America’s Queen of Suspense—Mary Higgins Clark—joins forces with her daughter Carol—bestselling author of the Regan Reilly mysteries—in this fast-paced novel set on a special holiday cruise that sets sail from Miami the day after Christmas.
Alvirah Meehan, lottery winner turned amateur sleuth, and private investigator Regan Reilly are guests, along with their spouses, on the “Santa Cruise.” The cruise is a gift from Commodore Randolph Weed to a select group that “has made the world a better place.” His largesse is prompted by the desire to create a buzz about his new cruise ship, the Royal Mermaid, as she sets out on her maiden voyage.
Alvirah, Regan, and her new husband Jack—head of the NYPD Major Case Squad—are joined as guests on the cruise by a mystery fan convention, celebrating “a ghost of honor,” as well as ten men who donated time playing Santa Claus, now hoping for a restful post-season. That tranquility vanishes when two Santa suits disappear from a locked room, a storm develops, and an attempt is made on a passenger’s life. As the Royal Mermaid sails through troubled waters, Alvirah, Regan, and Jack uncover clues that lead them to dangerous criminals not on the original guest list…
At the start of the lighthearted fourth yuletide mystery from the bestselling mother-daughter Clarks (after 2004's The Christmas Thief), Randolph Weed, "self-styled commodore," launches his newly refurbished boat, the Royal Mermaid, from Miami with a "Santa Cruise" to raise money for charity and reward 400 "Do-Gooders of the Year." Meanwhile, Weed's greedy nephew, Eric Manchester, has made a secret $2 million deal with escaped felons Bull's-Eye Tony Pinto and Barron Highbridge to keep them hidden aboard the Royal Mermaid until it reaches Fishbowl Island, where they can make trouble out of federal jurisdiction. Fortunately, there are plenty of Do-Gooders to foil the bad guys, notably the mystery mavens of the Oklahoma Readers and Writers group and sleuthing philanthropist Alvirah Meehan. Full of mystery-lite cheer but lacking in style and substance, this collaboration is never quite buoyant enough to really deck the halls for fans of the Clarks' superior solo efforts.
Ugh, painful to read.
I am surprised this ever went to the printers, some of the dialogue is so unnatural it was difficult to read.