Irish Linen (Nuala Anne McGrail Series)
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Irish Linen (Nuala Anne McGrail Series)

4.3 6
by Andrew M. Greeley
     
 

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The perils of wartime add special urgency to latest mysteries being investigated by Nuala Anne McGrail and her adoring husband, Dermot Coyne. More than a little fey, Nuala has a well-deserved reputation for getting to the bottom of even the most tangled intrigues, even when they may be taking place on the other side of the world.

Desmond Doolin, an idealistic

Overview

The perils of wartime add special urgency to latest mysteries being investigated by Nuala Anne McGrail and her adoring husband, Dermot Coyne. More than a little fey, Nuala has a well-deserved reputation for getting to the bottom of even the most tangled intrigues, even when they may be taking place on the other side of the world.

Desmond Doolin, an idealistic young man from their West Side Chicago neighborhood, has gone missing in Iraq. Having flown off to the Middle East in the name of peace, he hasn’t been heard of since. The U.S. government denies any knowledge of his whereabouts, and his grieving family has all but written him off as dead, but Nuala is convinced that there’s more to the story . . . and herself won’t stop asking questions until she finds out what has really become of Desmond, one way or another.

Meanwhile, a parallel investigation uncovers the story of another young man abroad in dangerous times. Poking around in the past, Dermot and Nuala happen upon the memoirs of Timothy Patrick Clarke, the Irish ambassador to Nazi Germany, who risked his life for the sake of a beautiful German widow . . . and a secret plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Working together as always, Nuala and her husband find themselves engrossed in the secrets of the past, the present, and two very different wars.

Irish Linen is another captivating installment in a series that Publishers Weekly calls “immensely entertaining.”

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An unexpected smidge of gravitas helps Nuala Anne’s sixth rise to the top of the series.”—Kirkus on Irish Cream

“Irresistible.”—Booklist on Irish Cream

“No contemporary writer is better than Greeley at depicting the genius, humor, logic, personal skills, and cultural idiosyncrasies of the Irish, whether in American cities like Chicago or across the big pond in Ireland. This author is the master of modern Irish ethnic genius! . . . A delight to read. . . . This book is bound to give you a few hours of great reading pleasure!”—Shelby-Utica News, Utica MI on Irish Cream

“The comical banter between Dermot and Nuala Anne cleverly gives the reader insight into their Irish heritage as well as their Catholic faith.”—Romantic Times BOOKreviews

“Coziness .. . is the appeal of these mysteries. Solid, modest Dermot and fiery, unpredictable Nuala Anne enjoy an ideal marriage: sexy and humorous and unabashedly loving. Happiness is much harder to write than misery, and Greeley deserves credit for making this fantasy as much fun as it is.”—Los Angeles Times on Irish Eyes

“A love story as much as a mystery, with Greeley portraying Chicago’s middle-class Irish-American ethnics with flair, dignity, and affection for their lilting speech.”—Chicago Sun-Times on Irish Lace

“The prolific cleric plops his psychic singer heroine and her family into a delicious stew of trouble in his latest crowd pleaser . . . the double plot is rich with detail, while the couple’s earnestness and good intentions are never in question.”—Publishers Weekly on Irish Stew!

Publishers Weekly
Readers who can endure the juvenile sex talk at the start of Greeley's 10th Nuala Anne McGrail novel (after 2006's Irish Crystal) will be rewarded with a mildly entertaining mystery. When Nuala Anne, singer and sometime psychic, learns that Desmond Doolin, a peacenik young man from her Chicago neighborhood, has gone missing in the Middle East, she's convinced that he's still alive. But if U.S. government officials know Desmond's whereabouts, they're not talking, and finding him requires Nuala Anne and her adoring, dilettantish husband, Dermot Coyne, to research his path through the Middle East as well as pin down his relationship with the Catholic Church. Nuala Anne's search for Desmond is interwoven with the fictional memoir of an Irish diplomat in Nazi Germany, which Nuala Anne and Dermot just happen to be reading. Though this historical tale offers some intriguing counterpoints to Doolin's situation, the WWII chapters too often distract from Nuala Anne herself, who's supposed to be the star of the show. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nuala Anne McGrail Coyne, "singer, accountant, actress, detective, wife, mother, lover" and brilliant at the lot, is tasked in her tenth (Irish Crystal, 2006, etc.) with locating a lad likely lost somewhere in the wilds of Iraq. The demands of family life are something terrible-two dogs, three kids, one of them nursing, to say nothing of a terminally besotted husband's connubial needs. If a Galway lass is to search for a missing boy, it must be without stirring a gorgeous foot from her neighborhood on Chicago's West Side. But when the parents of the idealistic, much-loved Desmond Doolin come calling with that bereft look in their eyes, Nuala Anne rises to the occasion by calling on her second sight, a "ding" made possible since, among her other talents, she is one of "the dark ones." Meanwhile, hubby Dermot Michael pores over a World War II manuscript that tells the tale of Timmy Pat Clarke, Irish ambassador to Nazi Germany. Colorful as that is, it has little enough to do with vanished young Doolin, though in a tale so loosely plotted, digressions don't matter. What does matter is adherence to the kitschy formula that's earned Father Greeley his faithful fan base. Nuala Anne and Dermot Michael speak in stage-Oirish brogues, engage in a modicum of ratiocination, make protracted love and unabashedly, unwaveringly, unremittingly extol their kind as the Creator's anointed. Irish chutzpah.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765355003
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
02/05/2008
Series:
Nuala Anne McGrail Novels Series, #10
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
4.28(w) x 6.67(h) x 1.02(d)

Read an Excerpt

Irish Linen

1

AFTER A certain number of books, even folly-driven mass horror becomes boring. All right, I had to read them for my wife's current case, a search for a nice young man from our neighborhood who had disappeared in the Middle East, maybe in Iraq. There was, I thought, not a chance in the world of Nuala solving this one without one or the other of us flying to Kuwait or Dubai or some such place. That we would not do. Since she would have to stay home to take care of the kids, I would have to fly to Kuwait and she wouldn't let me do that.

I pushed aside the stack of books about the world from 1914 to 1945 and began a dialogue with my six-month-old son Poraig Josefa (Patrick Joseph) Coyne aka "Patjo."

"We have a lot in common, young man," I informed him. "We are both large, good-looking, gentle blonds who are also lazy, mostly undependable sensualists. One might even use the adjective 'useless.' We make our way through life not by hard work but because we have a happy smile, an appealing laugh, and lots of barely resistible Irish charm. We both have breast fixations, indeed about the same pair of lovely breasts, if for somewhat different but related reasons."

He smiled enthusiastically.

"You must never tell your mother I told you these truths, because she becomes furious when people assert them aboutme and she'll go ballistic if she should learn that I'm saying that about you."

He laughed.

"Herself, mind you, is a brilliant woman altogether, to use the Irish superlative and, if you don't mind my using male talk, a wonderful lay. She has a friggin' ton of talents and she feels obligated to be perfect at all of them—singer, accountant, actress, detective, wife, mother, lover. She's the alpha person in this house and the sooner you learn it the better off we'll all be. You four young 'uns, the two wolfhounds, the nanny, and the housekeeper work for her. As does your poor father. The only reason you're here is that she had to prove she could have a normal, easy pregnancy. The red-haired woman in the house, your big sister Nelliecoyne, required a lot of effort to bring into the world, your big brother Micky plunged her into a terrible fit of PPD as they call it these days. Then the little imp who presides over you like she's your mother showed up awfully early and barely made it. Your mom thinks these events were somehow or the other her fault. Well, she knows better, but deep down in her bronze-age Irish soul, she's still convinced she did something wrong. We conceived you in a memorable night of orgy so that she'd finally get it right and we'd also have a neatly balanced family, two boys and two girls, which appeals to her accountant's love of order. I shouldn't mention it to you but I will. She knew your gender and that it would be an untroubled pregnancy at least a month before your conception. I don't know how she does that and I don't want to know."

He frowned. Hungry again. I offered him one of the bottles of milk that I had stockpiled for him. As his mother would have said, he destroyed it altogether and discarded the bottle like a fifteen-year-old male would discard a beer can. He then closed his eyes like he was thinking seriously about sleep.

I glanced out the window and considered Sheffield Avenue, which on this mild, wet, and dark April morning looked like a set for a horror film. Everything—trees, lawns, homes, the church and school—was dank and barren, foghovered just above the church steeple, it seemed, and drizzle was touching the ground with its faint hint of corruption. I imagined I could even smell corruption, the corruption of an old graveyard.

"Don't misunderstand me, young man, your mother is an astonishing woman. My lust for her varies from intense most of the time, to mild and that only after she's exhausted me in bed. If your man Freud is right, you feel the same way about her. Well, she's mine, do you hear!"

In fact, he didn't hear because he was sleeping soundly.

"With any luck, your mother and Socra Marie will return soon from her weekly voice lesson with Madame down at the Fine Arts Building. The little terrorist needs an afternoon nap to replenish her energies. The two of you would thus be asleep and your mother and I would have the house to ourselves until the older kids return from St. Josephat's school across Sheffield Avenue. I could take advantage of that situation to fuck her right and proper as they say in her native land ... and as she herself has said on occasion."

These salacious words did not upset the woman's son in the slightest. So I began to sing the Connemara lullaby,

On the wings of the wind, o'er the dark, rolling deep Angels are coming to watch o'er your sleep Angels are coming to watch over you So list to the wind coming over the sea

 

Hear the wind blow, hear the wind blow Lean your head over, hear the wind blow.

I shouldn't have been singing it. The lullaby was my wife's. Indeed it had been the lead song on her platinum disk Hear the Wind Blow: Nuala Anne Sings Lullabies. Nevertheless, even in my whiskey tenor voice (not created by drinking whiskey, which I rarely do and only when me spouse wants the two of us to have a splasheen before we progress to other matters), it puts Patjo to sleep for a long time.

"Och, don't I have a rival in me own house!" said a voicewhich always reminds me of church bells ringing across the bogs.

'Twas herself in a tightly fitting blue summer suit, her pale face and deep blue eyes in a leprechaun mood. I tend to gasp and blink every time I see her, a mix of desire and adoration which has been with me ever since I first saw her in O'Neill's pub just off College Green in Dublin.

"Ma, doesn't Da sing real good?" our sleepy-eyed toddler asked.

"Da does lots of things real good," her mother responded. "I'll put this one down in the nursery, Dermot love," she said. "Why don't you put himself in the bedroom, where our conversation won't wake him up?"

"Conversation be damned, woman! I have other plans!"

"Do you now?" My wife, always a modest woman, blushed.

Fiona, our elder wolfhound, rose up from her own afternoon nap and padded down to the nursery while Maeve ambled into the master bedroom where Patjo still ruled. I never understood how the two dogs divided their child protection responsibilities.

In a very few minutes Nuala Anne returned to my office, several buttons on the front of her suit open and a robe draped over her arm. Very gently I claimed her in my arms. She leaned against me and sighed loudly, "Well, if you want to fuck me, I suppose, I have to let you do it."

Nuala is very careful with her language under most circumstances, having learned, much to her dismay, that "your Yanks are not relaxed about words, are they now?" She is also careful about such matters when there are little ears around. However, privately she reverts to the West of Ireland traditions when we're alone.

"Sure, Dermot Michael," she added, "isn't it yourself that owns me altogether? You look at me that way and don't I want to take off all me clothes?"

That's not the way it really works. Most of the undressing is left to me. I had learned early in our marriage that there was no upper limit to the amount of foreplay my wife could absorb.

"We'll talk about the war afterwards, won't we, Dermot love?" She sighed as my lips sank to her breasts to taste a bit of her milk.

"Woman, we will, but only after I've reestablished my reputation as a Viking ravager of Irish matrons."

She laughed.

"If you were really one of them dumb Vikings, I'd already have me knife in your heart ... Och, Dermot leave some for poor Patjo ..."

I will not describe what me wife looks like with all her clothes off, save to say that she is lithe rather than voluptuous and that she looks like a naked Irish goddess, not one of your buxom Greco-Roman though, mind you, I've never slept with a naked Irish goddess, nor even set eyes on one. My Nuala was not one of your hefty, slow-moving classical goddesses like Juno. Rather she was a slender, quick-flowing powerful goddess like the River Shannon. She was also determined that four pregnancies would not change her figure, a goal which both genes and rigorous exercise sustained.

Nor will I give you any of the details of our little afternoon romp, except that we were improving through the years at the signs and the signals, the constantly changing art of the rhythms and the negotiations and the strategies a husband and a wife, if they're sensitive to one another, slowly acquire.

"You're getting better at ravishing the matron." She sighed, a great West of Ireland sigh, like the advent of a major asthma attack, when I had finished with her. Or she with me.

"'Tis yourself," I said, struggling to regain my breath, "that leads me down the path to terrible sin."

"Just like I thought when I first saw you at O'Neill's, that's the kind of man I want to undress me and fuck me for the rest of me life. I'm old enough now to know better, but I haven't changed me mind."

Nostalgia as postcoital reinforcement. The subject would soon change to my readings. Och, didn't you have to pay a price for everything?

Yet she gave me five more minutes of gentle caresses beforeit was time to get down to business. Then she bounded off the couch on which I had taken her and threw on her pale green robe. She folded her suit and her lingerie in a neat little pile on my desk.

"They'll be after coming back in forty-five minutes," she said, nodding in the direction of the parish school across the street. "I'd like to continue this for the rest of the day, but ..."

"But," I said, getting off the couch but not exactly bounding, "we can continue these amusements tonight."

She blushed again.

"Ever since I brought that clone of yours into the world, I've been a pushover for you, Dermot Michael Coyne."

"'Tis the other way around, woman."

"Tell me what you learned this afternoon." She turned into her schoolmarm persona.

Me wife has a couple of dozen different personae, from one to the other of which she moves with the speed of light—this time from the sexual playmate to the serious scholar. I couldn't move that fast, even among my far more limited repertory of masks. So I had to look away from her green robe and disarrayed hair and concentrate on me ... my notes.

"It was only one war," I began. "It started in 1914 and ended in 1945, with a twenty-year intermission. Germany against England and France—and Russia. Germany started it and then restarted it. The Austrians used the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife as an excuse to slap Serbia down. The Germans thought it provided an excellent excuse to try out their plan for mobilization of their armed forces, a plan which predicted that on M Day plus thirty they would be in Paris. Such was their contempt for the military ability of the French that they saw no reason to take them into account. Get your troops on the trains, send them to the front, push across Belgium, and that was that. They had beaten up the French forty-four years before and figured that there was no reason why they couldn't do it again. Both they and the Austrians were convinced that the war would be over in two months, regardless of what the Russians did. To put frostingon their cake, an outnumbered German army in East Prussia wiped out the Russian forces."

"It wasn't a short war, was it?"

"Not at all. They almost made it to Paris but were stopped by the French at the Marne River on M+30. The Germans pulled back, both sides dug trenches and the war settled into bloody attrition for the next three and a half years. In January of 1915, the German chief of staff, one Erich von Falkenhayn, went to the Chancellor, a certain Bethmann-Hollweg, and told him that the war had settled into a stalemate and that Germany should seek some kind of peace deal to prevent the slaughter of its young men. At that point, Nuala Anne, you see what had happened. They hadn't won their quick victory, the military knew it, and wanted to end the slaughter. The Chancellor said that such a deal would embarrass the Kaiser and the war must go on. Thus sealing a death warrant on a whole generation of French, German, and English soldiers."

"Wars being easier to start than to end?"

"That's the overriding lesson of this Thirty-One-Years war. To the point of our investigation, there were many attempts to end it, but finally the one that worked was the destruction of Germany in the spring of 1945."

"But these other attempts might have worked?"

"Most made excellent sense, but no one had the intelligence or the courage to combat the war fever and the patriotism and the desire for vengeance."

"Dermot Michael Coyne," she interrupted me, "stop leering at me like an eejit and get on with the work."

"Sure, woman, I'm doing the best I can, but it isn't that easy with someone like you in me classroom."

She blushed, covered her face with her hands and doubled over.

"Isn't that a grand compliment altogether and meself an onchuck for not being flattered."

She drew her green robe more closely together and held it at the collar, a frivolous precaution against my admiring eyes.

"By 1918," I went on with some effort, "none of the three armies were capable of going on with the war. There were notenough young men to throw into one more big battle. Then the situation changed when Woodrow Wilson found an excuse to involve the United States in a war that at that point was none of our business. That meant millions of more young men to feed into the machine guns and the poison gas and the artillery shells. The Germans tried one more massive offensive, reached the Marne again, and were turned back again. They retreated and the retreat was almost a rout The German people were rioting. The General Staff insisted on an armistice. The Kaiser abdicated, and the shooting stopped. Though the English and the French would never admit it, the United States had saved them, not for the last time."

"How many million dead?"

"Fifteen anyway."

"And the Kaiser was embarrassed anyway!"

"The German, Austrian, and Russian Empires were destroyed and the British Empire fatally weakened. The Communists took over Russia. And nothing had been settled, at all, at all. Except the establishment of an Irish Free State and some artificial nations like Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia and the reestablishment of some old countries like Poland and Lithuania."

"And didn't the Irish set about killing one another and then half a dozen years later, didn't de Valera settle for what he could have had without the Civil War? Och, aren't we humans terribly daft?"

"The French and to some extent the English wanted revenge. At Versailles, they imposed a harsh treaty on the Germans and Mr. Wilson, not in good health by then, was unable to stop them. He hoped that the League of Nations would prevent more war, as naïve a notion as you could imagine. The United States gained absolutely nothing from the war. The Germans sulked and their anger increased as their economy collapsed. A decade later Hitler came to power and Stalin was in control of Russia. The two most powerful countries in Europe were now led by madmen, brilliant madmen perhaps, but still off-the-wall insane."

"All because the Germans had wanted to test their mobilization plan?"

"All because they wanted to demonstrate how brilliant was their military planning. Does that sound like another nation today?"

Nuala rose from her chair, leaned over me without any regard for the parting of her robe, and kissed me fervently.

"And all those poor kids who were killed had wives and maybe kids of their own. I don't want you in any eejit war like, do you hear me now, Dermot Michael Coyne?"

"Woman, I do."

Large paws scratched at both doors.

"'Tis themselves. Sure, I'd better be collecting the kids."

I looked out the window. No sign of kids piling out of St. Josephat's. But the doggies knew it was time to cross the street and collect them. Me wife dressed quickly, a ritual that I enjoyed as much as watching her undress. She opened the door to our bedroom, placed the green robe on a chair, and emerged with Maeve in tow.

"Would you see to himself, Dermot love?"

"I will."

I watched the ritual as Nuala with the two huge white dogs on leashes, walking docilely at her sides, crossed Sheffield and waited for Nelliecoyne and Micky—no raincoat for the Galway woman on a soft day. Her light blue suit—the perfect color for turning heads on Michigan Avenue—was a beam of radiance in the schoolyard. A horde of kids rushed up to play with the hounds. Then, waiting for the approval of the crossing guards, dreadfully serious sixth-grade girls, my entourage crossed the streets. I collected my clone, who would have rather continued his nap but who laughed happily when he heard his siblings tramp into the house.

"One more thing, young man. I've know her for almost twelve years and slept with her for almost ten years and I haven't begun to figure her out. Maybe I should turn our conversation into a poem and send it to Poetry."

Copyright © 2007 by Andrew M. Greeley Enterprises, Ltd.

Meet the Author

Priest, sociologist, author and journalist, Father Andrew M. Greeley built an international assemblage of devout fans over a career spanning five decades. His books include the Bishop Blackie Ryan novels, including The Archbishop in Andalusia, the Nuala Anne McGrail novels, including Irish Tweed, and The Cardinal Virtues. He was the author of over 50 best-selling novels and more than 100 works of non-fiction, and his writing has been translated into 12 languages.

Father Greeley was a Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona and a Research Associate with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. In addition to scholarly studies and popular fiction, for many years he penned a weekly column appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers. He was also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, the National Catholic Reporter, America and Commonweal, and was interviewed regularly on national radio and television. He authored hundreds of articles on sociological topics, ranging from school desegregation to elder sex to politics and the environment.

Throughout his priesthood, Father Greeley unflinchingly urged his beloved Church to become more responsive to evolving concerns of Catholics everywhere. His clear writing style, consistent themes and celebrity stature made him a leading spokesperson for generations of Catholics. He chronicled his service to the Church in two autobiographies, Confessions of a Parish Priest and Furthermore!

In 1986, Father Greeley established a $1 million Catholic Inner-City School Fund, providing scholarships and financial support to schools in the Chicago Archdiocese with a minority student body of more than 50 percent. In 1984, he contributed a $1 million endowment to establish a chair in Roman Catholic Studies at the University of Chicago. He also funded an annual lecture series, “The Church in Society,” at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois, from which he received his S.T.L. in 1954.

Father Greeley received many honors and awards, including honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland at Galway, the University of Arizona and Bard College. A Chicago native, he earned his M.A. in 1961 and his Ph.D. in 1962 from the University of Chicago.

Father Greeley was a penetrating student of popular culture, deeply engaged with the world around him, and a lifelong Chicago sports fan, cheering for the Bulls, Bears and the Cubs. Born in 1928, he died in May 2013 at the age of 85.

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Irish Linen (Nuala Anne McGrail Series) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Irish Linnen is the 10th in Andrew Greeley's series starring Nuala Anne and her husband Dermot. Nuala uses her 'fey' abilities to solve mysteries and get into trouble while doing it. Nuala and her loving family will keep you laughing with there antics and you'll fall in love with them. I highly recommend this book to any one who enjoys mysteries, romances and classic literature. Even though Mr. Greeley is a catholic priest you don't have to be catholic to enjoy his books, I know. He has very good insights into love and marriage and his books reflect his love of life and his Irish heritage.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My review is that this new tenth series of the Nuala Ann McGrail novels is very exciting. The two events in this new novel tie into the war in Iraq, something the that readers of this new novel can relate to. The previous novels focused on events that took place in the 17th and 18th centrey.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Idealist peace lover Desmond Doolin is missing somewhere in the Middle East, probably Iraq where his Chicago based family last heard from him. The US government does what it does best, deny knowing anything about what happened to Desmond or if he is even alive. Having heard nothing for several weeks, his grieving family assumes he is dead. Part-time psychic Nuala Anne McGrail finds out that fellow Windy City resident Desmond vanished without a trace somewhere allegedly in the Middle East. While everyone else concludes he was murdered, she believes he remains alive. She persuades her spouse Dermot Michael Coyne, who trusts her instincts, that they must follow the missing man¿s path both in the Middle East and with the Catholic Church. --- The investigation into Desmond¿s disappearance engages readers, as Nuala Anne¿s psychic power keeps her and Dermot believing the young man is alive he especially has come a long way from the earlier tales. However, a memoir written by an Irish diplomat to Nazi Germany that the lead couple is reading is also fascinating but distracts from the prime plot though it makes some interesting muses like ¿Wars are easier to start than to end¿. Still this is an intriguing thriller starring an interesting obstinate protagonist. --- Harriet Klausner