Deck the Halls
For fans of either of the Clarks, this book is a real treat. By using characters that each of the authors already has developed --- Regan Reilly, the intrepid sleuth of Carol's work, and Alvirah Meehan, the lottery winning amateur detective of Mary's --- readers of either Clark come into the story with some background.
The story in a nutshell --- Nora Regan Reilly, Regan's mom and a well-known mystery author, is in the hospital with a badly broken leg. After visiting his wife in the hospital, Luke Reilly (a funeral director) and his female driver are kidnapped by a relative of one of the his recently deceased clients, who is upset that his inheritance has been donated to a philanthropic gardening group. Wonderfully humorous moment here --- his client had come to know the gardeners at a benefit dinner where Luke had been honored, recognized for his contribution to the floral industry. I admit I never thought about a funeral director in quite those terms. I can picture the Clarks laughing as the conjured up this plot line.
Luke Reilly and Alvirah Meehan's husband both use the same dentist in New Jersey, which is where Alvirah and Regan meet us --- Alvirah is accompanying her husband home from an appointment to get a nasty infection taken care of, while Regan is hoping to track down her father, who is missing. From there the story is a romp filled with mystery, intrigue, and a smattering of romance. And yes, there are the inevitable phrases from songs that make these stories even more clever!
At the start of the book, each author's writing style is distinctive. They each trade chapters to introduce characters, and I saw a definite change in voice and structure as I turned the page from one chapter to the next. As the story progressed, the voices blended and so did their styles, as the focus turned to the characters and the action. There are references to each other's books throughout this one, but they are not intrusive. I am an ardent fan of Mary's books, but I had never read any of Carol's. After closing this one, I added her backlist to my reading list.
I could visualize the Clarks working together, feeding their ideas and working through the storyline. The opening line in the acknowledgments tackles the question readers will ask: "Was it hard to work together?" The authors say, "The answer is 'No.' It was fun. By the time we got to the closing pages, we were so in tandem that if we were searching for a descriptive word, we often would come out with the same one in the same breath."
This book is the perfect gift for a mom or daughter who enjoy light, fun reading, or for you to treat yourself to a wonderful escape from holiday chores.
Reviewed by Carol Fitzgerald on October 23, 2000