Lottery Winner

Mary Higgins Clark, Author Simon & Schuster $22 (272p) ISBN 978-0-671-86716-4
Alvirah Meehan, a former cleaning woman who won millions in the New York lottery, first appeared in Weep No More, My Lady. She has an apartment on Central Park South and uses her exceptional sleuthing instincts to solve crimes. Each of the six stories here is a Higgins Clark novel in miniature, though the compression highlights her faults rather than her virtues. The tales are all, of course, swift-moving and skillfully plotted, and they press a number of familiar emotional buttons on such eternal matters as money and danger to children. Depending, to an incredible degree, on coincidence and on Alvirah's superhuman ability to be in the right place at the right moment, they are strangely old-fashioned, as if they had originally been written for, say, the Saturday Evening Post in the 1950s, where Alvirah would have fitted perfectly, like Tugboat Annie or other series heroines of the era. There is no doubt that the author's army of fans finds her stories' very coziness and predictability enormously reassuring. The really odd thing about this collection, though, is that, apart from a bungling gang who kidnap Alvirah's faithful husband, ex-plumber Willie, the villains in all the stories turn out to be women. A trend? Literary Guild main selection; 500,000 first printing.(Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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