Close to the Bone (Brady Coyne Series #14)

Close to the Bone (Brady Coyne Series #14)

by William G. Tapply

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When a troubled friend disappears offshore, Boston lawyer Brady Coyne suspects foul play in “another winning entry in [this] very satisfying series” (Publishers Weekly).
 Although alleged criminals are considered innocent until proven guilty, acquittal doesn’t make them saints. Boston lawyer Brady Coyne knows this all too well, but believes firmly enough in the right to counsel that he doesn’t let it keep him up at night. His friend Paul Cizek, however, is another story. A rising young defense lawyer, Paul has made a name defending repugnant clients: hit men, child molesters, unrepentant drunk drivers. He’s good at what he does—so good that it’s eating him alive.
After an emotional confession to Brady, Paul takes his boat out onto the Merrimack River in the middle of a storm. When the coast guard finds the vessel, the lawyer has vanished. Did he die in an accident, or did the stress of his work convince him to end it all? Brady suspects murder, and he will do whatever it takes to understand how his friend died. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480436282
Publisher: Road
Publication date: 08/06/2013
Series: Brady Coyne Series , #14
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 430,787
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

William G. Tapply (1940–2009) was an American author best known for writing legal thrillers. A lifelong New Englander, he graduated from Amherst and Harvard before going on to teach social studies at Lexington High School. He published his first novel, Death at Charity’s Point, in 1984. A story of death and betrayal among Boston Brahmins, it introduced crusading lawyer Brady Coyne, a fishing enthusiast whom Tapply would follow through twenty-five more novels, including Follow the Sharks, The Vulgar Boatman, and the posthumously published Outwitting Trolls.
Besides writing regular columns for Field and Stream, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and American Angler, Tapply wrote numerous books on fishing, hunting, and life in the outdoors. He was also the author of The Elements of Mystery Fiction, a writer’s guide. He died in 2009, at his home in Hancock, New Hampshire.  
William G. Tapply (1940–2009) was an American author best known for writing legal thrillers. A lifelong New Englander, he graduated from Amherst and Harvard before going on to teach social studies at Lexington High School. He published his first novel, Death at Charity’s Point, in 1984. A story of death and betrayal among Boston Brahmins, it introduced crusading lawyer Brady Coyne, a fishing enthusiast whom Tapply would follow through twenty-five more novels, including Follow the Sharks, The Vulgar Boatman, and the posthumously published Outwitting Trolls.

Besides writing regular columns for Field and Stream, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and American Angler, Tapply wrote numerous books on fishing, hunting, and life in the outdoors. He was also the author of The Elements of Mystery Fiction, a writer’s guide. He died in 2009, at his home in Hancock, New Hampshire.  

Read an Excerpt

Close to the Bone

A Brady Coyne Mystery

By William G. Tapply


Copyright © 1996 William G. Tapply
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-3628-2


Julie keeps telling me I'll never be a proper lawyer if I keep driving out to the suburbs to meet my clients at their homes whenever they request it. The clients, she maintains, are supposed to come to the lawyer's office in the city. They should make appointments, preferably weeks ahead of time because, according to Julie, any lawyer who can see a client at a moment's notice can't be very busy, and if he's not very busy he can't be much good, and if he's not much good then clients will not be inclined to make appointments with him in the first place. When it's done properly, says Julie, the clients who appear in their lawyer's office at their appointed time should be kept waiting while the lawyer accrues billable hours with another client, who has also been kept waiting.

Julie is probably a better legal secretary than I am a lawyer. I know that if I listened to her I'd accrue more billable hours, which is how Julie measures the success of a law practice.

So when Roger Falconer called on a gray Tuesday afternoon in November and said he needed to confer with me immediately, I said, "I've got an opening at four-thirty, Roger," as Julie had trained me to do.

My heart wasn't in it, of course. Roger Falconer, I knew, simply didn't sit in the waiting rooms of lawyers or doctors—or governors or senators or the CEOs of multinational corporations, either.

Hell, Roger Falconer had been the CEO of a multinational corporation before he retired. Back in the sixties and early seventies he had also been the state attorney general and the Republican candidate for governor and, apparently encouraged by losing that one, for United States senator. He lost that election, too, but, as he liked to point out, what could a Republican expect in Massachusetts, the only state that failed to cast its electoral votes for Nixon in 1972?

In fact, a lot of people who courted Roger's influence or money, or both, still called him "Senator," and he didn't bother to correct them.

I called him Roger. He didn't try to correct me, either.

"Four-thirty, huh?" he said. "Your last appointment of the day?"

"Uh huh." I knew what was coming, and I was helpless to avoid it.

"You should be able to be here by five-thirty, then," he said.

I sighed. "Sure, Roger. I guess I can be there around five-thirty. What's up?"

"A matter of utmost gravity, I'm afraid. I'd rather not discuss it over the phone, Brady."

When I slipped into my trench coat and headed out of the office a few minutes after four-thirty, Julie arched her eyebrows from behind her computer monitor.

"I'm off to see Roger Falconer," I said. "I've got to be there at five-thirty, and I don't need any shit about which of us is the mountain and which is Mahomet. It's a matter of utmost gravity."

"I didn't say anything," she said.

"Yeah, but I know what you're thinking."

She flashed her pretty blue-eyed Irish smile. "Utmost gravity? Did you actually say that?"

"Roger's words."

"Hey," she said with an elaborate shrug. "It's your law practice. If you want to go traipsing around the countryside at the summons of doddering old political has-beens, why should I care?"

"You should care, of course. That's your job. And I'm glad I've got you to do it."

"I don't see why the old poop can't come to the office like everyone else."

"Well, he won't. If I didn't go to him, he'd just get himself another lawyer." I bent and kissed her cheek. "I'll fill you in tomorrow."

It took over an hour to negotiate the rush-hour traffic from Copley Square, out Storrow Drive onto Route 2 and thence to Lincoln. I turned onto Route 126—Thoreau had called it "the Walden road"— and drove past the pond and the acres of fields and forests that the Lincoln town fathers and mothers have preserved from development so that folks like Roger Falconer can live thoroughly insulated from the riffraff.

Roger's long driveway wound through the dark oak and pine woods, past the tennis court and the swimming pool and the putting green, and ended in a turnaround in front of his big, square Federal-period colonial. Floodlights mounted under the eaves lit the flower gardens and the lawn, now mostly frost-killed and brown and littered with dead leaves. Orange lights glowed from every window.

A little white two-seater Mercedes convertible was parked behind a gunmetal gray Range Rover. I pulled in at the end of the line and got out of my car. A northeast wind hissed through the pine trees and rattled the clumps of dried leaves in the oaks. It felt damp and chilly on my face. It would bring freezing rain or wet snow. In November it could go either way. I climbed the front steps and rang the bell. A minute later the door swung open and a youngish woman I didn't recognize greeted me with a frown.

She wore a dark blue wool dress with a high neck and a low hem, just a touch of eye shadow and lip gloss, and no jewelry except for a diamond the size of a Brazil nut on her left hand, the hand that was holding a can of Coke. A slim blonde, pretty in a cool, brittle, elegantly fashionable way, early thirties, I guessed. "You are ...?" she said.

"Brady Coyne," I said. "I have an appointment with Roger. And you?"


"We haven't met," I said.

"I'm sorry." She tried on a smile that didn't quite make it up to her eyes. "Brenda Falconer. I'm the Senator's daughter-in-law." She lifted her Coke and took a quick, nervous sip.

"Glen's wife?" I said.

"Yes." She smiled again, and it worked better this time. "That, too." She extended her hand and allowed me to touch it for a moment. Then she turned. "They're in the library," she said over her shoulder. "This way."

I followed her down the wide center hallway and through a living room full of clunky old antique furniture and decorated with dark portraits of clunky old men. We stopped outside the open doorway to Roger's library, which was a room as big as my entire apartment. At the far end a brace of golden retrievers—Abe and Ike, named after Roger's political heroes—slept on the hearth by a blazing fieldstone fireplace. The walls were lined floor to ceiling with old leather-bound volumes. Rolltop desks and oak tables and leather sofas and armchairs were scattered about, and seated in two of the armchairs were Roger Falconer and his son, Glen. They were studying the fire, apparently ignoring each other.

Brenda cleared her throat and the two men looked up. "Ah, Brady," said Roger. "Come, sit. Brenda, dear, get Brady a drink."

"I can get my own drink," I said to her.

She shook her head. "It's okay. Really. What would you like?"

"I'll have what you're having," I said to her. "Thanks."

She left the room and I went over to where Roger and Glen were sitting. Empty highball glasses rested on the table between them. Roger didn't bother rising as we shook hands. He was almost completely bald now, and I knew he was closing in on eighty, but he still could've passed for the man who had run for the Senate back in the early seventies. His pale eyes glittered with enthusiasm and conspiracy, and his grip was strong. "You remember Glen?" he said.

"Sure." I held out my hand to the younger man. "How are you?"

"Not that good, actually," Glen said. He stood to shake hands with me. He was several inches taller than my six feet, and his face was longer and more angular than his father's. His sandy hair had receded perceptibly since the last time I had seen him, which had been a few years earlier.

After we sat down, Glen leaned toward me. "Look—"

"Brady," interrupted Roger, "we have a problem."

"I figured," I said. "A matter of utmost gravity, I think you called it. Sounds like a problem to me."

"A week and a half ago," he said, "Glen had an automobile accident. He, um, there was a collision with another vehicle."

"Who hit whom?" I said, addressing my question to Glen.

But it was Roger who answered. "He hit them."


"There were two passengers in the other car," said Roger. "A woman and her four-year-old boy."

He paused, gazing at me with his eyebrows arched behind his steel-rimmed glasses, waiting for me to figure it out. I did, but I said nothing.

There was a discreet rap at the door, and then Brenda came in. She handed me a glass of Coke rattling with ice cubes. I looked up at her. "Thanks," I said.

She nodded. "You're welcome." She stood there, looking from Roger to Glen.

"Thank you, my dear," said Roger with a nod, dismissing her.

Her eyes flickered and met mine for a moment before she turned and left the room. The door latched softly behind her.

"Your wife isn't included in this matter, huh?" I said to Glen.

"Family business," said Roger, who apparently did not consider wives to be members of his family.

I shrugged and took a sip of Coke.

"The woman was seriously injured in the collision," Roger said. He cleared his throat. "She died this morning."

"Right," I said. "And Glen was drunk."

Roger nodded.

"And they're going to charge him."

"Yes. Vehicular homicide, DUI."

"What about the little boy?"

"He was in a car seat. He's okay."

"Lucky," I said.

Roger nodded. "I guess so."

"I don't do these kinds of cases," I said.

"I know," said Roger. "But you're my lawyer."

"Did you take a Breathalyzer?" I said to Glen.

He nodded. "I flunked. My license was suspended."

"But you weren't charged?"

"No. Not then." He glanced at his father.

"I took care of it," said Roger. "But now, with the woman, ah, failing to survive ..."

"You can't take care of this," I said.

Roger shook his head. "We need a good lawyer."

"You need a miracle."

Glen leaned toward me. "Listen, Brady—"

"Shut up," said Roger conversationally. "Brady's right, and if it weren't our family's name that the newspapers will be plastering all over the front page, I'd leave you out there twisting in the wind." He turned to me. "Do you know any miracle workers?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact."


"I'll talk to him."

"I'd rather—"

"Do you want me to handle it, Roger?"

"I do."

"Good. I will handle it." I drained my Coke and stood up. "That's it, then. I'll be in touch with you."

Roger looked up at me. "Brady," he said, "it's—"

"I know. A matter of utmost gravity. I'll call you tomorrow."

He pushed himself out of his chair. Glen started to stand, but Roger said, "I'll see Brady out," and Glen sat down again.

I held out my hand to Glen. "Good luck," I said.

He shrugged and we shook. "Thanks."

Roger followed me back through the living room to the front door. I didn't see Brenda. I put my coat on and opened the door. "He doesn't seem that contrite," I said.

"My son is an alcoholic," said Roger, as if that explained everything.

"It's hard to be sympathetic."

Roger nodded. "He's looking at prison time, isn't he?"

"Sounds like it."

"How much?"

"Not enough," I said.


Alexandria shaw was waiting for me when I got to my apartment a little after seven-thirty. Her feet were bare and she was wearing a pair of my sweatpants and one of my raggedy old Yale T-shirts, and she was curled in the corner of the sofa prodding at her scalp with the business end of a pencil and frowning through her big round glasses at a yellow legal pad. My old black-and-white television was tuned to Jeopardy, but Alex didn't seem to be watching it.

I went over and kissed the back of her neck. "I didn't have a chance to call," I said. "I was hoping you'd be here."

"Gimme a minute, sweetie," she mumbled.

"Working on a story?"


I threw my trench coat over the back of a chair, followed my nose into the kitchen, and lifted the lid off the pot that was simmering on the stove. I took a sniff, then went back into the living room. "Lentils, huh?" I said.

She looked up, poked her glasses up onto the bridge of her nose with her forefinger, and smiled. "Lentils are very good for you."

"You don't mind if I add some hot sausages, do you?"

"Hot sausages taste good," she said. "An unbeatable combination, lentils and sausages. Something that tastes good to neutralize something that's good for you. I brought garlic bread and salad stuff, too, if you want to throw it together."

In the refrigerator there were half a dozen Italian sausages that I had grilled a couple of days earlier. I cut them into bite-sized chunks and added them to Alex's lentil soup. I tossed a green salad in a wooden bowl and put the loaf of garlic bread into the oven and set it for "warm." Then I poured two fingers of Rebel Yell over a glass of ice cubes. I took the glass into the bedroom, where I climbed out of my suit and into a pair of jeans and a flannel shirt.

When I returned to the living room, Alex was sipping from a bottle of Samuel Adams lager and watching the television. I paused in the doorway and gazed at her sprawled on my sofa, dressed in my baggy old sweatpants, with a pencil stuck over her ear and her glasses slipped down toward the end of her nose. She looked incredibly sexy.

I'd met her in May. Within a few weeks we were exchanging "sleepovers," and on Labor Day weekend we'd exchanged house keys. During my entire ten years of divorced bachelorhood, I'd never done anything like that.

Oh, we kept our separate apartments—hers on Marlborough Street in Back Bay and mine in the high-rise overlooking Boston Harbor.

We did not quite concede that we were living together. But that's about what it amounted to.

It should have felt strange and stressful to a man who'd been alone for a decade and had conscientiously avoided making any commitments to a woman in that time. But it didn't. With Alex, it felt natural and logical.

"Macedonia," she called out suddenly.

"What is Macedonia," I corrected. "You've got to give the question."

She nodded without taking her eyes from the television, and a moment later she said, "Carthage! What is Carthage, I mean."

I slumped onto the sofa beside her. She leaned her cheek toward me and I gave her a loud, wet kiss.

"Mmm," she said. "Nice."

"How're you doing?"

"I've gotten practically all of them right so far."

"Good. That's not what I meant."

"Oh. Like, how was my day?"

"Like that, yes."

"Turn that thing off, will you?"

"Gladly." I reached over and snapped off the television. Then I slumped back on the sofa.

Alex wiggled against me and laid her cheek on my shoulder. "Wanna start again?"

"Sure," I said. I turned, touched her hair, and kissed her softly on the lips. "How was your day?" I said.

"Good. Fine." She nuzzled my throat. "Had an interview with the governor. If you think stories about the implications of Massachusetts converting to a graduated state income tax are exciting, I had a helluva day."

"If anyone can make those stories exciting, you can," I said.

"Yes, I can," she said. "How're you?"

I blew out a long sigh. "It was okay until the end. Sometimes I feel like a goddamn glorified butler for all the self-important old farts who are my clients. I had to drive all the way out to Lincoln at four-thirty for a conversation that would've taken ten minutes on the telephone because Roger Falconer doesn't make office visits and thinks his business is too fucking grave to conduct on the telephone. 'A matter of the utmost gravity.' That's what he called it. So instead of getting home at five-thirty, it's, what, nearly eight?"

"Almost eight, yes," she said softly. "I thought you liked your clients."

I nodded. "Oh, I do. I don't accept clients I don't like. But some of them can be pretty damn self-important. Sometimes it gets to me.

Whatever happened to the guy who was going to argue civil liberties cases before the Supreme Court?"

"Your career took a different turn, Brady. You do what you do, and you're very good at it, and you're your own boss, and it makes you a lot of money. There are worse things."

I sipped from my drink. "There are better things, too. I mean, Billy's out there in Idaho, a ski instructor in the winter and a trout fishing guide in the summer and a bartender in his spare time. I'd like to do that."

"Your son is a twenty-one-year-old college dropout," she said. "You're not."

"No," I said. "Not even close. There are times I wish I was, though. I'd like to drop out and head for the Rockies, even if I'm not twenty-one."


Excerpted from Close to the Bone by William G. Tapply. Copyright © 1996 William G. Tapply. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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