The DeValera Deception
Review: Readers expecting the father/son writing team of Michael McMenamin and Patrick McMenamin to turn Winston Churchill into an amateur sleuth in The DeValera Deception may alternately be relieved and disappointed. Churchill, though he is present throughout much of the book, actually plays a relatively minor role here, the focus being on investigative reporter Bourke Cockran and photojournalist Martha "Mattie" McGary.
"Churchill had been looking forward to his trip to North America [in the late summer of 1929]. Three months of rest, relaxation, writing and painting, all in the luxurious comfort of private railway cars and four-star hotels. The newspaper articles he would write along the way would not only pay for the journey but generate a tidy profit. Perfect. And now the Prime Minister had made it even better. All this and an adventure to boot. And with an old nemesis Churchill knew well, the IRA. He could hardly believe his good fortune ..." With this as a premise, Churchill writes to the (fictional) son of a man he called his political mentor, US Representative William Bourke Cockran. Named for his father, Bourke Cockran is a writer reporting on the state of reparations in Europe following the end of the Great War. Churchill asks Bourke to meet him in Montreal in upon his arrival in North America, where he wants to ask for his help in tracking down the financial sources for arms to be supplied to the IRA. More conflict with Ireland is the last thing the British need, who fear Germany is allying itself with Russia to rebuild its economy — and military strength — and would prefer to focus on providing for the security of Poland to act as a buffer between to the two nations.
Bourke meets Mattie by accident, but the two strike up a quick, professional friendship, one that will tap both their talents as they cross the country to California, all the time learning what Churchill needs to know.
The DeValera Deception works well as both historical fiction (there are a lot of real characters and factual events presented here, so many that it's easy to forget Bourke and Mattie are fictional) and adventure thriller. Using Churchill as a private citizen during his "Wilderness Years" (his party is out of power in England at this point in time) as a pivot point for the plot — he did, indeed, travel across the United States in 1929 and visited William Randolph Hearst in California, who was sponsoring the Graf Zeppelin on its around-the-world voyage — helps keep the storyline grounded and credible. Crisply written and meticulously researched, The DeValera Deception is a remarkably well-crafted adventure story.
Acknowledgment: Enigma Books provided an ARC of The DeValera Deception for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The DeValera Deception: New York City, Montreal, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Jersey
— ♦ —
The DeValera Deception by Michael McMenamin and Patrick McMenamin — A Winston Churchill Mystery
Publisher: Enigma Books
Publication Date: October 2010
List Price: $23.95