After skidding into thriller territory with his implausible Nerve Endings (1983), Martin returns successfully to the...



After skidding into thriller territory with his implausible Nerve Endings (1983), Martin returns successfully to the historic Boston of his rousing first novel, Back Bay (1979), in this violent, gripping tale--set in 1916--of IRA-gunrunning, Southie politicking, and interfaith lust. Sexual tensions mirror political tensions here, and the catalyst for both is Irish revolutionary Padraic Starr, in Boston to buy guns for the impending Easter Rebellion in Ireland. Within hours of his arrival, Starr kills an English agent hot on his trail and runs for help to his slicker, softer American cousin, Tom Tracy, a rising politico working for legendary Mayor James Curley (one of several historic figures--Louis Brandeis is another--tossed enthusiastically into the plot by Martin). Tom hides Starr but refuses to help further; that is, until his tempestuous Jewish girlfriend, Rachel Levka, meets and falls for the macho Irishman (whose sexy seductions of Rachel are depicted with appropriate steam). Taunted by Starr and teased by Rachel--a Zionist whose revolutionary zeal matches Start's--Tom finally helps Starr hijack a trainload of guns. Days later, provoked by a second British agent's violent attack on himself and Rachel, Tom agrees to accompany Starr to Ireland (with Rachel in tow) to deliver the guns--and to avenge a longstanding wrong, now made urgent by Starr's conscience-pricking presence: to kill the traitorous Irish magistrate who condemned Tom's dad to the gallows 20 years earlier by falsely accusing him of conspiring to kill Queen Victoria. After a long sea voyage punctuated by mutiny and arson, the trio finally reach Ireland. There Starr and Rachel quickly die in the Rebellion; but Tom kills the magistrate and returns to America, at peace with himself. Far-fetched motivations; but turbulent, sexy, and ultimately compelling melodrama decked out with colorful historical trimmings. A storytelling treat for Martin fans, and newcomers.

Pub Date: March 17, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1987

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