[Book Review] Silent Night by Mary Higgins Clark


When Catherine Dornan's husband, Tom, is diagnosed with leukemia, she and their two young sons travel with him to New York during the holiday season for a lifesaving operation. On Christmas Eve, hoping to lift the boys' spirits, Catherine takes them to see Rockefeller Center's famous Christmas tree, where seven-year-old Brian notices a woman taking her mother's wallet. A St. Christopher medal tucked inside the wallet saved his grandfather's life in World War II, and Brian beleives with all his heart that it will protect his father now. Impulsively, Brian follows the thief into the subway, and the most dangerous adventure of his young life begins...

For a suspense novel, Silent Night was surprisingly boring. Right from the beginning, it's obvious that the characters are in no real danger, as the "endangered" little boy, Brian, is a definite Thing That Is Good and is of course at no risk of being killed off in a Christmas novel that has faith and parent/child love as its main themes. And since neither of these themes particularly resonate with me--I find the first quite irksome, as a matter of fact--the story had very little emotional impact on me.

It also didn't help that the plot had several almost hilariously contrived moments of attempting to raise the (completely nonexistent) stakes. Characters did and said things that no reasonable, able-minded human would ever do under the circumstances; in the most jarring example, a news reporter broadcasts a report that all but ensures that the kidnapped young child will be murdered by his captor.

Seriously? Even if someone was so desperate to push his/her career forward that they wouldn't care about the life of a child, surely they would understand the legal repercussions they might face if their actions resulted in the child's death? The industry blacklisting they would face? The potential lawsuits? The sheer wrath of the police, the victim's family, and the public at large? Perhaps it's just a case of Reality is Unrealistic, but the whole situation just struck me as so far-fetched and stupid--I mean, isn't there some kind of approval process he has to go through with his boss(es) before he gets to say whatever the hell he wants on camera? So how did that story make it to air in the first place? Everyone at that station's an idiot?--that it marked the point at which I truly stopped caring about the story.

I don't particularly recommend Silent Night as a holiday read--especially not as a secular Christmas story--but I suppose it might be an emotional book for anyone with whom the themes of child abduction and/or cancer resonate.

As for me, I can't say it's propelled me to read more of Clark's work. I assume I will eventually, but so far, I am definitely not impressed.

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