Wavemaker II

National best-seller Wavemaker II is a heart-stopping story of what happens when one man takes a fall for another, leaving his family in disarray.

Called “succinct and completely unsentimental” by Time Out New York, Mary-Beth Hughes’s novel is flawlessly executed, full of rich, nuanced characters and sensuous detail.

It is the summer of 1964 when Hughes drops us into the splintering world of the Clemens family, poised for collapse when Will Clemens is sent to prison for refusing in court to rat on the notorious McCarthy-era lawyer Roy Cohn. Wavemaker II, which zigzags between a quiet, suburban beach community and the  extravagant high-rise frenzy of New York City, is brilliantly told through the points of view of each family member: lovely Kay, who tries to keep a grip on her deteriorating family; heart-wrenching little Bo, who is battling cancer; burgeoning adolescent Lou-Lou, who aches for her mother’s lost attention; and beguiling Will, who, with a tired strength, ushers us through spectacular prison scenes. Finally, there is Roy Cohn, who has become the family’s shadowy protector in gratitude for Will’s loyalty.

Charged with an exquisite tension that is riveting clear through to its denouement aboard the titular Wavemaker II, the novel is a masterpiece of page-turning suspense.


A New York Times Notable Book 2002
Book Sense 76 Selection

“A brave and deeply moving first novel.”
— Lorrie Moore
“A composed work of fiction . . . elegantly constructed . . . Hughes [is] an accomplished hand at short fiction.”
— Chris Lehmann, The Washington Post
“Hughes is a writer of dexterity and imagination, with a great feel for sensory images. . . . [Hughes] guides us into a skillfully charted plot about the complex nature of loyalty, letting the story’s point of view float from one character to the next.”
— Beverly Lowry, The New York Times Book Review