The Muldoons (Pa, Vera, and Sam), failing vaudevillians, are actually more down-in-the-mouth than ""merry."" With $1.75 saved from their 12-times-daily performances (admission: a dime), they are ill-prepared to take on Brighteyes, an escaped convict with a score to settle with Pa. A bungled burglary, a box of diamonds, and tickets to Cold Spring (they can't afford Poughkeepsie) get them temporarily out of Brighteyes's clutches, but the chasers get more sinister as the chase grows more complicated. Vera, believing the diamonds will give her family a much-needed leg up, will do almost anything to outrun the bad guys; but Sam, the cleareyed chronicler, is glad to see the stash dynamited into the next county. Back where they started, the Muldoons are still not exactly merry but have at least found a measure of contentment in an honestly earned dime. McNamara's first children's book may mock credibility at every turn, but it does show a gift for well-timed slapstick and dense plotting, as well as some understanding of the human foible of greed. Like the Muldoons' audiences, readers may mostly ""sit through it""... but ""even manage a feeble bit of applause at the end.