Culminating the holiday season of crime for TNT Mystery Movie Night—though new bestsellers’ books have been picked up for next year already—is Deck the Halls, based upon Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark’s first co-authored Christmas mystery.
This story brings together two of their series characters, Alvirah Meegan (Kathy Najimy), who’s a former cleaning lady turned lottery winner turned private eye, and Detective Regan Reilly (Scottie Thompson), the respective creations of the mother and daughter novelists.
Naturally, everyone at the TNT Mystery Movie Night panel wanted to know how well this joint-writing thing actually works. Carol Higgins Clark, who was present, was happy to answer. Her replies might seem not only surprising, but even a little eerie.
A fun aspect of the panel discussion was having authors comment on each other, and hearing Carol Higgins Clark discussing her harmonious writing relationship with her mom led Scott Turow to comment, “…I always thought that the happiest people I knew were the people who wanted to work with their parents. Not something that, frankly, ever seemed imaginable to me. I think it’s spectacular.”
But this book, as holds true for their holiday series in general, is about family and the relationships which turn strangers into new family. And it’s also a love letter to reading, as inspirations and memories from various stories propel the plot and help solve the crime.
In the novel, bestselling novelist and New Yorker Nora Regan Reilly (Jane Alexander) is recovering from a fall when her funeral-home proprietor husband, Luke (David Selby), and his driver, Rosita (Luciana Carro), inexplicably disappear.
These two disappearances lead Alvirah Meegan (her husband Willie’s played by the wonderful Larry Miller) and Regan into collision with each others’ investigations, and further complications are introduced in trying to tell the kidnappers and extortionists apart from Nora’s fans. Add in an oddball store Santa, Rosita’s small children, cute cops in both New Jersey and New York, chases across and even into the Hudson River, and you’ve got a confusing whirl of red-and-green flocked mayhem for the lovers of lighter-side mysteries. In fact, if you watch the sneak peek below, you’ll even get to see Carol Higgins Clark put in a cameo appearance behind the bar (as twins!) when she’s questioned by Regan Reilly.
In case you’ve read the novel, this locale is not the TV version of Elsie’s Hideaway.(We asked the author.)But of course, how could it be? It doesn’t even look sticky.
Production pictures also show actor Eric Johnson (from series Flash Gordon and Rookie Blue) playing Jack, but I found another listing where he’s not credited, so I hope he didn’t hit the cutting room floor. We’ll let Carol Higgins Clark explain who he is to Regan, and further, how almost eerily telepathic she and her mother are when writing.
Of course, and you won’t be at all surprised by this, this isn’t the kind of crime story to leave you with an ambiguous ending or on a downer. It’s about enjoying the ride, having some laughs, and finding yourself safe and sound and contented at the end, home for the holidays.
Neither Eric Johnson nor Larry Miller showed up in the IMDb.com cast list for the movie — I just submitted an update