Picks and Pans Review: Decked
by Carol Higgins Clark
Clark, daughter of best-selling novelist Mary Higgins Clark, has borrowed conspicuously, if not heavily, from life for her own mystery debut. Her sleuth, Regan Reilly, is also the daughter of a famous mystery writer.
Attending a 10-year reunion of her Junior Year Abroad program at St. Polycarp's Academy in Oxford, private eye Regan is questioned by police when the body of her long-ago roommate, a rich Greek girl who everyone thought had run away, turns up in the nearby woods. Regan cannot escape Athena's ghost even on the luxury liner that soon returns her to America.
Clark has a lot of fun on the Queen Guinevere, where her spoiled, smart-aleck heroine casts wary, critical eyes on the odd lot of elderly vacationers. Coincidentally, Regan's parents are on board, with mother Nora Regan Reilly, a woman who "could never keep track of what age she had told interviewers she was," trying to dodge Lady Exner, who has long held hopes of hiring Nora to write her memoirs.
But there are more ominous deceptions at work as Regan glides through the ship's social calendar, piecing together her dead roommate's past.
Blending her mother's flair for balancing numerous plot lines with her own quirkier view of the world, Clark has produced a sharp and satisfying mystery. Decked also introduces a character who, if she outgrows her penchant for occasionally sophomoric sarcasm, can easily carry a dozen more books. (Warner, $17.95)
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