Saturday, April 29, 2017

Aubrey Hamilton Reviews: Death at Charity’s Point by William G. Tapply

After making her debut appearance last week with her review of Come Dark by Steven F. Havill last week, Aubrey Hamilton is back today with her review of Death at Charity’s Point by William G. Tapply.

Death at Charity’s Point by William G. Tapply is the first title in the Brady Coyne mystery series. Tapply released 28 mysteries featuring Coyne beginning in 1984. The last one was published in 2010 after Tapply’s death. Books 19, 22 and 26 were written jointly with Philip R. Craig, who wrote the Martha’s Vineyard mystery series featuring a retired Boston police detective Jefferson “J.W.” Jackson, eking out a living on Martha’s Vineyard.

Coyne is an attorney in Boston who loves to fish. He’s a sole practitioner with a small office because he is unable to fit into the large corporate legal mold. He’s developed a specialized practice among the wealthy residents of the Boston area. Like other contemporary fictional lawyers – Dismas Hardy, Jake Lassiter, Deborah Knott, Paul Madriani, Matthew Hope, and Antony Maitland and Perry Mason before them – Coyne finds that he can’t meet his client’s expectations or needs by sitting behind his desk. His client in this case is a wealthy elderly widow who lost one son in Vietnam and the remaining son has just walked off Charity’s Point, a cliff overlooking a rocky section of the Atlantic Ocean north of Boston.  She cannot accept the idea of her son George committing suicide and retains Coyne to find out what actually happened. As incentive she offers him a percentage of the insurance payout that will otherwise be denied if the suicide verdict stands.

Coyne begins by asking questions of the staff at the private school where George taught without learning much. His interview with the medical examiner describes the autopsy in graphic detail. A search of his apartment reveals a large library of historical reference and current research into the protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as a list of numbers with no explanation and receipts from a physician his mother didn’t know he was seeing. The murder of a student from the same school reawakens police interest in George’s death, and a near-fatal attack on Coyne follows quickly.

The story is well-written, the mystery is on the predictable side with red herrings that are no sooner presented than removed, and the characters make the book shine. The title was a finalist for the Crime Writers’ Association 1985 New Blood Dagger Award.

Aubrey Hamilton ©2017

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal IT projects by day and reads mysteries at night.

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