Dalton Lancaster could have been a lawyer, but his heart wasn’t in it. He quit Yale after his first year, and used his inheritance to go into the restaurant business, where he might have had some luck if he’d spent more time selling food and less time playing blackjack. As he gambled away his savings, restaurants, and family, his lawyer, Brady Coyne, stuck by him. So when Dalt is beaten up, but not robbed, by three mobsters, Brady can’t help but think his friend is gambling again. But Dalton says he has kicked his vice. The attack wasn’t a message to him—it was to his son.
Having inherited his father’s addiction, Robert is in even deeper trouble than his dad ever was. When he fails to square things with his creditors, he’s kidnapped, and Brady is forced to gamble on a long shot: that Robert Lancaster is still alive.
About the Author
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
A Brady Coyne Mystery
By William G. Tapply
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2007 William G. Tapply
All rights reserved.
June bugs and fireflies were flitting around in the walled-in garden behind our townhouse on Beacon Hill. Overhead, an almost-full moon and a skyful of stars lit up the Boston evening. Now and then a myopic moth would alight on the screen of our little portable TV, which was sitting on our picnic table.
Evie and I were slouching side by side in our comfortable wooden Adirondack chairs with sweaty bottles of Sam Adams in our hands, as we often did on a pleasant June evening when the Red Sox were playing. Henry David Thoreau sprawled on the bricks beside us, his legs occasionally twitching with dog dreams. Baseball put Henry to sleep. From our backyard we imagined that we'd heard the roar of the Fenway crowd all the way from Kenmore Square when David Ortiz hit one over the bullpen in the third inning.
At the end of the sixth inning, Evie yawned, stood up, stretched, and said she was exhausted. She kissed the back of my neck and stumbled into the house and up to bed. Evie enjoyed baseball. She liked the geometric symmetry of it and the occasional remarkable feat of athleticism, but she wasn't really a fan. She didn't care enough about who won, and she didn't understand the passionate neuroses of lifelong Red Sox addicts such as I, who had seen the home team squander so many late-inning leads over the years that we were never comfortable until after the final out. We knew there was always a Bucky Dent or a Bill Buckner lurking around the corner, waiting to break our hearts. The aberration of 2004 would never ease our apprehensions.
"It's only a game," Evie would point out while I clenched my fists on every pitch. "And besides, they play about two billion of them a year."
"It's not only a game," I would say. "It's life in a nutshell."
One inning and half a bottle of beer later the Sox were clinging to an uncomfortable 9-6 lead. The Orioles had runners on first and third with only one out when the phone rang.
We'd brought the portable kitchen phone outside with us, so I was able to grab it on the first ring, before the one beside our bed disturbed Evie, I hoped.
When I answered, a voice I didn't recognize said, "Mr. Coyne?"
"Yes," I said, "this is Brady Coyne, and it's almost eleven o'clock on a Tuesday night. You better not be trying to sell me something."
Henry, hearing the tone of my voice, sat up, yawned, and arched his eyebrows at me. I reached over and scratched his forehead.
"This is Robert Lancaster," said the guy on the phone. "I don't know if you remember me. I'm here with my father. Dalton Lancaster."
"We met once," I said. "You were about eight. Your parents were in the middle of a divorce. You and your dad and I had lunch together."
"That's right," he said. "That was about twelve years ago."
I waited, and when he didn't continue, I said, "So where's 'here'?"
"You said you were there with him."
"Oh. The emergency room at the New England Medical Center."
"Who's hurt?" I said. "You or Dad?"
"Him. My father."
"Is he okay?" I said.
"They say he's going to be all right. He wants to talk to you."
"So what happened?"
"He got beat up."
"I don't know. Three guys. He says he doesn't know who they were."
"Well, okay," I said, "put him on."
"He's wondering if you'd be able to meet with him."
"Sure. We can set something up."
"No," he said. "He means now."
"Listen," I said. "Whatever happened to your father, client or no client, it's late and I'm tired and I intend to watch the rest of the ball game and then crawl into bed with my girlfriend, who's waiting upstairs for me. Just put him on the phone and we'll set up an appointment."
"Thing is," said Robert Lancaster, "they jumped him in the parking lot, kicked him in the face, loosened a couple teeth, cut his tongue, banged up some ribs, and he can't talk very well. He's pretty scared, and he says he needs your help."
"They kicked him?"
"That's what he says."
"A mugging, huh? They robbed him?"
"I don't know. He says they didn't take anything."
"Just kicked him."
"I guess so," said Robert Lancaster.
"Did he call the police?"
"Tell him to report it to the police," I said. "That's what he needs to do."
He blew a quick breath into the phone. "Look, I'm sorry, okay? He called me. I said, 'Why are you calling me? You never call me.' He said, 'I got a problem, and I need you to come over here.' I said, 'What about all those times I had a problem? Did you come over?'" He paused. "Anyway, he called, I went. Now I'm here and I'm calling you."
"You're the one he called," I said. "You being his only son."
"Me being convenient," said Robert. "I live in Brighton. I go to BU. I took the T over. Look. He's hurt pretty bad, Mr. Coyne."
"So I should come right away, too," I said. "Since I'm his lawyer as well as his friend."
"That's the message. If you can't do it, I'll tell him."
I blew out a breath. "Yes. Okay. He's my client. That's what I do. When are they releasing him?"
"In a few minutes, I'd say. They've patched him up, given him a prescription. He's finishing up some paperwork."
I thought for a minute. "There's a little bar-and-grill on Tremont Street, place called Vic's, stays open late for the after-theater folks, five minutes from where you are. Know where it is?"
"We'll find it," he said.
"Just around the corner from Boylston," I said. "I'll meet you guys there in fifteen or twenty minutes. You get there first, grab a booth and order me a cup of coffee."
"You got it," said Robert Lancaster.
I clicked off the phone, verified that the Sox had not blown their lead, turned off the TV, and took the phone and the TV into the house. Henry followed behind me.
I went up to our bedroom and opened the door. In the dim light from the hallway I saw Evie mounded under the covers. She was lying on her side facing away from the doorway. The curve of her hip made me smile.
I went in, sat on the bed beside her, and touched her shoulder. "Hey," I said softly.
She didn't respond.
I leaned over, lifted the hair away from her neck, and kissed her on the magic spot where her neck joined her shoulder.
She moaned softly, then rolled onto her back. She blinked her eyes, focused on me, and smiled. "Did we win?" she mumbled.
"It's not over," I said. "We're ahead. Sorry to wake you up. I—"
"I wasn't really asleep," she said.
"You feel all right?"
"What's the matter, honey?"
"Little headache, that's all."
"Why don't I get you some aspirin."
"Sure," she said. "That's a good idea."
I went into the bathroom, shook a couple of aspirin tablets into my palm, filled a glass with water, and took them back to the bedroom. I sat beside Evie and propped her up with my arm so she could take the pills.
"Thanks," she said. She sighed, lay back on her pillow, and closed her eyes.
"You going to be all right?"
"Oh, I'll be fine," she said. "Overtired, I guess. You coming to bed?"
"Not yet. I've gotta go meet a client."
"Huh?" Her eyes popped open, and she frowned at me. "What's up?"
"I don't know," I said. "I'm meeting him at Vic's on Tremont Street. I'll be back soon. You go to sleep."
"Anybody I know?"
"Just a client, honey."
"This time of night?"
"A lawyer's work is never done," I said. I touched her cheek. "Feel better, okay?"
"Yes, sir." She closed her eyes and smiled. "Kiss me."
"Yes, ma'am." I bent over and kissed her mouth.
Her hand touched my face. "Come right back, please."
"Always," I said.CHAPTER 2
Dalton Lancaster and I were first-year students together at the Yale Law School twenty-something years ago. He quit after his first miserable year when his father died. He hated law school and only went because both of his parents were lawyers. His old man was a partner at Schilling, Lowe, and Lancaster on State Street and expected his only son to join the firm as soon as he passed the bar. His mother was none other than Superior Court Judge Adrienne Lancaster.
Dalt was convinced that he'd never satisfy his parents, especially his father. All he ever wanted, right up to the day that Frederick Billings Lancaster keeled over in the firm's washroom, was for the coldhearted prick to say something nice to him.
So after he buried his father, Dalt quit law school and used his patrimony to buy an upscale California-style bistro in Boston's South End, and when that failed he tried to make a go of a family restaurant in Arlington, but that didn't work out, either. He managed to keep it a secret for a long time, but finally it came out that he'd been investing more time and money in the blackjack and poker tables at the Foxwoods casinos in Connecticut than in the tables in his restaurants, and pretty soon Dalt's share of his old man's money was gone.
Along the way he married a dark-eyed waitress named Teresa. They had a son, Robert. When Dalt gambled away all their money, Teresa divorced him and took Robert with her.
I handled Dalt's end of the divorce. Teresa went for full custody of Robert on the grounds that Dalt was an addicted gambler, besides being an incompetent father and husband. I told Dalt I thought we could get fifty-fifty custody, but he said no, Teresa was right, he was not to be trusted, and we ended up settling for a weekend a month and a week in the summer.
For the past decade or so Dalt had been managing other people's restaurants, working for a salary, most recently at a seafood place called the Boston Scrod in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace in downtown Boston.
The last I heard, Teresa had married a Nissan dealer and was living in Acton.
I'd been Dalt's lawyer the whole time, through the purchases and failures of his businesses, his struggles with addiction, his marriage to and divorce from Teresa, and then through his remarriage, five or six years ago, to a pretty high school biology teacher named Jessica Laroche.
I'd always liked Dalt Lancaster, and I tried not to feel sorry for him. Even though his father had died many years ago, and even though the old man's money was long gone, Dalt still seemed always to be looking over his shoulder. His mother the judge seemed to love him well enough, although she'd never tried to hide her disappointment in the way his life had gone. Dalt had never really crawled out from under Frederick Lancaster's big paternal shadow, and that seemed to explain everything.
Dalt once told me that fatherhood scared him. He was afraid he'd turn into the father that his own had been. That's why he let Teresa have Robert. He'd rather be no father at all than end up like his own old man.
The bar at Vic's was two deep with theater people in silk dresses and pearl necklaces and summer-weight suits and blazers, but when I shouldered my way through them and stepped into the dining area, I saw a face lean out and a hand wave from the booth in the far corner.
I went to the booth. I guessed it was Robert, although I hadn't seen him in many years. He resembled his Italian mother. A big mop of curly black hair, bronze skin, white teeth. He was a slender, handsome kid-almost-a-man. He wore the uniform of his generation—sunglasses, black T-shirt, and a gold stud in his left ear.
I shook Robert's hand. Dalton Lancaster and a man I didn't recognize were sitting across from him.
Robert gestured at the man sitting beside Dalt. "This is Mike Warner. My Uncle Mike. He just got here. He's going to drive my father home. The doctor said he shouldn't drive."
Mike Warner had curly sun-bleached hair, a tanned face, and startling blue eyes. I guessed he was a few years older than Dalt, late forties, maybe. He was cradling a mug of beer on the table in both of his beefy hands.
He took his right hand off his sweaty beer mug, wiped it on his pants, and held it out to me. "Hey."
I shook Warner's hand, said, "Hey," and slid in beside Robert. "You must be Jess's brother, then."
"No," he said. "I'm Kimmie's husband. Kimmie is Jess's sister, which makes me Dalt's brother-in-law." He grinned. "Got all that?"
I shrugged. "Either way you're Robert's uncle."
"Stepuncle," he said, "technically."
Dalton Lancaster was sipping a Coke through a straw. The entire left side of his face was red and beginning to swell, his left eye was bloodshot and half closed, and his left eyebrow was covered with a Band-Aid. Some dried blood had caked in one of his nostrils, and his shirt was torn and smudged with dirt.
"What the hell happened?" I said to him.
"Three guys," he mumbled. "In the parking lot." He talked through clenched teeth. His voice was so low I had to lean across the table to hear him. "Bastards punched me, knocked me down, kicked me."
I pointed at his wrist. "They didn't take your watch."
"They took nothing," he said, staring down into his glass of Coke. "They just kicked me. Loosened some teeth, bruised some ribs. The doctor said I was lucky." He tried to smile, but it didn't work, and he had to squeeze his eyes shut for a minute. "No broken bones, no internal injuries. Just a raging fucking headache." He looked up at me. "I know what you're thinking."
"It wasn't luck, you know," I said. "If they didn't break anything, it's because they didn't want to. This was to put you on notice."
He nodded. "Yeah, well, for what?"
"You tell me. What did they say?"
He shook his head. "I don't know. I was too busy getting my head kicked in."
"Did you get a look at them?"
He shrugged. "They were kind of short and dark and muscular. Italian, Hispanic, something like that: They were wearing suits. They followed me to the parking lot. I was kind of aware of them behind me, but I didn't think anything about it. Figured just some guys like me, heading for their car."
"Could you pick them out of a lineup?"
He shook his head. "It was dark. They came up behind me. They were just, you know, thugs. One of them had a big mole or wart or something on his face."
"So how much do you owe them?" I said.
He frowned at me, then lifted up his hands and spread them open. "Brady, honest to God," he said. "That's what I'm trying to tell you. I don't do that anymore. All I owe is the mortgage and the car loan. I'm not even behind on my payments. I don't think the bank sends goons, do they?"
I smiled. "Depends on your definition of goon, I guess. So what do you think? Sounds like they got the wrong man. They mistook you for somebody else, huh?"
"Well," he said, "they called me Lancaster, and last I looked, that's my name."
"They used your name?"
He nodded. "I was almost at my car, starting to get a little nervous about these guys behind me but trying to ignore them, and one of them says, 'Hey, you. Lancaster. Dalton Lancaster.' So I stopped and turned around, and he punched me in the chest. This was the one with the mole on his face. Felt like I'd been hit by a sledgehammer. Knocked me down, and then they commenced kicking me."
I slid out of the booth, then looked down at Robert Lancaster and Mike Warner. "Mike," I said, "Robert, give him a minute with his lawyer, will you?"
They both nodded, got up, and walked away.
I resumed my seat across from Dalt and watched Warner and Robert Lancaster move toward the front of the restaurant. They stopped when they got to the bar area and talked for a minute. Then Warner nodded, gave Robert a little punch on the shoulder, and made a left turn toward the men's room.
I turned to Dalt and said, "Your son has become a man."
Dalt smiled. "He's a good kid, Brady. Thank God I didn't fuck him up the way my old man did me."
"Something to be proud of," I said. "Warner seems like an okay guy."
He nodded. "Mike's a good guy. I called, told him where I was, asked him to come get me, and he came. No questions asked."
I put my elbows on the table and pushed my face at him. "I can see why there might be things you wouldn't want Mike and Robert to hear," I said. "But God damn it, Dalt, you can't lie to me. I'm your lawyer. We've been through all this before. You know it's all confidential." I looked hard at him. "So let's have it. Who do you owe money to, and how much?"
He blinked at me. "Brady," he said, "I'm telling you the truth. I promised Jess I'd quit when I asked her to marry me, and I've kept my word. I have no idea what those thugs wanted."
"Next time they won't pull their punches," I said. "You understand that, right?"
"Of course I do."
"They might kill you."
He gave his head a little shake. "Believe me, I understand that."
"So don't fuck with me."
"I'm not fucking with you," he said. "I have no idea what this is all about. That's why I need you."
"They must've said something."
Excerpted from One-Way Ticket by William G. Tapply. Copyright © 2007 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Interesting mystery but slow to get going. Gambling addicted college student is kidnapped. Brady suspects the mob and has dealings with the mob boss and his son.First part of the book is devoted to Brady's relationship with Evie and her leaving to go to California to be with her dying father.
No. But go to wolves ninth result
I'm leaving now. *leaves*
Ur nt there anymore