The Royal Mermaid is setting forth on her maiden voyage,
filled with 400 passengers who received free passage due to good
works they performed during the preceding months of the year.
Sounds like a cruise made in heaven, right? Perhaps, but then again
perhaps not. Not when there's a mystery afoot.
Private detective Regan Reilly and her husband Jack, head of the
Major Case Squad of New York City, along with Regan's parents ---
Nora, a respected mystery writer, and Luke Reilly --- have all
joined recent lottery winner and amateur sleuth Alvirah Meehan and
her husband Willy as guests on the cruise as a result of Alvirah's
Even before the officially christened "Santa Cruise" can commence,
however, things have gone awry. There's been a mix-up on the guest
list, and it seems that the ship is a room short of being able to
accommodate all of the guests. Cabin assignments are juggled,
though, and soon enough everyone is settled satisfactorily in their
rooms. Everyone, that is, except for two stowaways.
Tony "Bull's-Eye" Pinto, a crime boss, and Barron Highbridge, a
white-collar criminal who bilked the unsuspecting out of a fortune,
are both using the Santa Cruise as their means to flee the country
and therefore avoid punishment for their crimes. When their room is
suddenly given to Alvirah and Willy, things take a turn for the
Part of what makes the Santa Cruise merry is the 10 Santas who are
to dress in costume and mingle with the guests, but even the
Clauses aren't feeling the holiday spirit. Especially when two of
the costumes go missing and no one knows where they went or what it
Along with the usual activities available on a cruise, there is to
be a special memorial service for the deceased mother of Commodore
Randolph Weed, the owner of the ship. He intends to dispose of his
mother's ashes at sea, but even that doesn't go quite as planned.
Bad publicity and scandal cast serious doubt as to whether or not
the Commodore made a wise investment in purchasing and refurbishing
the ancient ship known as the Royal Mermaid.
In their fourth holiday mystery, Mary Higgins Clark and her
daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, have written a fun book with an
interesting cast of characters. The other "do-gooders of the year"
are a unique and special bunch who lightens the novel's serious
mood. As may be expected, the mystery is solved by the end of the
book in a climactic way, and all of the charming characters play a
part in it. This is a fast read, and you won't want to put it down
until you know whodunit!
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on January 23, 2011