Irish Stew! A Nuala Anne McGrail Novel
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 2002, 360 pp.
As in the other novels in this series, the action starts immediately. May and Nuala Anne and Dermot are bringing home their third child, Socra Marie. With the addition of Socra Marie, Dermot and Nuala Anne now have three children plus two Irish Wolfhounds, a housekeeper and a nanny. Socra Marie was born prematurely three months earlier and is just now being released from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the hospital. Her struggle to survive are one of the themes of this story.
As in the other novels in this series, the family crisis, Socra Marie's struggle for survival in this case, is accompanied by the need to solve both a past and an present mystery. The first mystery is introduced as a flashback to eleven months earlier in Italy where Nuala Anne had been invited to perform at a Celtic music festival. While relaxing after the festival they make the acquaintance of a lawyer from the South Side of Chicago as well as Socra Marie. The fey in Nuala Anne sees the mark of death on Seamus Costelloe , the lawyer, and, as the novel progresses, Nuala Anne and Dermot find themselves trying to find the killer and avert Costelloe's murder.
The second big mystery, the one from the past, is introduced at the very beginning of the novel during Socra Marie's homecoming when Nuala Anne hears what she thinks is thunder on a cloudless day. Later, their four year old daughter, Nelliecoyne or Nellie (nee Mary Anne), assures her mother that the noise was just some men setting off a bomb down at the Haymarket and not thunder. The bomb that Nellie refers to had exploded during the Haymarket riot one hundred and fourteen years earlier in 1886.
With both his wife's and daughter's fey visions as leads, Dermot is kept busy investigating murder mysteries past and present. The novel is fast paced and holds the readers attention up to the climax of all three crises at the end. Along the way the reader learns much about the Haymarket incident, the details of which remain both a mystery and controversy among scholars today. Greeley here provides the facts and uses his fiction to provide his solution to the mystery.
Greeley also provides considerable information about both how medical science is now able to keep a growing number of premature babies alive until they are strong enough to survive on their own as well as the trials and challenges the parents of these babies face. But the knowledge and hope Greeley provides for such parents is only part of the story. It is Dermot and Nuala Anne's deep faith in God and strong love for each other that enable them to survive this and the numerous other crises they encounter in the course of this series.
This report prepared by Chuck Nugent