Herbst started out as a scriptwriter, and it shows in her first novel, a comic romance set in the midst of the Irish troubles. The story unfolds in quick, vivid, eminently filmable scenes and sports a cast of broad, comfortable characters. At the top of the list, there are Aggie O'Connell, ""lusty, busty, and fortyish,"" and her cherubic eight-year-old son, Tim, who leave New York after James O'Connell's death and return to Ireland. Aggie's Rubensesque proportions and generous insurance settlement make her Dublin's favorite widow, adored especially by Detective Thomas O'Hare, scourge of all terrorists, a right-thinking son of Erin who loves little diabetic Timmy almost as much as he does Aggie. But before he can work up the courage to ask for her hand, he gets involved in an IRA bombing case that leaves the blood of innocents, as well as of a lovely young Protestant girl, on his hands. While O'Hare stalls, Aggie falls into bed with dapper young Paddy Morphy. The next day O'Hare finds Paddy's tie under Aggie's bed and bids her an angry adieu. But then Timmy accidentally shoots the baker, P.A. Delahanty, a pederast who's been mauling him in the back room of the shop, and the crisis brings O'Hare and Aggie back together. Only the serious background of the novel--the terrorist activities and O'Hare's detective work--make interesting reading. The Aggie-O'Hare romance is pure soap, with perverse, albeit unfunny elements (like the homosexual baker), and a ridiculous fairy-tale ending.
Pub Date: March 18, 1988
Page Count: -
Publisher: Mercury House--dist. by Kampmann (9 E. 40 St., New York, NY 10016)