Sunday, January 15, 2017

Boston Attorney Brady Coyne Investigates the Death of an Apparent Homeless Man

Published in 1987, this is the fourth novel in the series featuring Boston attorney, Brady Coyne. The most unusual thing about this series is that, in the twenty-eight books that constitute the series, we never once saw Brady Coyne in court. And, for that matter, there's very little legal argument in any of the books. Almost always, as in this case, one of Coyne's very wealthy clients asks for his assistance with a problem that has very little to do with legal matters.

In this instance, Senator Ben Woodhouse, a rare Massachusetts Republican, asks Brady to look into the death of his nephew, Stu Carver. Carver was found dead in an alley in freezing weather, dressed in the rags of a homeless man. There was no identification on the man and no apparent trauma to his body, and so the police are ready to dismiss the case as the accidental death of yet another bum who froze to death on a cold Boston night.

But then, the victim is identified and it turns out that he's the nephew of an important politician. So the cops decide to pay closer attention. They order up an autopsy, which they otherwise would not have done, and it turns out that Carver was stabbed to death by someone who stuck an icepick into his left ear. (Ouch!)

Even with this new evidence, the police are inclined to write off the case as an attack on a homeless man. It's too bad; regrettably, it happens all too often; they have no leads at all, and so they aren't inclined to do much about it. Thus the senator contacts Brady Coyne and asks him to look into the case.

Brady quickly learns that Stu Carver was not just your average homeless person. He was actually a successful author who was doing a book on the homeless. To thoroughly immerse himself in the problem, he actually became a homeless person. Digging deeper into the killing, Brady discovers that Carver may have discovered something that he shouldn't have. Perhaps even worse, he may have written about it in his notebooks. And this, in turn, may put a lot of other people in mortal danger, not least among them, his uncle's attorney.

This is another very good entry in the series. The book is a bit dated, of course, but it's fun to spend a few hours in the company of Brady Coyne. And once you're immersed in the story, it doesn't even occur to you that nobody has an i-Phone or a tablet, or even much of a computer. This series never achieved the prominence of, say, Robert B. Parker's Spenser series, which was also set in Boston, but nonetheless, most of the books in it, this one included, will appeal to a lot of crime fiction fans.

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