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Mackerel by Moonlight Hardcover – September 10, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (September 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684853469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684853468
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,189,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"I recognized this gambit immediately. It was the old Abe Fortas trick: define the issue so that you and the judge--in this case, the voter--are on one side, and everyone else is on the other side, especially opposing counsel or the opposing candidate," says Terry Mullally, a former prosecutor from Brooklyn now running for district attorney in Boston. "When Fortas was in private practice, he drove his adversaries crazy by persuading the judge that he wasn't an advocate for his client at all, he was just trying to help the court. The more his opponent protested, the more the opponent looked like a shrill partisan who couldn't be trusted to give the judge reliable information." Shrewd, sharply observed inside nuances like that light up almost every page of this debut legal thriller by William F. Weld, the former federal prosecutor and two-term Governor of Massachusetts who never got to be President Clinton's Ambassador to Mexico because of Jesse Helms's determined opposition. Mullally--an orphan virtually raised by cops after his father's death--is a fascinatingly flawed hero for our time, determined to do good even if it means bending the law. He's helped by a fine gallery of supporting players, including an old sportswriter brought in to "Bostonize" the candidate by insisting he say things like "So isn't Murphy" instead of "So is Murphy." --Dick Adler

From Publishers Weekly

Not long after 32-year-old Terrence Mullally takes a job with a Boston law firm, having been forced from his position in Brooklyn as a federal prosecutor, he gets tapped to take on the incumbent in the upcoming race for DA. His major qualifications he's "the available man." Soon, Mullally's sucking up to Boston blue bloods with the best of them, courting a married lady and spinning everything the way spin doctors advise. Debut novelist Weld, himself the former governor of Massachusetts and a former federal prosecutor, has written a funny and suspenseful satire of American politics, in which corruption is "the grease of daily life... everybody knows, nobody cares." Considering Mullally's checkered past (to say how checkered would be giving too much away), readers will wonder what business he has running for public office at all, given the anti-corruption platform on which he runs. He knows, however, that in the political fray, truth is never a consideration; expediency and sound bites are the guiding principles. Granting Mullally a cheerfully cynical voice, Weld offers frank accounts of how attorneys, cops and politicians bend ethics and laws. Despite a few longueurs in some descriptions of political infighting, the story has wit, energy and fine detail, as well as knowledgeable asides ("the old Abe Fortas trick"). The plotting is adroit, as Weld interweaves the machinations of the political campaign, dark revelations about Mullally's past, and the candidate's romance with pragmatic, hard-drinking and sexually freewheeling Emma Gallaudette. The surprising denouement bears out the narrative's message that corruption is endemic to society, "like a mackerel in moonlight. It shines and it stinks." First serial to George.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Susan Bumbalo on October 26, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed this breezy, humorous book. It's not great (as some of the reviewers apparently require), but it certainly is good. Weld displayed a witty, sly sense of humor and told a good story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 16, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Thirtyish Terrence Mullaly is forced to flee from his job as an Assistant DA in the federal prosecutor's office in Brooklyn when some undercover sting turns out to be, at best, questionable. He flees to a private law firm in Boston where to his own shock he is being courted to run against the incumbent DA. He isstunned when he learns that he wins.
Though he knows his own past is not clean, Terrence begins to court the power mongers of the city as he begins to think about the senate. Truth becomes an inconvenience that he shatters when it gets in the way of a good sound bite. However, Terrence is going to learn that when your past is as shaky as his is, it can still return to haunt you; in this case very perilously.
Senator Jesse Helms, not known as a patron of the arts (at least those sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts) has given the political mystery sub-genre a lift when he kept William F. Weld inside the country. MACKERL BY MIDNIGHT is ! ! an honest account of the political world, mostly viewed through the eyes of a Brooklyn cynic. The crisp and often times witty story line moves forward to the beat that corruption is as American as apple pie. Hopefully, Mr. Weld will continue to stay out of Mexico in order to write more tales starring Mullaly, a realistic figure of the naughty nineties.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on November 22, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Terrence Mullaly is the antihero of ex-Governor William Weld's surprisingly cynical political thriller. When Mullaly hotfoots it out of Brooklyn and his assistant DA's job, he settles in Boston working big buck criminal defense cases. Much to his surprise, he is recruited to run against the incumbent DA and actually wins. Suddenly, a seat in the Senate and life with the blue bloods seem to be within reach, but then his crooked past catches up with him.
Weld is trying awfully hard to be funny here and the effort shows. Hopefully in future efforts he'll relax a little and ease up on the snappy banter and wisecracks. As is, he's produced a passable first novel that you can finish on a three hour plane ride, no sweat. But don't expect much of it to stick. It's sort of Primary Colors by way of Mickey Spillane.
GRADE: C
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Milliorn on February 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
It is indeed unfortunate that Gov. Weld has already quit his day job. I doubt that his future lies in writing novels.
There was never much doubt about who the murderer was, just as there was little doubt about the outcome of the political races.
While I have visited Boston several times, I don't feel qualified to comment on the political stereotypes in the novel past the point of saying that if true, Boston is still in the 19th century. If the novel is accurate about politics in Massachusetts, I cannot see how Gov. Weld was ever elected.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Yaakov (James) Mosher on July 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Former Massachusetts Gov. William F. "Bill" Weld combines lawyerly sophistication with street smarts in a highly readable political comedy/thriller that prolongs a death mystery until the very last page.
Weld's writing is pithy and punchy. Why he choose to narrate the story through eyes of a smarmy Irish-American lawyer escapes me. Perhaps Weld is needling all those Irish politicians he had to put with during his time in Boston's State House. Maybe Weld is slightly ashamed of being a Yankee (he shouldn't be). Whatever the case -- as protagonist Terry Mullally Jr. might say -- it works.
Weld doesn't delve into why his main character or any character would want to give up a mostly honest job with a good salary and private life to take ostensibly less money as a mostly dishonest politician. Perhaps the answer lies in the quest for adoration that Terry and real-life pols found lacking in their upbringings. Maybe part of the answer is Terry's love of people living in the present, making him anxious to keep moving and creating ever new "presents" in seemingly rapid succession.
Most people find politicial campaigning undignified yet it goes on, growing ever more outrageous and expensive. There is something sick about this, a sickness in the heart of America. Hopefully, Weld will courageously take on this phenomenon in greater depth in a future work.
Weld's ample sense of humor and love of the outdoors are on display. Names have been changed to protect the less-than-innocent -- The Boston Globe newspaper is known as "The Daily Mail," while The Boston Herald is renamed "The Gazette." The Lowell Sun is humorously called "The Moon." The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune is referred to as "The Hawk.
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