All Through the Night

broken Christmas ornament
Broken ornament for a heartbroken mother.

Like her 1995 bestseller Silent Night, Mary Higgins Clark’s All Through the Night is a mystery for the Christmas season. Both novels feature a child in a pivotal role, since threats to children are deemed particularly ugly in December.

All Through the Night opens on a cold December night as a young woman leaves her newborn baby in a secondhand stroller on St. Clement’s rectory steps just as a man inside empties the offering boxes and grabs a precious chalice, setting off the alarm system.

Seven years later, the woman, who has always regretted abandoning her infant, comes to play a concert in Carnegie Hall just as the thief, who grabbed what he thought was an empty stroller to deflect suspicion, makes plans to take “his” daughter to provide cover for his lucrative drug delivery business.

Meanwhile, amateur sleuth Alvirah Meehan and husband, Willy, are trying to prevent an after-school program for poor kids from being closed and to keep their Kate Durbin from losing her home because of what they believe to be a fraudulent will.

There’s little story and less suspense in this novel, but it has snow and lights and a happy ending, which may be enough for Christmas.

All Through the Night: A Suspense Story
by Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster. ©1998. 170 p.
1999 bestseller #10; my grade: C

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

The Daughter of Anderson Crow told in illustrations

If you want to know why The Daughter of Anderson Crow was a bestseller, look at B. Martin Justice’s illustrations.

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If you want to know what’s wrong with the novel, look at Justice’s illustrations.


The Daughter of Anderson Crow by George Barr McCutcheon
B. Martin Justice, illus. Dodd, Mead 1907. 1907 bestseller #3. Project Gutenberg ebook #14818. My Grade: B-.

George Barr McCutcheon’s starts out writing a funny novel about Anderson Crow, Tinkletown marshal, fire chief, and street commissioner who is just smart enough to not let Tinkletown see how dumb he is.

That first part of the novel is illustrated with cartoonish line drawings as funny as McCutcheon’s text.

The second part of the story is about Rosalie Gray, who the Crows raised like a daughter after finding her in a basket on their doorstep one winter night.

Her parentage was a mystery that even self-proclaimed super-sleuth Anderson Crow couldn’t solve.

A note in the basket said the Crows would receive $1000 a year to raise the child.

No one around Tinkletown had that kind of money.

The illustrations for Rosalie’s life as a young woman are lush scenes, suited to the Gothic romance style McCutcheon adopts whenever he focuses on her.

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Eventually McCutcheon gets Rosalie suitably married, and turns his attention back to Anderson Crow long enough to give readers one final laugh before the novel ends.

© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Don’t Bother Taking The Founding Home

Francis Cardinal Spellman has a remarkable memory for plots: He’s woven every one he ever read into The Foundling.

Peter Taggart, a wounded World War I vet, finds a baby in a Catholic cathedral at Christmas.  Paul and his wife want to adopt Peter, but the church won’t allow the baby to go to a Protestant home.

Peter grows up in an orphanage where he learns to farm and play the organ. His music teacher leaves him her unfinished symphony to complete.

When a respected critic calls Peter’s composition “puerile,” Peter is crushed. Fortunately, war is starting in Europe again, which gives Peter something to do.

He comes home blind, but his girl is waiting for him and he’s ready to finish the fourth movement of the symphony.

That synopsis doesn’t do The Foundling justice. The plot is really far more silly  than it sounds.

I suspect the reason The Foundling became a bestseller was that the good cleric gave the book rights to the New York Foundling Hospital, a fact touted on the book jacket and frontpiece.

Charitable folks in 1951 may have bought the book to help poor little orphans. Today, however,  even poor, little orphans couldn’t find any value in The Foundling.

The Foundling
By Francis Cardinal Spellman
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951
304 pages
1951 bestseller # 9
My Grade: C-

© 2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni