From Publishers Weekly
In Delaney's panoramic sequel to Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show, matchmaker Kate Begley plies her profession in neutral WWII Ireland. Into her life come Venetia Kelly narrator Ben MacCarthy, whose wife has gone missing, and Charles Miller, a U.S. intelligence officer who sends Kate and Ben on a secret assignment to France. Upon their return, Kate and Charles marry, but after D-Day, Charles disappears while on a dangerous mission, and Kate enlists Ben's help in finding him. They travel to France and Germany, where they stumble across the German army about to launch its last-gasp assault in the Ardennes and end up questioning the wisdom of remaining neutral in the face of overwhelming evil. An expert at mining Irish lore for congenial fiction, Delaney spins an exciting yarn of romance and intrigue, and, in Kate, he has created an indomitable, unforgettable character. Though the novel's leisurely pace is at odds with the wartime plot (and the subplot about Ben's missing wife will be confusing to those not familiar with the previous book), Delaney wrings the pulp out of a Jack Higgins–like premise and turns it into something more satisfyingly literary. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* Delaney re-earns his reputation for total reader engagement with his latest deeply thought-out novel, which weaves together various strands of the general theme of searching. In memoir format, narrated by a man in old age, the plot finds its provocative place in the WWII years and the immediate postwar years; in substance, it combines the charm of an Irish yarn with the excitement of a political thriller and the romance of a 1940s war movie. Young Ben McCarthy, fulfilling his job with the Irish Folklore Commission, which means taking story-gathering trips around Ireland, one day meets a young woman, Kate Begley, who makes her living as a matchmaker, connecting local unmarried women and men. The encounter is fateful. “She led me into trouble so deep that my own father wouldn’t have found me,” Ben recalls. Although Ben has, in addition to his professional search project, a personal one—looking for his missing wife—he finds Kate so mesmerizing that he accompanies her on a wild adventure taking them from neutral Ireland into hardly neutral continental Europe, first to retrieve for the U.S. Army a German man who has knowledge the Americans want and then to track down the American officer Kate improbably marries, and with whom she promptly loses touch. As artillery guns fire overhead, hearts ache: a compelling combination. High-Demand Backstory: This “chronic” best-selling author will be interviewed about his latest book on NPR, will do in-person promotion in New York, and will be reaching out to book clubs, for which his novels are perfect. (And his publisher is scheduled to heavily promote this one to libraries.) --Brad Hooper