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Back Bay Mass Market Paperback


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (July 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446363162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446363167
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Martin's first novel is a clever and entertainaing blend of history, family, saga, and mystery. Its focus is on a magnificent gold and silver tea set that, made by Paul Revere and presented to George Washington by the merchants of Boston, becomes a key factor in the destinies of a prosperous Boston family, the Pratts, for 250 years. The set is stolen from the White House in 1814 by Horace Pratt in revege for governmet trade restrictions, and buried in the mud of the Back Bay. Later that part of the bay is landfilled, and the set's whereabouts become a mystery, solvable only by someone who can decipher certain clues in a Pratt diary. Shuttling between past and present, the narative detailsthe attempts of generations of pPRatts, and others, to retrieve the treasure, and encompasses a while string of violent deeds, including suiccide and murder. Matters reach an exciting though tragic climax in the1970s when twogroups opf serachers find the sert almost simultaneously.—Publisher's Weekly

Don't be fooled by the title: this mystery/adventure is no Beacon Hill tea party but a Southie-style rouser starring several generations of Yankee tycoons - the crafty Pratts - and their immigrant descended allies and enemies. The first American Pratt is Boston merchant Horace, who, disapproving of President Madison's trade policies in 1814, decides to fence a magnificent treasure, "The Golden Eagle Tea Set" - 31 pieces of flawless silver created by Paul Revere and presented to the White House in perpetuity by Washington. But somewhere, amid the British invasion chaos, the tea set goes astray - on a wild sea journey to a bizarre grave where it will stay until the 20th century. So it's up to present-day history grad student Peter Fallon and Evangeline Carrington, a Pratt descendant, to put together the Pratt family secrets and get to the tea set before it's found by various deadly Bad Guys - including a Pratt-gone-to-seed and a powerful local bully-boy planning to take over the Pratt industrial empire. Fallon and Evangeline, on the run a good deal of the time, work with some classy clues to the Tea Set's location: there are verses from Milton's Paradise Lost, for example, scattered far and wide - one discovered in the belongings of a west coast call girl (who's murdered) , another on a church altar chalice. And the Tale of the Tea Set flips back and forth neatly between the centuries, grisly with Set-linked drownings and murders, spiced with some old scandals. Martin has carefully researched the topography of old Boston and tidily balances his inventive plot with narrow escapes and stopwatch action, including a subway tunnel dig and shootout. Rather gory, very farfetched treasure-hunt fun and mayhem - a bracing brew for long cold nights.—Kirkus

"A rip-roaring page turner. A perfect read!"—Boston Globe

About the Author

William Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, an award-winning PBS documentary, and a cult classic horror movie, too. His first novel, Back Bay, introduced treasure hunting hero Peter Fallon, who has now appeared in five novels, and spent fourteen weeks on the Times list. SInce then Martin has been telling stories of the great and the anonymous in American history, from the Pilgrims to 9/11. His novels, including Cape Cod, Annapolis, City of Dreams, and The Lincoln Letter, have established him as "a storyteller whose smoothness equals his ambition" (Publisher's Weekly). He lives near Boston with his wife and has three grown children. In 2005, he was the recipient of the prestigious New England Book Award, given to "an author whose body of work stands as a significant contribution to the culture of the region."

More About the Author

In his boyhood, William Martin loved what he later called "big stories on broad canvases." He read the novels of C.S. Forester, Dickens, and western author Will Henry. He sat transfixed by the big movies of the early sixties. So after college he went to Hollywood to try his hand at screenwritng but quickly found that his instincts were better suited to novels. His first, "Back Bay," introduced treasure hunter Peter Fallon in a new kind of adventure that joined the contemporary mystery-thriller to the historical novel. In his nine novels (including four best selling Peter Fallon adventures), Martin has tracked national treasures across the landscape of the American imagination, chronicled the lives of the great and the anonymous in American history, and brought to life legendary American locations, from "Cape Cod" to "Annapolis" to the "City of Dreams." He has also written an award-winning PBS documentary on the life of Washington and a cult-classic horror movie, has contributed book reviews to the Boston Globe, and has taught writing across the country, from the Harvard Extension School to the famous Maui Writers Conference. He lives near Boston with his wife and has three grown children. His work has established him as a "storyteller whose smoothness matches his ambition."(Publisher's Weekly) And he was the recipient of the 2005 New England Book Award, given to "an author whose body of work stands as a significant contribution to the culture of the region."

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 53 customer reviews
Back Bay will keep you at the end of your chair with suspense and action.
Alec Parker
The story is well told, but it seems obvious that the author is a historian -- the story and characters in the past, with a few exceptions, seem much more interesting.
audrey
The story is a marvelous blend of fact and fiction and is a must read for anyone who loves Boston, history, and mystery.
Mardy Mancini

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mardy Mancini on June 7, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this gripping saga when it was first published some 20 years ago. Since then, I've recommended it to friends and to newcomers to Boston. Recently, I bought a copy at a local library sale and began to re-read it. I am as caught up in it now as I was all those years ago when I first read it. Martin's "Back Bay" does withstand the test of time. The story is cleverly told by the use of flashback. The reader learns the secret and the mystery of the Pratt family early in the book but must wait for the revelation and solution along with the characters who live in the 20th century. The story is a marvelous blend of fact and fiction and is a must read for anyone who loves Boston, history, and mystery. I would also recommend, as a companion book, Walter Muir Whitehill's topographical history of Boston.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Charles Andrews on September 8, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
William Martin takes his place as the premier historical novelist of our generation. He capably wears the mantle passed down from Michener as story telling historian. He makes us want to learn history. His stories are living entities not a collection of memorized dates. Back Bay carries on the tradition of Cape Cod in both educating and entertaining the reader. This is an art he has refined in Annnapolis and Citizen Washington. While I loved Michener, I often found his introduction a bit laborious. Martin immediately immerses the reader in the story and pulls you along with such compelling force that one rarely knows when to one can take a break. Having live in Boston, I learned more intwo days of reading than in the 3 years of living. From South Boston to the Commons and Beacon Hill, this story brings one of America's first cities alive. The city is the main character.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 31, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am not always much of a reader, but this book caught me from the first pages. It is a MUST for anyone who knows and/or loves the city of Boston and the history that goes along with it. I found myself visualizing the streets and areas of Boston as I read each chapter. My only disappointment was the ending...I could not believe that I was on the last page! I wanted it to end differently for the characters (thus, only 4 stars), but overall I was quite satisfied with the book. I am now going to dig into Cape Cod, but the same author.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jayhawk on November 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
With HARVARD YARD, William Martin's current bestseller, still fresh in my mind, I decided to re-visit an old friend, his first book, BACK BAY. I wanted to re-acquaint myself with the younger Peter Fallon and the Kennedy-esque Pratt family, whose 'march across the 19th century,' as Martin explains, was 'a parade as sweeping, in its own way, as Sherman's march to the sea.' I wanted to once again walk the streets of that old Boston through Martin's eyes and imagination. And, of course, I wanted to re-join Peter Fallon's quest for the Paul Revere Golden Eagle Tea Set, lost to the Madisons when they left Washington. My re-visit was every bit as enjoyable as the first time around, about a quarter century ago, when BACK BAY was first published. That it is still in print, so many years later, attests to the popularity of this effort.

William Martin writes enduring stories with enduring characters while ably illuminating the history of the times. If, by chance, the recent HARVARD YARD was your first of Martin's books, don't miss the opportunity to pick up BACK BAY and start from the beginning. It's a very good place to start!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tracy on October 21, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a Historian so I thought that this book would be an interesting read. All in all this was a good book. I liked the way Mr. Martin would weave the past with what is going on in the future. It was an intriguing story and for the most part I really enjoyed the book. The problem was the ending. Without giving too much detail, the ending of this book was disappointing. After all the build up, it seemed as though Mr. Martin did not know what to do with the ending. I was left with this sense of, "I read this whole book for that?" feeling. I am willing to give this author another shot. He is a good writer and he does a good job of weaving history throughout his books. I just hope my second read does not end the way the first one did.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Clark on August 27, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
unfolds through the clever use of past history with present day characters. It's a mystery based on missing treasure, originaly stolen from The White House just before the British burned it in 1814. It remains hidden and the facts from the past intertwine with modern characters. It has greed, power, lust, murder, and mystery all in one excitingnovel. Martin's scenes of old Boston are a wonder. I can't say more about the plot without ruining it foryou, but I will say this book deserves more than the 5 stars they will allow me
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 20, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read the book in just three sittings because I couldn't put it down! I was tempted to go to Boston and look for the treasure myself! It was great to see the tea set make a guest appearance in Martin's "Annapolis"! If you're just getting into reading historical fiction, or have been reading it for years, this is a great book to add to your collection! "Cape Cod" is right up there with it! Lots of history and lots of mystery!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By audrey TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 18, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a lively read about a wealthy family in Boston. The story is told in chapters that alternate between modern times (the late 1970s, anyway) and the past, as the family is haunted by its relationship to a Paul Revere tea set. The story is well told, but it seems obvious that the author is a historian -- the story and characters in the past, with a few exceptions, seem much more interesting.
Still, this is a fun read, particularly if you're interested in Boston's history.
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