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Lord of the Dance
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Lord of the Dance

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by Andrew M. Greeley

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A classic tale by one of America's most beloved storytellers.

High in the cold skies above China, Daniel Farrell flew alone, a spy pilot on secret surveillance. It was to be his last mission. . . .

When the news of his loss was reported to his family, the rich and influential Farrells of Chicago, they mourned him and let the years bury what was too painful to


A classic tale by one of America's most beloved storytellers.

High in the cold skies above China, Daniel Farrell flew alone, a spy pilot on secret surveillance. It was to be his last mission. . . .

When the news of his loss was reported to his family, the rich and influential Farrells of Chicago, they mourned him and let the years bury what was too painful to face . . . until a granddaughter's innocent school assignment threatened to expose the family's hidden skeletons.

The Farrells had worked their way up from poverty to become the owners of a Chicago construction empire. But behind the façade of piety and public service, the family hid a shocking private scandal. There was a reason they had never insisted on a full investigation of the disappearance of Danny Farrell. . . .

With a master storyteller's skill, Andrew M. Greeley disentangles the web of deception to reveal the souls of men and women ravaged by love and hate and the struggle for success.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Greeley writes with passion and narrative force.” —Chicago Sun-Times

“An expert on the emotions that make us human.” —The Minneapolis Star

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt





Glowing in the distance, cool, firm, confident, the Himalayas reminded him of Irene. Irish male breast fixation, she would say with an amused little smile. He would reply that at least he had good taste in his fixations. And she would blush with delight, limitless in her capacity to absorb compliments.

He had made the prescribed sweeping turn over the Sinkiang plateau at a point a hundred miles short of the Russian border. At least his sextant, a dubious instrument at best, assured him that Russia was still a hundred miles away.

Halfway home. The sun now at his back. The prevailing winds, too. May the wind be at your back. A long way from the old neighborhood, where that was a wedding toast.

And may you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you’re dead.…

He grinned. No toast yet for him. Jackie would have to give it when he got back.… No, not the ruggedly handsome young priest, better the intellectual—Roger. Something more elaborate than an old Irish American cliché.… Damn. He missed them both. Too much of their father, Clancy, in them. Still, they were mostly Brigid’s kids.…

Six more hours. The station chief had told him it was the less important half of the trip, not that you could believe anything they said there. He was stiff and uncomfortable in his pressure suit. This giant blackbird, for all its soaring grace, was more cranky than the others. It needed careful nursing every mile.

You flew over the Himalayas because they were there—and on the way to his destination in northern Thailand. They made him think of Irene again.

Was her ability to forgive as great as her passion? He thought it might be. Lord knows she would have to forgive him for the rest of their lives.

The sun turned the mountains red, reminding him of another haunting image: his uncle Clancy at the foot of the stairs, blood pouring from his head, all that anger snuffed out, looking like a broken Christmas toy.

And then more blood: a young woman’s face. Not Irene. Someone else. His mother, probably. She and Irene were often confused in his dreams.

What had really happened to his mother on that day? Did he remember it? Or did he merely remember the stories he had heard when he was older?

A beautiful young face, smashed bloody like Uncle Clancy’s. And he was responsible both times.

He would not let it happen to Irene.

Another year and a half on his contract. What could the Chinese be doing down there that was so interesting? In a year they would have spy satellites and they wouldn’t need the great blackbirds, half jet and half sailplane.

They would find some use for them, though. And for the kooks who flew them.

They traded the Russians for Gary Powers. No trades with the Chinese.

God, I need Irene. Okay, God, since I brought you up, you know how much I need her.

And she needs me. She’ll never survive them without me.

Irene leaning over him on the beach, her long hair touching his motionless body, tantalizing him until he thought he would lose his mind; then the edge of her fingernails …

And her blunt warning that he would have to grow up. Their last day together and their last fight.

He hardly noticed the flameout; there was only a change in the sound and an ever so slight downward tilt of the bird. It had happened before. Let her float a few thousand feet and start it over.

He tried at 60,000, 55,000, 50,000. No dice. The Chinese MIGs could make it no higher than 45,000—that’s what they told him.

The bird floated lower. 30,000 and still no MIGs. 25,000. Time to jettison, destroy the plane, walk out of Sinkiang.

Where to? Russia?

He pushed the eject button. No reaction. Sixty seconds and the plane would blow up. He pushed the button again. Still no ejection.

Something was beginning to smell. He watched the second hand sweep on his watch: thirty, twenty, ten …

Forgive me, I love—

No explosion. Something badly wrong.

Then the MIGs, dancing up to him like angry mosquitoes. The little puffs of light from their tracers. Shoot first, little Chinese friends, ask questions later.

Put the plane into a dive, evade them, try the motor again. It wouldn’t start. A MIG following him down. More tracers.

A kaleidoscope of faces. His mother, eyes open and staring; Brigid, her white lace gown torn and covered with blood; Clancy, blood pouring from his head; John, the self-satisfied young priest; Roger, the faintly supercilious intellectual; Irene …

Dear God.



Copyright © 1984 by Andrew 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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