At age eighty-two and in failing health, Olivia Morrow knows she has little time left. The last of her line, she faces a momentous choice: expose a long-held family secret, or take it with her to her grave.
Olivia has in her possession letters from her deceased cousin Catherine, a nun, now being considered for beatification by the Catholic Church–the final step before sainthood. In her lifetime, Sister Catherine had founded seven hospitals for disabled children. Now the cure of a four-year-old boy dying of brain cancer is being attributed to her. After his case was pronounced medically hopeless, the boy’s desperate mother had organized a prayer crusade to Sister Catherine, leading to his miraculous recovery.
The letters Olivia holds are the evidence that Catherine gave birth at age seventeen to a child, a son, and gave him up for adoption. Olivia knows the identity of the young man who fathered Catherine’s child: Alex Gannon, who went on to become a world-famous doctor, scientist, and inventor holding medical patents.
Now, two generations later, thirty-one-year-old pediatrician Dr. Monica Farrell, Catherine’s granddaughter, stands as the rightful heir to what remains of the family fortune. But in telling Monica who she really is, Olivia would have to betray Catherine’s wishes and reveal the story behind Monica’s ancestry. The Gannon fortune is being squandered by Alex’s nephews Greg and Peter Gannon, and other board members of the Gannon Foundation, who camouflage their profligate lifestyles with philanthropy.
Now their carefully constructed image is cracking. Greg, a prominent financier, is under criminal investigation, and Peter, a Broadway producer, is a suspect in the murder of a young woman who has been extorting money from him.
The only people aware of Olivia’s impending choice are those exploiting the Gannon inheritance. To silence Olivia and prevent Monica from learning the secret, some of them will stop at nothing–even murder.
There is a huge following for Mary Higgins Clark, but this is the first time I picked up one of her novels at the library. Out of the massive selection (took up half of the case!), I grabbed The Shadow of Your Smile because, duh duh dum, I liked the cover. Sometimes this strategy works amazingly well for me; at other times, like this one, it failed.
I’ve been on the hunt for another J.D. Robb/In Death mystery series to read as I’ve devoured the entire series and have to keep myself from rereading. My hope was that Clark would be my next favorite mystery writer, but the lack of plot really stood out in The Shadow of Your Smile. The ideas were there, but there was no connective thread to keep me interested. It was a struggle to pick this book up again to read it; I would actually find other things to do instead of reading this book (I got to season five of The Office!). The plot itself had too many moving parts that didn’t share the overall plot’s goal; to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the point of this book was…
Out of all the characters, I enjoyed Monica the most, but she was the only highlight. There were so many other personalities jam-packed into this book that it was difficult to keep them straight. I didn’t understand half of the motivations, and the constant variation in narration (first Monica’s, then the assassin’s, followed by Olivia and her doctor) was just too much to keep track of. Eventually it became frustrating, irritating, and finally descended into the worst realm: I didn’t care.
I read to page 160 and threw in the towel. The characters would have been interesting if there weren’t so many scrambling for the reader’s attention. The plot needed to be more defined; I can only go so far on the premise of a secret. The lack of foresight and thought that went into The Shadow of Your Smile made my first experience with Mary Higgins Clark a bust.
– poorly constructed plot
– honestly, too many characters
– too many minor plots to keep track of
– I couldn’t get past the halfway point