Picks and Pans Review: Mackerel by Moonlight

updated 09/07/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/07/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by William F. Weld

"All politics is local," longtime Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill famously said. William F. Weld, the former two-term governor of O'Neill's home state of Massachusetts, proves the point in his first foray into fiction—a blisteringly funny suspense tale that gives the local political scene a good going-over. A moderate Republican (pro-choice and gun control), Weld knows well how the game is played. His nomination as ambassador to Mexico had to be withdrawn last year after Senate conservatives vehemently opposed it.

Weld's hero-narrator Terry Mullally—a former assistant district attorney now an extremely lucky criminal defense lawyer—unspools a yarn about his meteoric rise to the U.S. Senate. Described by an opponent as "a well-balanced Irishman, with a big chip on each shoulder," Mullally may have his eye on the prize, but his ethics are on hold. His golden rule: "Once you say anything in public, you diminish your flexibility." On the campaign trail, everyone's hands get dirty. Secrets (and bodies) are buried, only to rise again with devastating—and surprising—results. (Simon & Schuster, $23)

Bottom Line: As much blarney as beef, but still a tasty meal

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