The year is 1916. War rages in Europe while Patrick Kelly, a young patrolman in the Jersey City Police Department, has battles of his own to fight. He dreams of heroic exploits, little knowing how the old grudge between his father and Frank Hague, Patrick's boss, will ruin his plans, or how his love for Claire Connolly, a beautiful chorus girl, will change his life. Least of all does he see the spectre of Black Tom. Despite America's neutrality in the war, U.S. manufacturers are engaged in making and selling to the Allies an enormous amount of arms of all kinds. Before these weapons are loaded onto ships and sent across the Atlantic, they are stored at Black Tom Island in Jersey City, a munitions depot projecting into New York Harbor just behind the Statue of Liberty. On July 30, 1916, a massive explosion shakes the harbor, a blast so tremendous it's felt in Philadelphia and Baltimore. German agents have sabotaged the munitions depot, with its huge store of shrapnel shells, rifle cartridges, gunpowder and other ammunition and explosives, turning it into an inferno. The cataclysm rocks Jersey City, Manhattan, and Brooklyn to the core, terrifying residents, causing staggering destruction, and resulting in death and injury. Down at Black Tom, Patrick's opportunity for heroism has arrived, but at what terrible cost? Black Tom is a novel rich in historical detail, a vivid portrait of Jersey City and New York City in the years before the U.S. entered the Great War. It is a love story and a tale of local politics and international espionage.
About the Author
I was born in Jersey City and grew up listening to my father's stories about Black Tom. He was also born in Jersey City, and was five years old on the night Black Tom was blown up--old enough to remember the disaster. These stories inspired me to write a novel based on the sabotage of the munitions depot in New York Harbor one hundred years ago. Not only did I find the history fascinating, but I discovered that few people seemed to know about this cataclysmic event. I hold a B.A. from Saint Peter's College and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, both in English, a subject I taught full-time at Stockton University, Rutgers University, and Vassar College. I'm also the author of DEAR JANE AUSTEN: A HEROINE'S GUIDE TO LIFE AND LOVE (Plume) and 101 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT JANE AUSTEN (Adams Media), winner of the JANE AUSTEN'S REGENCY WORLD award, presented by the Jane Austen Centre in Bath.