorite author of mine. Her daughter Carol Higgins Clark has been writing with her and alone for quite some time now, but I'm partial to Mary. This book was a joint effort. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

    The main characters have been written about in other books, but in The Christmas Thief, they lacked substance. The attempt to fill the reader in on them and their personalities from past stories was half-hearted at best. The bad guys didn't come off any better, either. I think they were supposed to be bumblers, providing comic relief, but they weren't very funny - just inept.

    Worst of all, this was supposed to be a Christmas book, the main theme is about the tree which was earmarked to become the Rockefeller Center. It didn't feel "Christmassy" at all to me. Just because a book is set at Christmas time doesn't make it a Christmas book. The author must add those bits of Christmas spirit in the writing, and the Higgins Clark ladies failed to do it.

    I'm afraid I can't recommend this one. It's a very quick read, so if you find it at your library and are curious, you can go that route. Otherwise, keep looking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2008

    The Christmas Thief by Mary Higgins Clark.

    Many dramatic turn of events happen. Peter is a nice but sneaky. He is the guy that steals an object. In all of the commotion he ends up with a couple of accomplices. He is one of the smartest thieves around. Sometimes the bad boys are the best. The author really allows you to think about the plot. He does not jump around and he does not do a lot of flash backs. This is one of the many points I liked. The setting is near Colorado, but then goes to New York City. I would recommend this book to any one who has troubling reading. This book was an easy reader. It was also short and to the point. I would rate this book an 8. It was a real page turner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    Light & fun

    This is a fun, fast read. Light, humorous. I don't care for Carol's style of writing, but I love Mary's. This suspenseful story traces a con artist as he is released from prison, catches up with his accomplices, and steals away to Vermont, where he hid a flask full of diamonds in the branches of a spruce tree years ago. Too bad that very tree has been selected as the tree to be displayed in Rockefeller Center, and is about to be cut down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2007

    Lame

    I normally love Clark's books but I had a difficult time even finishing this one. The plot was lame, the characters were very unrealistic, and it was so predictable there was no suspense. Sometimes it seems that long-time authors just churn out new books without much thought, knowing it will sell on their name alone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2007

    gre8t

    this is the 1st MHC book i've read, and i loved it!! a great book with funny characters and storyline.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2006

    A Waste of $8!

    Half way through the book a plot comes out. It combines a Mary book and a Carol book which is where characterization comes in, i didn't read any of them and was so lost. It was a waste of time and ended so lamely. If it's in your heart to read this, rent it from the library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2005

    gr8 book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This was a great book. I loved every chapter and turned each page with suspense and hungry delight. This book left me wanting more, and I should love to add it to my large shelf collection of personal classics. With a captivating plot, wonderful characters and good humor, this book was one that I deeply enjoyed and I am glad to hear that others do, too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2004

    Wonderful book by a great team

    Mary and Carol have done it again. This was a great Christmas mystery. It was fun to read! The characters are well defined and truly hilarious. I reccommend this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2004

    Disappointing!

    I'm a big Mary Higgins Clark fan, however, I found this book very disappointing. The plot was simplistic and unimaginative. The character development was so poor that I found myself thinking the thief seemed more human than the other characters. Save your money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2005

    A little cheesy

    Cute, funny book to read during the holiday season. I just felt that it was a little cheesy and unrealistic. I didn't feel the book had a good flow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2005

    Disappointed buyer

    I bought this unabridged CD version for my daughter for Christmas. I am now listening to it myself. The screeching voices used to portray the characters is rendering this a trial to the ear. I will never buy another book read by Carol Higgins Clark! My daughter nor I are able to finish this assult on the eardrums. I am very disappointed because I always buy the latest 'Christmas novel' MHC has out as a gift.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2004

    Wonderful!

    If you loved Deck The Halls then you must read The Christmas Thief. It makes a great holiday read and a great gift for a mystery fan. It's fun, captivating, and the Packy Noonan character is really just a blast to follow. I highly suggest this one for a cold winter night by a fire.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2004

    They've done it again.

    Another great book by the queen of suspense and her daughter. It was a quick, enjoyable read. A must for the holiday season, or any time at all. Nice to see old friends, Opal and Regan and their families. They always keep me interested. I've always looked forward to Mary's next book and now can't wait for Carol's either.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2004

    BRAVO, They have done it again.

    What a refreshing story, it has it all, warmth, mystery, fun, and old friends. A must read for the season.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A character driven mystery

    Packy Noonan is a natural born con artist who is able to talk people into investing over 100 million in his phony shipping company. He and his two confederates were about to cash out and leave the country when the scam was revealed. His two confederates escaped but Packy was caught and sent to jail. After serving twelve years he is freed and heads to Stowe, Vermont to get the diamonds that are hidden in an eighty foot blue spruce tree belonging to his one time employees Lenny & Viddy. He doesn¿t know that the tree is due to be cut down and taken to Rockefeller Center where it will be seen by millions of people................................... Opal, one of the people who lost money in Packy¿s scam, is also going to Stowe for the weekend, along with Alviah Meshim and her husband, Megan Reilly, her fiancée and her parents. Opal spots Packy¿s cohort Benny and winds up kidnapped. When Packy and company go to cut down the spruce they don¿t realize that Lenny¿s neighbor Wayne already found the diamonds. Packy is determined to get his jewels or die trying while Opal¿s friends search for her before something dreadful happens............................ Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter Carol Higgins Clark have written a holiday mystery that is entertaining and at times funny in a sardonic way. The Clarks put the readers in the holiday spirit with THE CHRISTMAS THIEF, a novel that stars characters from other books written by these talented authors. Readers will feel sorry for Packy who sees his dreams of getting rich slowly evaporate forcing a final Hail Mary.................................... Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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