by Bruce TierneyNovember, 2003
Mystery of the month
A tip of the hat and the November Tip of the Ice Pick Award go to veteran author William G. Tapply for Shadow of Death, the latest in his superb series featuring Boston attorney Brady Coyne. Hired by a political kingmaker to conduct a quiet inquiry into the affairs of the husband of a prominent senatorial candidate, Coyne enlists the aid of a trusted PI friend. When the investigator is murdered in a rigged car accident, Coyne is prohibited from sharing his knowledge with the police, an unexpected byproduct of attorney/client privilege. Needless to say, he feels responsible for his friend's death, and as he cannot in good conscience go to the police, he decides to enter the investigative fray himself. What he turns up will cost the life of at least one other person, threaten the career of a political hopeful, dig up a can of worms that has been buried for some 30 years, and put Coyne's license (and life) in jeopardy. Tapply is among the best of the current crop of mystery novelists. His plots are original and well crafted, the characters complex and believable, and the dialogue much more true to life than the endless wisecracking so common to the genre. He has been compared with the legends Dashiell Hammett and John D. MacDonald, and the comparisons are quite apt. With Hammett, Tapply shares the gift of milieu; each conveys the intimated details that evoke the essence of place and time, even to readers who have never set foot in California or Boston. With MacDonald, Tapply shares tales of the quests of the common man: an everyday guy-next-door put in harm's way by a series of events outside of his control. Brady Coyne, Boston lawyer, self-described slacker, ardent fisherman, is just such an everyday fellow. There are several Brady Coyne novels in the series, and an evening spent with Shadow of Death will surely nudge the reader to read one (or all) of the previous books. Bruce Tierney is a Nashville-based writer who was weaned on the Hardy Boys.