Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brady Coyne's 24th Case

"Hell Bent" is the twenty-fourth book to feature Boston attorney Brady Coyne, and it ranks among the best of the entries. For those who haven't met him, Coyne is a sole practitioner with a client list that consists mostly of fairly well-heeled Bostonians and a secretary named Julie, who keeps his professional life in some semblance of order. He's long divorced and usually involved with an attractive female.

As Brady comments in this book, he was trained to be a lawyer, but his DNA programmed him to be a fisherman. In this book, though, unlike most of the others, Brady has no time for fishing. After an absence of several years, an old girlfriend, Alex Shaw, walks back into Brady's life and asks him to represent her brother, Gus. Gus is a photojournalist who lost a hand, and thus his profession, in an explosion in Iraq. Not surprisingly he comes back a changed man and the changes are not for the better.

Gus is suffering from PTSD; he's a stranger to his wife and daughters, and a menace to them and to himself as well. His wife sues for divorce and secures a restraining order against him, but Gus doesn't care. He's perfectly willing to give her everything; nothing matters to him any more. Alex wants Brady to protect Gus's interests in the divorce, and Gus reluctantly agrees to let Brady represent him.

Almost immediately thereafter, though, Gus is found shot to death, the victim of an apparent suicide. The cops and everyone else sign off on the case, but Alex refuses to believe that her brother would kill himself. Brady isn't sure, but Alex has walked back into his life four months after his latest girlfriend walked out of it. There's still a spark between Alex and Brady and so he agrees to investigate.

Inevitably, things are more complicated than they initially appear, and Brady finds himself drawn into a complex and dangerous situation. The result is a book in which the urgency mounts and which is increasingly difficult to put down. Long-time fans of the series will enjoy "Hell Bent", but it will also appeal to fans of crime fiction who have never sampled Tapply's work before.

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