cover image My Gal Sunday

My Gal Sunday

Mary Higgins Clark. Simon & Schuster, $23 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-684-83229-6

An appealing husband-and-wife sleuthing team are the stars of the four stories in Clark's new collection. Her protagonists are Henry Parker Britland IV, the 44-year-old former president of the U.S., and his recent bride, plucky congresswoman Sandra (""Sunday'') O'Brien Britland. Debonair, wealthy Henry and smart-as-a-whip Sunday enjoy their estates in New Jersey, Florida, the Bahamas and Provence, and other perks of Henry's patrician background, such as a private jet and an elegant yacht. But they keep getting embroiled in dicey situations. The best entry, ""They All Ran After the President's Wife,'' features two genuinely eccentric and creepy evildoers and a kidnapped Sunday in peril. Although nicely set up and suspenseful, it suffers from a rushed denouement. A pleasant diversion, ""Hail, Columbia,'' takes place aboard the Britlands' yacht, from which the prime minister of Costa Barria had disappeared 32 years earlier after having given the then 12-year-old Henry an envelope, which has also vanished--until clever Sunday finds the missing link. A kidnapper from the wrong side of the tracks who improbably speaks fluent French is the drawback to credibility in ""Merry Christmas/Joyeux Noel,'' and the lead entry, ""A Crime of Passion,'' is a clunky no-brainer. But Clark uses every occasion to celebrate her gorgeous newlyweds' delirious happiness and misses no opportunity to cater to those readers who favor a little romance with their mild suspense. 800,000 first printing; Literary Guild main selection. (Oct.)