Nuala Anne McGrail is almost more than any poor mortal man can handle without losing his sanity: her beauty causes shortness of breath in men of all ages, she's strong, she's smart, she's witty, she sings like an angel, and--to top it all off--she's psychic, or fey as they say in the Old Country.But our man Dermot Michael Coyne, ""accidental millionaire,"" part-time writer, and full-time worshiper of Nuala, seems to be bearing up pretty well in as much as Herself has consented to marry him.Before that blissful day arrives, another one of Nuala's ""spells"" sends the pair on a hunt to find out what really happened to Al Capone's famous rival, Jimmy ""Sweet Rolls"" Sullivan. And as they've found in previous adventures, historic mysteries can often be too current for safety, and the dead should be left buried--wherever they are. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
The veteran Greeley plots this latest work with some admirable cunning, which shows up clearly in a highly believable trading expos� and in the exacting re-creation of the supposed death of an enigmatic crime lord from Capone-era Chicago. Unfortunately, it all counts for naught beside the truly tiresome twosome around whom this third book in a series (after Irish Gold and Irish Lace) revolves. Nuala Anne McGrail is an Irish beauty with a fine singing voice, all kinds of sexy outfits, a job as an accountant and the gift of second sight. She talks dirty, likes to be fondled and must be the least likely virgin featured in recent literature. Her dutiful betrothed is Dermot Coyne, who also doubles as the narrator. A former commodities trader who's now a bestselling author, Dermot is currently under investigation for the $3 million he netted during his brief trading days. When Nuala "sees" an empty coffin in a cemetery plot, the hunt for a missing corpse is on. The shooting death of Jimmy Sullivan, onetime rival to Al Capone, emerges as just the kind of long-unexplained mystery that exactly suits Nuala's otherworldly gifts and Dermot's dogged legwork. Dermot's trial is fun, and so is Jimmy's turbulent history. But the lovers' dialogue is laughable with its lewd promises for the upcoming wedding night. And then there's Dermot's continuous declarations of his endless devotion and the lustful attention Nuala elicits from every breathing male in Chicago. One might be tempted to opine that Greeley knows less about love (or lust) than he might think. Author tour. (Mar.)
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December 14, 1998
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Excerpt from Irish Whiskey by Andrew M. Greeley
"THERE'S SOMETHING wrong with that grave," Nuala Anne McGrail informed me. She was pointing an accusing right hand at a large monument with the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Mother presiding over a grave on which the family name "Sullivan" was carved.
I had just helped her off the ground after she had made a sign of the cross to indicate that our period of devotion was over. That she accepted my help was typical of her present mood; normally she would have disdained my assistance and bounded up on her own. Nuala was the bounding kind of young woman.
"Wrong?" I asked, dreading another manifestation of my affianced's notorious psychic intuitions.
"Who was this man James Sullivan who died in 1927?" she demanded.
It was a bleak Sunday in mid-September. Mother Nature had forgotten there ever was such a thing as summer and was settling in for an early and brief autumn, which she would follows with her favorite season in Chicago--endless winter. The lawns of Mount Carmel cemetery were already covered with a carpet of leaves. A child northeast wind was shaking the trees and adding to the carpet. The dank smell of rain was in the air. A perfect day for a visit to a cemetery--and a perfect day for the dark mood into which the beauteous Nuala seemed to have sunk.
"He was a bootlegger, Nuala. And a very successful one at that. The Italians called him Sweet Rolls Sullivan because he owned a bakery right across from the Cathedral. Where the parking lot is now."
"Whatever in the world was a bootlegger, Dermot Michael?"
Looking like a teenager, she was dressed in the standard utility uniform of young women--jeans, white Nike running shoes, and a dark blue sweatshirt, the last named in this instance representing one of my alma maters, Marquette University (from which at the end of my four years of college I did not depart with a degree). She wore no makeup and her long black hair was tied back in a brisk ponytail. None of these utilitarian measures affected in the least her radiant good looks.
"A bootlegger," I explained, "was a man who smuggled whiskey."
"To escape the tariffs?" She frowned at the offending gravestone.
My beloved was the kind of beautiful women at whom everyone turned to look, even in a cemetery. She was tall and her body was that of a lithe woman athlete. Her pale skin and glowing blue eyes hinted at an ancient Celtic goddess as did the twinkling of bells over the bogs in her voice. The first time I saw her, I thought of such womanly Celtic deities and came to learn that on occasion she could be at least as imperious as Brigid or Sionna or Bionna or one of those gorgeous and fearsome women. Naturally I promptly fell in love with her.
It turned out that, although she had dismissed me the years before in O'Neill's pub down the street from Trinity College as a friggin' rich Yank, she had also fallen in love with me.
By the way, if you want to pronounce her name correctly, it sound like "Noola" with the double "o" stretched out and sounding like you had a bit of Dublin fog in your throat.
"No, it was Prohibition time."
Her frown deepened.
"Well, then, whatever was Prohibition?"
Ah, the innocence of young.
"There was a time, back in the nineteen twenties, when the Protestants in this country passed a constitutional amendment prohibiting the possession or sale of alcoholic beverages."
"You're having me on, Dermot," she insisted, huddling close, her arm around my waist. "There never was such a thing as prohibition in this country."
When the Irish say "never" like that they are not so much denying the existence of the reality in question as they are expressing astonishment that such a reality could ever be.
Naturally, I put my arm around her and held her tightly. In a couple of weeks this woman would be mine--and I would be hers--and I looked forward with passionate eagerness to that union.
In all its manifestations.
She was shivering as though it were December instead of mid-September. It wasn't that cold.
"It's true," I said "Obviously it didn't work. It was a foolish law, which almost everyone violated. The saloons were closed, but speakeasies as we called them opened everyone. Jazz music came to Chicago to entertain the flappers and their dates while they drank bootlegged booze. The bootleggers made tone of money and of course risk their lives in wars with one another."