Bourke's Bookshelf: A quirky Christmas kidnapping

This month's featured holiday read is "Deck the Halls," a collaboration between mother-daughter writers Mary and Carol Higgins Clark.

"Deck the Halls"
This week's holiday feature is "Deck the Halls" by Mary and Carol Higgins Clark.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch
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Fans of the mystery and suspense genres have likely heard of famed mother-daughter writers Mary and Carol Higgins Clark.

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They’ve written dozens of books between the two of them over the past 50 years, with Mary’s latest work published in November 2020, months after she died earlier that year.

The duo teamed up four times in their careers for collaborations that brought main characters from each other’s books together. The first work featuring Mary’s amateur sleuth Alvirah Meehan and Carol’s private investigator Regan Reilly working to solve the same case came in the 2000 novel “Deck the Halls.”

‘Deck the Halls’ by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark

When Regan’s father, prominent funeral home owner Luke Reilly, goes missing just days before Christmas, she must get to the bottom of his disappearance while also reassuring her mother, who’s laid up in the hospital with a broken leg.

With the family’s plans to spend the holiday in Hawaii already shot, Regan and mystery writer mother Nora put their heads together to salvage what bit of Christmas they can.


One of Luke’s employees, single mother Rosita, has the unfortunate misfortune of being the driver during her boss’ kidnapping, finding herself in the same frightening predicament.

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More suspense than mystery, the book flips between the family and law enforcement scrambling to come up with ransom money and figure out where their loved ones are being held captive and the buffoonish kidnappers discussing and carrying out their get-rich-quick scheme. It’s no mystery to the readers who the criminals behind the kidnapping are, so the suspense comes in waiting with bated breath to see if the hostages can be found before the houseboat where they’re being held captive sinks into the icy abyss and those responsible are on a plane with their newfound riches.

I think this book is a good one for those who aren’t necessarily interested in a stereotypical feel-good, Hallmark-esque Christmas story. The holiday serves as more of the backdrop, while the thrilling kidnapping storyline takes center stage and is sure to keep readers engaged in anticipation of the outcome.

THERESA BOURKE may be reac
hed at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Related Topics: BOOKS
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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