Primary Colors meets George V. Higgins in this tangy tale of Boston politics by a former Massachusetts governor who surely...

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MACKEREL BY MOONLIGHT

Primary Colors meets George V. Higgins in this tangy tale of Boston politics by a former Massachusetts governor who surely never saw any of this stuff himself. Nobody's more surprised than Terrence Mullally when he's tapped to challenge veteran Suffolk County D.A. Marty Gross in the all-important Democratic primary. Terry doesn't have Gross's experience or his connections--he's an orphan only recently exiled to Beantown by a questionable immunization of his childhood mentor, Der. Sgt. Joseph Ballaster (""Joe Balls""), which got him chased out of the US Attorney's office in Brooklyn--and he doesn't have any compelling reason to run against him. What he does have is a practiced ease in addressing crowds of strangers, a bottomless supply of charm, and a demon campaign manager, Lanny Green, out of the AFL-CIO's Washington office. The combination propels Terry through a series of amusingly interchangeable smokers (one of them kicked off by the line ""Fellow designated drivers!""), strategy sessions, and ascensions to the haunts of some serious old money, where he meets Emma Gallaudette, whose money is neither old nor serious. Emma would be the perfect mate for Terry if she weren't already married, but since her well-heeled, indifferent husband Elijah Low is away indefinitely in Hong Kong, she does fine as an imperfect mate, buoying Terry up till he's chased Gross (and, in a finely anticlimactic sequence, his Republican opponent) from the scene and settled in to make a completely new set of enemies among local politicos, journalists, and suddenly unemployed Suffolk County prosecutors. And still it's not enough for Terry, who can't resist challenging an ineffectual Massachusetts senator for his seat. The inevitable reversal seems at first a lot more moralistic than it actually is. A torrent of lovely, nasty upstairs/downstairs chat, though the stop-and-go rhythm of the story and the thinness of characters who aren't Terry reminds you that Weld, for all his rough-and-tumble expertise, is no Anonymous.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998