Title: Deck the Halls
Authors: Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark
Obtained: borrowed from library
Simon & Schuster
Read for: Queen of Suspense Challenge
Blurb (from dust jacket)
Three days before Christmas, Regan Reilly, the dynamic young sleuth featured in the novels of Carol Higgins Clark, meets Alvirah Meehan, the famous lottery winner and amateur detective who has appeared in several previous books by Mary Higgins Clark, when they both arrive at a New Jersey dentist’s office. Alvirah is to accompany her husband home after a particularly grueling session, while Regan is there in hopes of connecting with her busy father, who is scheduled for a routine visit.
Once it becomes apparent that Luke Reilly is not going to keep his appointment, Alvirah offers the deeply troubled Regan a lift home. When a call comes through on Regan’s cell phone, telling her that her father and his driver, Rosita Gonzalez, are being held for $1,000,000 ransom, Alvirah insists that Regan allow her to lend a hand in trying to gain their release, for while Regan may be a licensed private detective, based in Los Angeles, Alvirah has many valuable contacts among the ranks of New York’s law enforcement community.
Further complicating the situation is the fact that Regan’s mother, the popular and very successful mystery writer Nora Regan Reilly, was hospitalized only the day before with a badly broken leg, and Regan must comfort her while trying to meet the harsh demands of her father’s kidnappers–and their tough deadline.
With Alvirah’s help, Jack Reilly, head of the NYPD Major Case Squad, is called back from his Christmas holiday to lead the investigation, which becomes more and more tricky as the kidnappers, two men who are not just rank amateurs but also laughably inept–and, therefore, all the more dangerous and unpredictable–make known their demands.
Meanwhile, Luke and Rosita, held captive in a decrepit houseboat moored in the Hudson River, become increasingly concerned not only for their welfare, but for that of their loved ones as well. Luke’s wife is in the hospital, and Rosita’s two small boys are with a young, unreliable babysitter, while a winter storm gathers force, further endangering them and complicating events.
The cover is simple, a bow in gold ribbon and a sprig of holly and berries, and it’s a nice touch for a story centered around the holiday season.
This short novel is very fast-paced. At only 202 pages, this book offers as much characterization as possible while still moving the plot forward. Fans of both Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark will probably like the combination of two of their characters.
I had not read many Mary Higgins Clark novels previously, but Alvirah comes across as a lovable do-it-yourselfer who specializes in mysteries. Carol Higgins Clark’s character, Regan, is a smart detective, and I was glad to see that not only was she tough enough to handle herself in harsh situations, she is not so tough that she is void of emotion.
The short novel is also a nice change of pace from the who-dun-it mysteries. We know who has kidnapped Regan’s father and his driver from the beginning, and it was fun watching the other characters try to find them.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Its quick pace and few pages make it a very fast read, and I recommend anyone looking for a quick mystery to pick this one up.