It's up, up, and away with sleuth Regan Reilly -- in a lively new caper from beloved New York Times bestselling author Carol Higgins Clark.
L.A.-based private detective Regan Reilly flies to Las Vegas -- the mythic city of cash and flash, glamour and kitsch -- to help an old school chum, Danny Madley. Danny is producing the pilot of a reality TV show, Love Above Sea Level. The show features three couples who all have experienced the proverbial Seven Year Itch and are now vying for the chance to renew their wedding vows and win one million dollars. But someone is trying to sabotage the show before Danny can shoot the final scene at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Danny's show is in competition with the sitcom Take Me Higher for a coveted permanent slot on Hot Air Cable, also known as the Balloon Channel. Both shows involve hot air ballooning, and both have casts of characters who are more than capable of disrupting production of Love Above Sea Level. Regan's job is to find out who is making trouble and why.
Is the culprit one of the contestants on Love Above Sea Level? Could it be the advice columnists Danny has hired -- Aunt Agony and Uncle Heartburn -- who are there to help rekindle the sparks between the husbands and wives? Is it Danny's right-hand man, Victor, a local Vegas boy Danny met while gambling? Or his cameraman Sam, who would much rather be surfing than working? Is it Bubbles Ferndale, producer of the sitcom, who is desperate to make her show the one that wins the competition? Is it Danny's ex-girlfriend, the Vegas showgirl Honey? Or her friend Lucille, a dealer in one of the casinos? Could local entrepreneur Roscoe Parker, the owner of the Balloon Channel and mastermind behind the TV competitions, be the source of all Danny's problems? There is no shortage of suspects and no shortage of mishaps.
From their base in the Fuzzy Dice Hotel, a decidedly third-rate establishment, Regan tries to help Danny keep his production on an even keel. Danny's well-meaning, meddlesome parents complicate matters. Jealousy among the Love Above Sea Level contestants escalates. Mysterious, inexplicable events keep occurring. Regan is determined to keep Danny's show on schedule, and she'll do whatever it takes -- on land and in the air!
Popped is a funny, fast-paced jaunt that takes readers from the fancy Vegas casinos to the run-down hotels off the Strip, from the grounds of the hot air balloon fields up into the heavens as the balloons fly over the arid Southwest.
Popped is written with Clark's expert light touch and filled with the richly drawn, quirky characters so relished by her fans. As Nelson DeMille says, "Clark keeps her readers entranced and entertained from cover to cover."
Set in Las Vegas, Clark's seventh Regan Reilly mystery (after 2002's Jinxed) takes aim at all sorts of eminently spoofable targets, including reality TV shows, advice columnists and screen actors. Regan answers a plea from a grade school chum who's involved in a contest where someone isn't playing by the rules. The owner of the Balloon Channel (aka Hot Air Cable) is sponsoring a contest between two groups one developing a pilot for a sitcom, the other for a reality TV show. Both, according to the whimsical rules of magnate Roscoe Parker, must have a ballooning theme. The winning group gets its show on the air and a $1 million prize. Regan's friend Danny Madley is trying to put together the reality show, with a couple of assistants, six contestants and a couple of advice columnists. Then there's the cast of the sitcom and its producer, as well as Roscoe, his girlfriend and his assistants. Even Danny's parents show up to meddle or help, as does Danny's ex-girlfriend. The wealth of eccentric characters would be at home in a Dickens novel, but is too much for this slender volume to support. While Regan attempts to figure out who's doing what to whom, Roscoe continues to add obstacles to make the competition more exciting. It all adds up to zany, if not particularly brilliant, fun in the desert, with an ending series fans will love. FYI:With her mother, Mary Higgins Clark, Clark is the coauthor of He Sees You When You're Sleeping and Deck the Halls.