cover image Storm Tide

Storm Tide

Marge Piercy, Ira Wood. Fawcett Books, $25 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-449-00166-0

Incendiary small-town politics and lethally tangled passions are the focus of this clunky, bloodless collaborative effort from two authors who have each produced better solo work. Piercy (City of Darkness, City of Light) and her husband, Wood (Going Public), have created an irresolute protagonist in David Greene, once a local baseball legend who has now returned to the Cape Cod hamlet of Saltash in disgrace, leaving behind a failed minor league career and a broken marriage. His prospects are dim until he begins an unlikely affair with Judith Silver, a beautiful, talented lawyer whose husband, the eminent professor Gordon Stone, owns an eclectic island compound and is the town's leading progressive politico. Not only does Gordon condone the affair, he joins Judith in persuading David to run for a key seat on the board of selectmen. Their opposition is led by Johnny Lynch, an old-fashioned political boss who has controlled the town for decades. Since David is a congenital pawn with an overactive libido, he can't resist further complicating his situation by also having an affair with desperate, volatile Crystal Sinclair, who works for Lynch; and these oddly lifeless sexual complications combine with meteorological disaster for a predictably bad end. The authors aim for a tale of consuming political and romantic passions with David at its center, but his character is too weak (and the supporting players are too wooden) to execute this tricky game plan. Histrionics aside, the novel does succeed on a lesser scale in its perceptive, stinging depiction of a parochial seaside resort, but this feat is not enough to redeem the air of somnambulance that surrounds its scheming cast. (June)