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Back Bay (Peter Fallon #1)

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,505 Ratings  ·  159 Reviews

The powerful Pratts have searched for generations for a lost family possessiona breathtaking Paul Revere treasure. A centuries-spanning tale of romance, greed, lust, and murder reissued to tie-in with the paperback release of Martin's latest bestseller Cape Cod, featured above.

Hardcover, 437 pages
Published December 12th 1988 by Crown (first published 1979)
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Peter de Puy I believe you can. Or, at least I have. Each story stands on its own, but what you might miss out on are any references to his personal history of…moreI believe you can. Or, at least I have. Each story stands on its own, but what you might miss out on are any references to his personal history of events from other books. Not a show-stopper for you, the reader, but having just finished Back Bay, the first of the Peter Fallon suite, I would venture to say that if it's not too late, read Back Bay first. You won't be disappointed. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Jan 10, 2009 Krista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have enjoyed all of William Martin's books, because there is a well-researched historical component that unfolds in parallel with a related current story. It's like unraveling a mystery along with the characters. And the stories are distinct; he's not just writing the same formula over and over. He's one of the authors that I look for in a bookstore, hoping there is something new on the shelf that I haven't read yet.
I love Boston, and I love reading books set in Boston. But despite all the references to my favorite city, this book was too unrealistic and ridiculous for me to really enjoy it.

Peter Fallon is a Harvard PhD student, struggling to finish his dissertation. While researching his topic, he gets drawn into the mystery of a Paul Revere tea set, missing for over 150 years. As he attempts to find the tea set, its long history stretching back to 1789 is slowly revealed.

There were things I really liked
I first read this book when it came out, and I remember enjoying it thoroughly. When this year's Brookline Reads list appeared, it was one of several choices and the only one available at the library at the time, so I reread it. Perhaps it's just that I'm not as fond of the long family tales that stretch over several centuries, but while I found the quasi-historical part interesting, I thought the story itself was contrived and the writing uninspired. I guess sometimes you really can't go home a ...more
Aug 23, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Martin introduces the reader to the Pratts; a family steeped in history who hold a deep secret that traces back to the time of George Washington. After being given aa Paul Revere silver tea set, Washington promises to keep it on display in the White House, much to the chagrin of one Horace Taylor Pratt, Massachusetts Founding Father. After the tea set is stolen from the Madison White House during the War of 1812, Pratt seeks to secure its ownership through a number of negotiations and keep the p ...more
Benjamin Thomas
I had read three or four stand-alone books by William Martin and enjoyed them all so I thought it was high time I began reading his Peter Fallon series. Back Bay is actually the first novel he published, more than 30 years ago. And, as expected, I enjoyed it very much.

This is a complex story that weaves historical events with a contemporary thriller/mystery-type plot. Peter Fallon is a present day student/historian working on his PhD and becomes entangled in a 200 year old mystery concerning a s
Apr 30, 2016 Melinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2016
Historian Peter Fallon is searching through some old documents when he uncovers references to a Paul Revere tea pot, a gift to George Washington, that has been missing since 1812. It is rumored that the wealthy Pratt family had something to do with its disappearance. Befriending the family matriarch, Fallon races against time to discover the Golden Eagle's hiding place. This is my first Martin novel and hopefully not my last. What a story teller! Loved how the chapters alternate between past and ...more
Dec 19, 2013 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not an in depth review. Overall, a good story with an unsatisfying ending. I believe this is the author's first book in the Peter Fallon series. It is a good alternate historical fiction/mystery yarn. It was also pretty long. It could have used some editing. The author leads you along, so there are really no jaw dropping reveals. I will read some more these books, as they are a fast fun read. If you need something light and fun (think Dan Brown meets National Treasure) this is good start ...more
Jean Silverio
Mar 28, 2017 Jean Silverio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Back Bay. I am a Boston girl born and bred and educated. I learned a lot about Boston and I enjoy the format of past and present.
Peter de Puy
Sep 24, 2016 Peter de Puy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a tale! William Martin takes us on a tour of American History beginning in 1789 when, in Boston, a Paul Revere silver tea set is presented to His Excellency, President George Washington, during his visit to the city, but at the protest of one Horace Taylor Pratt, Revolutionary War veteran. In 1814, the silver tea set mysteriously disappears from the presidential mansion during the British assault on the swampy and young US capitol and becomes the kernel of a suspenseful tale of the multi-th ...more
India Turner
I enjoyed reading this book most of the way through. I thought it was very interesting and creative because there is a well-researched historical component that unfolds in parallel with a related current story. It's like unraveling a mystery along with the characters. Also, I love the city of Boston and he took the time to study the streets and what it's actually like to be there. The history of Boston was very captivating as well as picturing the differences between the various time periods in ...more
Alex Luhtjarv
Mixed review on this one. I love historical fiction and anything Boston-themed. However, I kept falling in...and then...out of love with this book. I found the War of 1812 era sections intriguing and enjoyed the Evangeline subplot, but then all of the other circuitous subplots got added and it felt like the book kept starting and stopping and taking random detours here and there. The overall story was worthy, but I did get stuck in places, especially the Rule family history there with the labor ...more
Plus side: loved reading the Boston history and picturing the differences between the various time periods in the book, as well as now [the book was written over 30 years ago]. Minus side: completely unbelievable ending, and a confusing cast of characters (many of whom have the same name, since this is about a dynastic family). I had to get a later edition of the book from a different library, since the original edition I had did not include the helpful family tree. But even the family tree is l ...more
Apr 20, 2011 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard the author on a radio interview. Thought I try his first novel.
Loved the way he weaved the story back and forth between the past from the 1780's through the 1950's) and the present.
Loose ends all tied up nicely.
But....the ending was a little disappointing for me. Why? boom-boom, it's over, done. With the build up I had expected more.
Will I read any of his other books?
He did say in the interview that he has gotten to be a better story teller over the years.
So yes, I will read his other bo
Jul 12, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am really loving this book! I am already half through it & just started it tonight!! It's about a prominent New England family who holds the secret to a missing Paul Revere treasure. I was surprised to find out this book was published in 1979..long before all the other books of a similar genre. It's hard to put down! Can't wait to read the rest of the series!

Read this book in 2 days & loved it! Can't wait to read the next in the series, Harvard Yard. I had a hard time putting this one
Dec 26, 2012 Deb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saw William Martin interviewed by Emily Rooney. The interview was quite interesting and you couldn't help but like W.M. He writes historical novels and researches the history for each book for 2 or more years. This book is 500+ pages which actually went by fast. It was interesting reading the history of the Back Bay and facts about filling in wetlands to make land for building in the Back Bay. I enjoyed the book; however, I thought the ending was a bit disappointing given the intensity of the bo ...more
I really enjoy historical novels/fiction, ala Steve Berry. I enjoy stories that weave actual historical people and events into a tale of fiction and, with that being said, I enoyed "Back Bay" by William Martin. What I didn't like (which nearly ruined the entire book for me) was the abrupt and completely unrealistic end to the novel. It seemed like the author got tired of the story and simply decided to end it as quickly as possible. Since this is Martin's first book and was released in 1979, I c ...more
Robert Melnyk
This was a fairly interesting book, with a good story line, and interesting ties to history. At times it was a bit hard to follow because of the number of characters to keep track of and the way it bounded back and forth in time. But it held my interest and was an enjoyable read. My main problem with it was that I thought the ending was incredibly lame. I will not go into details so as not to spoil it for anyone interested in reading it, but...the ending was lame!
Jan 24, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the storyline and characters, and I learned enough about the growth of the city of Boston to want to visit someday. I must admit that I was very disappointed in the ending. While I do not believe that every book must have a tidy ending, I felt that the author just avoided making a decision about how it should end.
Sep 30, 2008 Gary rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just never liked the main characters nor thought much of the author's writing style. I didn't get caught up in the plot nor did I think it dug into early-american history or culture despite having the perfect opportunity to do so. I know this was a best seller, but it just didn't work for me...
Sep 24, 2013 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this well over 20 years ago and to this day I think of it. Plus it gave me the knowledge I needed to impress my kids with how much I know about how the city of Boston was formed out of mud and muck.
Nov 04, 2016 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I enjoyed the story. However, the ending just frustrated me. It did not give me the closure I was looking for. It was like getting to the top of a roller coaster and then coasting down a two foot incline instead of the fifty foot drop you were expecting.
Cara Mcnulty
Mar 23, 2016 Cara Mcnulty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great family saga of the Pratt family starting in 1814 Boston combined with the mystery of what happened to "The Golden Eagle Tea Set"-31 pieces of flawless silver created by Paul Revere and presented to the White House in perpetuity by Washington.
Ray Daniel
Dec 27, 2015 Ray Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Boston, Boston's history, and William Martin's writing. This book was the trifecta. Wonderful!
Sep 14, 2016 Grommit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really, really cool...very interesting to read the history of Boston buried inside an interesting story. The book encouraged me to plow through maps, histories, and tours.
Barbara M
I love getting my history lesson from fiction! This was great.
Jan 24, 2016 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was ok. It was like he tried too hard and it felt forced. But I will read his next one to see if he gets any better. Whatever happened to those great Michener books?
Jun 23, 2012 Alberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed all the historical references about famous people and places in and around Boston.
Shelley Alongi
Jun 29, 2017 Shelley Alongi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's definitely one of a certain flavor where the impossible becomes possible. I think I'm too real sometimes. Why wouldn't they get so much attention digging up the subway station? But then rail crews do their work at night so who's to say that a construction crew couldn't do the same. It would be entirely impossible to dig up a subway station at night. I like how he writes part of the story in flashback and part of it in the present. I think I will try some of this technique in my own writing. ...more
Sep 17, 2016 S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly annoying ending! Not a cliffhanger, just felt unfinished.
Nov 03, 2009 Eric rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction fans
Recommended to Eric by: Lynda Kamerling
Back Bay alternates between a modern-day plot and a historical plot that starts in the 1800's and carries through time as the book gets nearer to the conclusion. I found this extremely frustrating, as every time I found myself getting drawn into the book, it toggled back to the historical plot-line. It made it way too easy to put the book down, especially at the beginning of the historical chapters, and hard to pick it back up. I finally sat down and forced myself to finish it over the course of ...more
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William Martin is a New York Times bestselling author of nine novels. He is best known for his historical fiction, which has chronicled the lives of the great and the anonymous in American history while bringing to life legendary American locations, from Cape Cod to Annapolis. He has also written an award-winning PBS documentary, one of the cheesiest horror movies ever made, magazine articles, and ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Peter Fallon (5 books)
  • Harvard Yard (Peter Fallon, #2)
  • The Lost Constitution (Peter Fallon, #3)
  • City of Dreams (Peter Fallon, #4)
  • The Lincoln Letter (Peter Fallon, #5)

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