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on August 24, 2002
I've liked Greeley's work ever since a friend handed me _God Game_ almost two decades ago. Now, however, I'm formally and officially in awe of the man's craftsmanship. I read the book in a headlong, two-days-and-one-night rush, all the while thinking: "This story *shouldn't* be working . . . but it is." It works because Greeley's storytelling abilities salvage a plot that would, in the hands of a lesser writer, have ended in the literary equivalent of a train wreck.
Like the two earlier volumes in the series, _Irish Whiskey_ sets Dermot and Nuala both a historical mystery to unravel. This time, however, the mystery takes more exposition than usual to set up and--once set up--pays off in an unsurprising solution that Dermot and Nuala don't so much reason out as stumble over. Resolution comes in the form of still *more* exposition. Yawn.
Also like the two earlier volumes in the series, _Irish Whiskey_ gives Dermot and Nuala personal obstacles to overcome. Up until now, the problems have been mutual--two lovers working out the tempo and texture of their relationship. This time, however, the problems are separate and external, taking the focus off the Dermot-Nuala relationship at a crucial time in their lives (just prior to their wedding). It doesn't help that the characters responsible for their problems (Nuala's obnoxious brother, Dermot's slimy ex-school-chum, and a politically ambitious prosecutor) are two-dimensional caricatures in a book whose main characters act like living, breathing human beings. Greeley, who can motivate characters with the best of them, barely bothers here. The "bad guys" are rotten to the heroes because . . . well, because *somebody* has to be for the plot to work. The lawyer is particularly ill-served by this. Throughout the last third of the book she repeatedly does boneheaded things for no other reason than to keep the plot moving and set up a big courtroom showdown.
And yet . . . (as herself might put it), doesn't the good Father Greeley make it a fine read altogether? Nuala and Dermot are still two of the *nicest* fictional characters this side of Spider Robinson's "Callahan's Bar" stories, and their dialogue is still delightful for its unfamiliar rhythms (unfamiliar to Yankee ears, anyhow), its humor, and its affectionate verbal jousting. The courtroom scene is riveting, and it's a pleasure to see Dermot's sister (the lawyer in the family) come into her own as a character. I finished the book the way I finished the first two: Smiling broadly, and wishing I could wangle an invitation to dinner with Dermot, Nuala, and their extended families. Ah, now wouldn't that be a time?
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on August 4, 1998
Having been a huge fan of Father Greeley for many years now, I was pleased to see how well he can still spin a yarn. "Irish Whiskey", third in a series surrounding a firery Irish lass named Nuala McGrail, continued to be entertaining as well as insightful. Greeley creates characters that are so alive and real that I find myself hearing them speak in Irish in my head! "Go long wid you now!" Having been raised in the Catholic Church, I find Greeley truly refreshing and insightful with his thoughts about how all of us truly feel regarding the matters of love and sex, and yet we have been programmed to feel guilty about those thoughts! While many think it is shocking that a Catholic priest should write such racy material, I find it refreshing that Father Greeley writes about the things that are beautiful and wholesome, such as the love between a man and a woman. The love story that is the basis of these series of novels, reveals a much more imp! ortant message. It attempts to explains how relationships and marriage can become deeper and more meaningful all within the eyes of God. Greeley and his Nuala McGrail series is a well thought out homily of how he sees men and womem fulfilling their committments to God through their committment to loving one another. Whether you are Catholic or not, you'll love the mystery and if you read carefully enough you will find the wonderful hidden message of how love can conquer all.
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on January 8, 2004
Nuala Anne and her finance are wandering through an old cemetery when they happen upon the tombstone of a notorious Chicago gangster. Fiance proceeds to tell the story of this man's demise, however Nuala Anne tends to disagree. Her extra Irish female intuition is at work and claims that all is not what it appears to be! The twosome adventure through quite a detective story that rattles old bones well-kept in closets. They find themselves in the mix of the current day Mafia and having conversations with people who have mixed emotions about keeping decades old secrets in the skeleton closet where they belong.
Dear reader is delighted to enjoy an interesting work of fiction loosely connected to Chicago Mafia history. Repeated Irish outburts by the indefatigable lass keep us smiling continuously. The story is well-written and encourages investigation of other works by Greeley.
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on June 25, 2001
Irish Whiskey, the third of Andrew Greeley's Nuala Anne McGrail mysteries is not as successful as its predecessors. The mystery deals with the mysterious death of an Irish bootlegger, Jimmy "Sweet Rolls" Sullivan and once again Nuala has the feeling something is not quite right with the story. But the mystery plays second fiddle to two sub-plots; the upcoming wedding of Nuala and her stalwart Watson, Dermot, and a case against Dermot concerning how he achieved the financial independence he has. The former is a problem due to the machinations of Nuala's oldest brother; the latter is caused by a vindictive figure from Dermot's past. Both these storylines take away from the original mystery, which plays second fiddle to these soap opera plot lines. While Greeley continues to make Nuala and Dermot enjoyable and believable characters this was a disappointing sequel.
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on January 15, 1999
Andrew Greely has really out done himself this time. He keeps the reader interested in multiple different scenarios in Dermot Michael Coyne's life. While preparing to get married, investigating the life and death of a famous Mobster and threats of criminal charges make this very complex novel come to life. The Irish intonations in the speakers' voices causes the reader to read out loud and laugh at the anitics of the characters. Fun and very witty writing; every situation is described in great detail. Definitly a book that cannot be put down!
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Hasn't it been a brilliant ride through the "Irish" series? Won't it be better for you to begin with "Irish Gold" then follow it with "Irish Lace" before arriving here at "Irish Whiskey"? In Gold you will become enamored with Dermot and Nuala Anne. In Lace you will hope for their relationship to develop and succeed. In Whiskey . . . well, wouldn't that be telling now? I eagerly await "Irish Mists" arriving in stores next year. Write quickly Father Greeley.
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Andrew Greeley managed once again to write a book that made me want to know these people
as if they were real. The vivid passion and love that are written with the humor thrown in, makes Irish Whiskey a keeper on my shelf, along with the others. So, what is next? Gotta keep these characters going Father!
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on May 21, 1999
I now have read all three of this lovely trilogy and hope and pray to Nuola for the stories to go on and on and on and on.
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on May 19, 1999
I have probably 2/3rds of the Greeley novels, including Irish Lace and Gold. After the first few pages I thought this was going to be a quickly slapped together journal of the events leading up to the nuptials of our heroes, Dermot and Nuala. In fact, I put it down, and only picked it up again after some unexpected down time.
For those of you who presevere, you will find the usual complicated mystery threads, that always tie together quite nicely by the end.
I love Greeley's lack of pretension. I live on the "fringes" of the Chicago Irish community. By that I mean I belong, by heritage, and I am enjoying the recent resurgance of anything Gaelic and Irish, but some take it too far. Many in the community tend to wrap their nationality, newfound respectability and religion about themselves, and use it as a cover to excuse immoral or otherwise bad behavior. Greeley always manages to blow these people away!
What I have always enjoyed about Greeley is his social stance. The protagonists are flawed, yet quietly pious and moral. That would describe Nuala and Dermot. Her brother Lawrence represents the other side of the coin, hiding behind his heritage as he imposes his hatred on everyone else. To me, how the lovers handled his intrusion was the far more interesting mystery of the book.
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