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BACK BAY 498 [Hardcover]

William Martin
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 12 1988
Meet the Pratt clas. Driven men. Determined women. Through six turbulent generations, they would pursue a lost Paul Revere treasure. And turn a family secret into an obsession that could destroy them. Here is the novel that launched William Martin's astonishing literary career and became an instant bestseller. From the grit and romance of old Boston to exclusive -- and dangerous -- Back Bay today, this sweeping saga paints an unforgettable portrait of a powerful dynasty beset by the forces of history...and a heritage of greed, lust, murder and betrayal.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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

"Spellbinding...Ingenious."—Cincinnati Enquirer

"Marvelous...captures the reader from page on and holds to the explosive ending."—King Features Syndicate

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.—Publishers 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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

William Martin is theNew York Timesbestselling 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 theNew York Timesbestseller 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, includingCapeCod, Annapolis, City of Dreams, andThe Lincoln Letter, have established him as "a storyteller whose smootness 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." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars From Southie to Brahman Sept. 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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5.0 out of 5 stars The test of time 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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5.0 out of 5 stars A great historical mystery Aug. 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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4.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly fun read! July 20 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you have never been to Boston you will like this book. If you have been or live in Boston, you will LOVE this book. The story is great and William Martin takes you on an adventure that keeps you turning the pages. The story of the Pratts and their search for a family treasure will make you think about your own family history and if there is a treasure to be had. I highly recommend this book. I have also read "Cape Cod" by William Martin and it is equally as fun. Killer beach reading
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favorites! May 20 1999
By A Customer
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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4.0 out of 5 stars a teapot in a tempest Sept. 21 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
a family saga told in parallel histories of the early 19th and the mid to late 20th centuries, spanning six generations. historic boston makes for a prominent backdrop for an elaborately plotted metropolitan treasure hunt doomed by a fatal curse. contrivances aside, an entertaining, nearly folkloric tale.
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