Monday, May 17, 2010

The Shadow of Her Smile by Mary Higgins Clark

If it is April, it must be that Mary Higgins Clark has a new book. The latest from the popular mystery writer is The Shadow of Her Smile. As is usually the case, the novel concerns itself with a larger issue than the murder mystery. In this book, beatification of a former nun serves as the background for the story.

Olivia Morrow, an octogenarian, has been told that she has very little time left to live by her doctor. She is in possession of papers that contain a family secret about her cousin, Catherine, a nun, who because of her ability to heal those suffering from a terminal disease, is in the final stages of the beatification process. While in her teens Catherine gave birth in Ireland to a boy who was given up for adoption. Olivia is conflicted as to whether to divulge the secret or take it to the grave with her.

Monica Farrell is a pediatrician at a small hospital in New York who has treated a small boy with brain cancer who was miraculously cured. She is also very active in trying to secure a grant for her hospital from the Gannon foundation so that the pediatric unit could be expanded and become state of the art. As the novel begins Dr. Farrell is treating a Sally, a toddler for asthma and pneumonia. Sally's mother, Reneé Carter, is mysteriously absent and is being cared for by a nanny. Monica is also celebrating the miraculous remission of Carlos Garcia's leukemia.

As is typical of Mary Higgins Clark's books, the numerous characters - Monica, Olivia, Dr. Clayton Hadley, Alex Gannon, Greg Gannon, Reneé Carter, Tony Garcia, and Ryan Jenner are all interconnected. Tony Garcia drives Olivia Morrow to the cemetery where Catherine is buried and proves to be the fulcrum on which the novel hinges.

There are the perfunctory murders, blackmail, and stalking. This is not one of MHC's best efforts. It was fairly easy to solve and not much of a thriller. It did keep my interest and was a good light read after Suite Français. The topic of beatification and medical miracles was an interesting subplot and one that provokes some extended attention. I will await next April's publication with the hope that Clark can regain the skill with which she used to write the involved and complicated novel.

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