Topping her bestselling success with Alvirah and Willy, in The Lottery Winner, America's Queen of Suspense introduces a new sleuthing couple, Henry and Sunday, an ex-president and his young congresswoman bride.
Henry Parker Britland IV is wealthy and worldly -- a beloved former president who, still youthful, is enjoying early retirement. His new wife, Sunday, is beautiful, smart and seventeen years younger than he, and has just been elected to Congress in a stunning upset victory that has made her the darling of the media.
Henry and Sunday make a formidable team of sleuths -- and never more so than when they set out to solve crimes occurring among their friends in political high society.
When Henry's former secretary of state is indicted for the murder of his mistress, Henry and Sunday suspect he is taking the fall for a crime of passion he did not commit. But why?
With cases ranging from a crime on the presidential yacht to a kidnapping that brings Henry back to the White House as he races against time to unravel the plot, there is never a dull moment for the ex-president and his bride -- or the reader.
With her wit and gift for characterization, the creator of the popular Alvirah and Willy stories brings us another marvelously endearing sleuthing duo, destined to return again and again.
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.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Simon & Schuster
January 31, 2003
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Excerpt from My Gal Sunday by Mary Higgins Clark
From Chapter 1
"Heap on more wood! -- the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We'll keep our Christmas merry still."
Congresswoman Sandra O'Brien Britland looked up to see her poetry-spouting husband, the former president of the United States, standing in the doorway of her cozy office in Drumdoe, their country home in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
She smiled affectionately. Even in a turtleneck sweater, jeans, and worn ankle boots, Henry Parker Britland IV exuded a natural born-to-the-manner persona. The touches of gray in his dark brown hair, and thoughtful creases in his forehead, were almost the only signs that Henry was approaching his forty-fifth birthday.
"So it's Tennyson we're quoting," she said as she uncurled herself from the couch where she had been reading the seemingly endless stack of material about pending legislation. "I gather the 'All-Around Hunk' is up to something."
"Not Tennyson, love. Sir Walter Scott, and be aware I will hang you by the thumbs if you call me 'All-Around Hunk' again."
"But People magazine just voted you that for the fifth year in a row. That's a real record. Pretty soon they'll have to create a 'Perennial Hunk' award and retire you from active consideration."
Seeing the mock-menacing look on Henry's face, Sunday said hastily, "Okay, okay. Just kidding."
"Your saw, Mr. President." Sims, the butler, appeared in the doorway, carrying a shiny new saw across upturned palms. He displayed it to Henry with the same reverence he might have shown in tendering the crown jewels.
"What in heaven's name is that all about?" Sunday exclaimed.
"What do you think, darling?" Henry inquired as he studied it carefully. "Well done, Sims. I think this should handle the job quite adequately."
"Are you planning to saw me in half?" Sunday asked.
"Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth had quite a successful act staging that scene. No, my sweet love, you and I are going into the woods. This morning when I was riding I spotted a magnificent evergreen that will be perfect for our first Christmas tree. It's at the north end of the property, out past the lake."
"You're going to cut it down yourself?" Sunday protested. "Henry, you're taking this 'all-around' business too seriously..."
Henry held up his free hand. "No arguments. I heard you say several weeks ago that one of your happiest memories was going out with your father to buy the Christmas tree, then helping him carry it home and trim it. This year, you and I are starting our own tradition."
Sunday tucked a runaway lock of blond hair behind her ear. "You're serious, aren't you?"
"Absolutely. We're going to tramp through the snow into our woods. I am going to cut down the tree, and together we're going to drag it back here."
Henry beamed in satisfaction at his plan. "Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. If we get the tree in and up today, we can start trimming it this evening and finish tomorrow. Sims will bring out the boxes from the storeroom, and you can select any ornaments you choose."
"We have quite a selection, madam," Sims volunteered. "Just last year Lanning decorators came as usual and did the blue-and-silver effect. Quite beautiful. The year before we had a white Christmas. Ah, yes, it was much admired."
"Lanning must be having a heart attack that you're not having him in this year," Sunday observed as she put the files and notepad aside and stood up. She walked over to Henry and put her arms around his waist. "I can see through you. You're doing this for me."