Picks and Pans Review: Irish Whiskey

updated 03/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Andrew M. Greeley

There's an intriguing plot nugget buried beneath the metaphysical mumbo jumbo in priest and mystery author Andrew Greeley's typically stiff new novel. It's a tale dating back to the 1920s, when "Sweet Rolls" Sullivan (modeled on real-life Chicago hood Deanie O'Bannion) conspired with Al Capone to fake his own death so he could escape his many enemies.

The scheme is uncovered when Greeley's heroine, Nuala Anne McGrail, an accountant and singer with supposed psychic powers, intuits that Sullivan's grave site is empty. Aided by her fiancé, Dermot Coyne, a commodities trader turned novelist, McGrail starts looking into the case. Greeley often distracts us from their sleuthing by inserting adolescent sex fantasies about their upcoming wedding night, and by his need to show how oh-so-leprechauny Irish McGrail and Coyne are. They never use the phrase "at all" without repeating it, as in "There'll be no problem about that at all, at all."

This is the third Greeley novel featuring McGrail and Coyne. If it turns out to be the last, his fans may grieve. Connoisseurs of good literature may not feel sorry at all, at all. (Forge, $23.95)

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