A Void in Hearts (Brady Coyne Series #7)

A Void in Hearts (Brady Coyne Series #7)

by William G. Tapply

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Boston lawyer Brady Coyne investigates the death of a shady private detective in a mystery with “complications of the heart as compelling as clues” (Publishers Weekly).
 Les Katz may well be scum. A private detective, he does not hesitate to take the case when a Farrah Fawcett look-alike hires him to tail her husband. The photos he secures suggest the man is cheating on his wife, but they aren’t definitive. Rather than disappoint his client, he contacts her man and offers to sell him the pictures. Katz considers this a charitable act, but to his attorney, Brady Coyne, it looks an awful lot like blackmail.
Brady tells Katz to give the money back, fully expecting to be ignored. But when Katz is killed in a hit-and-run, he realizes blackmail wasn’t the PI’s only mistake: Les Katz was murdered to protect a terrible secret—and a conspiracy that goes far beyond a single cheating husband. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480427396
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
Publication date: 08/06/2013
Series: Brady Coyne Series , #7
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 198
Sales rank: 242,353
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

William G. Tapply (1940–2009) was an American author best known for writing legal thrillers. A lifelong New Englander, he graduated from Amherst and Harvard before going on to teach social studies at Lexington High School. He published his first novel, Death at Charity’s Point, in 1984. A story of death and betrayal among Boston Brahmins, it introduced crusading lawyer Brady Coyne, a fishing enthusiast whom Tapply would follow through twenty-five more novels, including Follow the Sharks, The Vulgar Boatman, and the posthumously published Outwitting Trolls.
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.  
William G. Tapply (1940–2009) was an American author best known for writing legal thrillers. A lifelong New Englander, he graduated from Amherst and Harvard before going on to teach social studies at Lexington High School. He published his first novel, Death at Charity’s Point, in 1984. A story of death and betrayal among Boston Brahmins, it introduced crusading lawyer Brady Coyne, a fishing enthusiast whom Tapply would follow through twenty-five more novels, including Follow the Sharks, The Vulgar Boatman, and the posthumously published Outwitting Trolls.

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 Void in Hearts

A Brady Coyne Mystery

By William G. Tapply


Copyright © 1988 William G. Tapply
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-2739-6


Les katz peered at me with his dirt-colored eyes. "It has occurred to me," he said slowly, "that I may have committed a crime."

I glanced around. The restaurant was empty of other patrons, not that surprising at three on a Thursday afternoon in January at Hung Moon's in Somerville, Massachusetts. Two waitresses—they looked Vietnamese to me—sat at a table across the room under a plastic fern, watching us. I knew if I lifted a finger or arched an eyebrow I would be offered an hour of exquisite oriental pleasure at reasonable rates. I was not tempted.

Les spent a lot of time at Hung Moon's. "I'm addicted to MSG," he once told me. "Also, there's this chick named Soo Ling who's got a tongue like an anaconda."

Les Katz was a private investigator whom I used on those relatively rare occasions when I needed one. My law practice consists mostly of estates and contracts, the mundane paper stuff that my wealthy clients need. Now and then, however, a client asks me for services that I don't perform myself, and that's when I call Les. Once, for example, he found the fourteen-year-old daughter of a State Street banker in the back room of a Combat Zone bar for me, and he took her back to the private school in Weston where her estranged parents had placed her for safekeeping. Another time Les nailed an engineer who was selling company secrets to a competitor.

Les was very good at his work. He had never failed me. This made me a hero in the eyes of my clients and Les a hero of sorts in mine.

He was a brown-and-gray man, distinguished by his nondescriptness. Medium height, medium build, medium middle-aged, neither attractive nor ugly, he blended in. He was blessed, moreover, with a seemingly limitless supply of patience. "How," I once asked him, "can you sit in a car all night staring into the dark? How can you spend weeks on end twirling on a barstool?"

"Simple," he said. "I play old bridge hands in my head. The real secret is to drink Coke, not booze. A slow, steady intake of caffeine. We Sam Spade types gotta be alert, you know. Danger lurks behind every door, and all that shit. What I don't understand is how you can devote a career to shuffling manila folders and changing commas into semicolons. I mean, how many times can a man write 'party of the first part' on yellow legal pads before he begins to claw at his own eyeballs?"

Now he was leaning across the damp table at me, a glass of Coca-Cola in front of him, a half smile on his forgettable face. After a moment he removed his cigar from his mouth and jabbed at me with its soggy end. "Did you hear me?" he said. "About me maybe committing a crime?"

"I heard you, Les."


I shrugged. He frowned. Then he said, "Oh, right." He extracted his wallet from his hip pocket, removed a bill, folded it once the long way, and extended it to me between two fingers. I took it and smoothed it out.

"A ten-spot," I observed. "Something heavy, Les?"

"Are we…"

I took a ballpoint pen from my pocket and scribbled on a napkin. I pushed it across the table. Les glanced at it, wrote his name on it, and pushed it back to me. I folded it and stuck it into my shirt pocket.

"Now," I said, "I am officially and legally retained. You are my privileged client. I am your lawyer."

"I can talk?"

"Freely. Liberally. Talk dirty if you want."

"It's a little embarrassing."

"It usually is."

"Actually, it's not as sordid as it may sound."

I lit a cigarette. "You figure you're getting your money's worth out of this, Les?"

"Okay," he said. He clamped down on his cigar and fired it up. "You've got the meter running, huh?"

"Spit it out."

He nodded and leaned toward me. "Good-looking lady comes to your office, wants you to get the goods on her old man, who she thinks is scraping his carrot somewhere else. What do you conclude?"

"I conclude," I said, "that maybe this good-looking lady's shagging somebody on the side, wants a little insurance in case her old man hires an investigator to check her out."

"I thought of that," said Les. "The other thing I thought of, though, is maybe this good-looking lady's got something wrong with her, her old man needs to play around. Two sides to every story, right?"

"Everybody plays around," I observed.

Les cocked his head at me. "That ain't true."

"Okay. I stand corrected. People who aren't married, you don't call it playing around. Anyway, so what?"

"So this lady is telling me she thinks the guy is finding some interesting new place to dip his wick, and she's looking at me through these eyes that make you want to jump right in. Slim, tall, all this blond hair. She looked like that actress there. Farrah Fawcett. Had this voice, made you feel like you just finished having sex with her to hear her talk. Brady, I'm telling you, she was absolutely gorgeous. Anyway, I tell her, sure, that's what I do for a living. I ask her a few questions, trying to get a line on the guy. She's acting typical. Last thing she wants is the guy finding out she's sicced a gumshoe onto him. She's nervous. Like she wants to know, but doesn't, too. Pays in cash. Don't try to call her. Don't go near their house. Anyway, to make a long story short—"

"It's a little late for that, Les."

He frowned at me. "Huh?"

"It's already a long story."

"Right. I follow the guy. Sure enough. She's right. Nooners. Superdiscreet. Twice a week, but different days, always they meet in a different place. Once she's in a taxi that stops on the corner for him. Another time they have lunch at separate tables at the Oyster House and he follows her out, they go to a hotel in Brookline. Once he sits beside her on a bench on the Common, they don't go anywhere. Just lean close to each other and talk. I got my trusty three-hundred-millimeter lens working. Still, nothing definitive, you know?"

I nodded.

"Okay," he continued. "So I follow them for three weeks. They've got a thing going, no doubt in my mind. But damned if I could get what I needed. And you know I'm good at what I do."

"Photos. Tapes. In flagrante delicto. You got nothing juicy."

"Right. I never knew where they were going until they got there. I had the feeling that she was running the show, making the arrangements. She's done this before, you ask me. So there I am. The old lady, she's gonna call me, find out what I got. What do I say? I think her old man's messing around, all right! I can show her a picture of the alienator of her husband's affections. But no evidence of anything. In other words, I haven't earned my money."

"For all you can tell, these are business meetings," I said.

"Hell, Brady, I know they ain't business meetings. I know exactly what they are. But these two've got me stumped. I admit it. Funny thing, though. I started thinking, this guy keeps meeting this lady, they've obviously got something going, and next thing I know I start to feel sorry for them. They've gotta sneak around, and this lady, she's not all that attractive, so I begin to think they're really in love or something. More than just, you know, good, healthy hormones run amok. They've got something nice, it seems to me, and who am I to interfere?"

"Come off it, Les."

"No, really. I actually began to feel guilty."

I shook my head slowly. "Why don't you buy us another drink."

"Capital idea." He glanced over at the two Vietnamese waitresses and nodded. They discussed it for a moment and then one of them came toward us. Her skirt was so tight that she walked as if her feet were bound, little birdlike steps, one foot precisely in front of the other.

"Gennumun?" she said, an expectant smile on her rosebud lips.

"Another," said Les, gesturing to our empty glasses. "Bourbon for my uncle. Coke for me."

The girl glanced over her shoulder at her friend at the table across the room. They exchanged small shrugs before she tiptoed away.

"So," resumed Les, examining the dead end of his cigar, "I thought about it for a while. Finally I realized what I had to do."


"No, listen. My heart was in absolutely the right place. I call the guy up at his office. Tell him my name, my job, and ask him if he'd like to meet with me. He sounds very shook up. Naturally. So I meet him at this grungy bar in Chelsea, for God's sake. His choice. We sit in a booth. He refuses a drink. I tell him, I say I've been following him for three weeks, I know what he's doing. I've got photos of him and the lady. I tell him I got nothing really incriminating, but he probably still wouldn't want his wife to see them. He agrees instantly. I tell him, who am I to butt into his life? He seems to agree with that, too. Then you know what he did?"

"He offered to buy the pictures from you," I said.

Les sat back and placed both of his hands flat on the table. "How did you figure that out?"

"I think you left the little hints you might have let slip out of your narrative, Les. You did suggest to this man, in a very circuitous way, I'm sure, that if he had the photos, then you wouldn't have them to show his wife. Am I right?"

"Well," he said, his eyes slipping away from mine, "maybe I did. Not that I really intended to, understand, and not that I necessarily went there with that in my mind. I am not a devious man, Brady."

"Ho, ho," I said.

Les shrugged. "Anyway, he wanted the photos real bad. See, I said to myself, Les, I said, you give the wife these pictures, all it's gonna do is make everybody unhappy. She can't use them to divorce the guy and take him to the cleaners, because they're just not explicit enough. So she gets nothing out of it. But she's miserable, even so, and she makes things miserable for the poor guy. But if he gets the pictures—see, Brady, they just show the two of them getting out of a cab together, walking into a hotel, sitting beside each other on a park bench—if he has them, that way nobody gets hurt."

The waitress brought our drinks and scurried back to her friend across the room. I removed the paper parasol from mine and sipped. Cheap bourbon. I put the drink down, lit a Winston, and studied Les.

"You're thinking bad thoughts," he said.

"It's blackmail, Les. Legal opinion."

"I knew you'd say that."

"Unethical. Illegal. Is that what you paid me ten bucks to tell you?"

"I do feel a lot better, telling you all this."

"Convert, then. Priests don't charge anything for hearing confessions. You going to tell me the rest of it?"

He frowned at his cigar. Then he smashed it into the ashtray. "The wife called me. That was how we had left it. She'd get in touch. Didn't want me calling her."

"What'd you tell her?"

He smiled apologetically and lifted his hands palms outward, as if it were self-evident. "I told her I had nothing on the man and as far as I could tell I wouldn't be able to get anything. I told her to forget it. I told her I couldn't help her. I told her our slate was clean. She had given me a retainer and expenses for the three weeks. Cash on the spot when she hired me. And that was that. End of story."

"A happy ending, then."

"You think so?"

"Are you worried?"

He shook his head doubtfully. "Nope. Guess not. I'm clear, huh?"

"What could happen?"

He sighed loudly. "I've been trying to figure it out. She could tell him she hired me, right? How relieved she is that he's still the faithful spouse. But hell, he knows this already. Nothing new to him. No problem to me. Now, he sure as hell isn't gonna tell her that he bought these photos from some creepy private dick that show him with this broad he's banging, and if he does, the last thing on her mind is my, ah, dubious ethics. So nothing can happen."

I studied the half-empty glass of bourbon that sat in front of me. There was a large black speck frozen in the middle of one of the ice cubes. It could have been a cigarette ash. Or a bug. "Les," I said evenly, "you extorted money from a man. You lied to your client. You took money from both of them. You are a disgrace. Another legal opinion."

"I know, I know. But I think I did the right thing."

"You're a social worker, maybe you did the right thing. You're a private investigator, you plain fucked up."

"So what do you think I should do?"

I grinned. "You should give the guy his money back. You should go to the wife and tell her what you found out. You can't play God in people's lives, and you can't blackmail folks." I leaned forward, my elbows planted on the table, my chin on my fists. "By the way," I said, "didn't the man ask for negatives?"

"Oh, sure he did."

"And did you give them to him?"

"I hate to tell you this."

"So don't. I rendered you more than ten bucks' worth already." I pushed my chair back and started to stand.

He reached across the table and put his hand on my wrist. "No, wait. You want another ten-spot?"

I sat down. "The hell with it. What about the negatives?"

"You're not going to like this."

I shrugged.

"I had a set of negatives with me. We burned them."


"Well, actually I burned them. In the ashtray on the table in that cruddy bar in Chelsea."

"What negatives were they, Les?"

He rolled his brown eyes upward. He reminded me of a sheep. His expression certainly qualified as sheepish. "It was a roll of film I shot last summer on the Cape. Nothing much good. Artsy stuff. Boats. Sand dunes. Surf. Not my forte."

"And the man didn't examine them?"

"I kinda did it quick. Talked through it. He never questioned it."

"You are a piece of work, you know that?"

Les smiled. "What can I say?"

"You still have the negatives, then."

"Yep. I got 'em."

"So what are you going to do?"

He shrugged elaborately. "What can I do?"

"You can make another set of prints, show them to your client. You can give the poor guy his money back."

Les stared over at the two waitresses. One of them waggled her fingers at him. He waggled back at her. She opened her mouth and ran her tongue all the way around the inside of her lips. Les smiled and turned to me. "Nah. I don't think so. But thanks for the advice. It was worth ten bucks. Easy."


A brilliant January sun had burned away the smog and crud that usually hung over the city. I kept sniveling around in my chair to look at it. The fishing season was too far off to allow myself to dream about it. The golf courses would remain frozen for months. I liked the gray days of January better, when slush lay in puddles on the sidewalks and the dirty snow huddled miserably against the buildings, and a man could more easily accept the futility of wishing for spring.

Anyway, I had contracts to revise, estates to settle, codicils to compose, clients to call. There might be the odd divorce, perhaps a deed to research. I would get through this day, and the next.

There came the scratching of long, well-tended fingernails on my door. I called, "Come on in, Julie."

My dark-haired, green-eyed secretary entered, with a smile that eclipsed the brilliance of the sun, and a mug of coffee, freshly brewed. She placed the mug on my desk and herself on the chair beside it.

"We have a problem," she said.

"Keeping our passions in check," I answered.

"Not that one. That is not a problem."

"Speak for yourself."

"I emphatically was. This concerns our telephone system."

I sipped my coffee and lit a cigarette. "Sounds like just the kind of problem I'd like to tackle today. Shoot."

"Okay." She took a deep breath. "When we put somebody on hold, because you're making plans to go fishing with Mr. McDevitt or Dr. Adams or somebody, like the time you were arranging that trip to Alaska, and Dr. Adams wanted to bring his wife and you really didn't want a woman along but you couldn't figure out how to tell him and besides you've got this little thing for her anyway, and while you were beating around the bush with your friend, Mrs. Bailey had to wait for nearly twenty minutes to tell you that they were taking her husband off life support—"

"Jesus, Julie. Get to it."

She scowled. "I am. Anyway, you do spend a lot of time on the phone."

"So I do. The telephone is an indispensable tool for attorneys."

She gave me a phony smile. "You bet. Listen. What we can do, they say, is, we can have music play into the phone while somebody's on hold."

I nodded. "Good. Sounds good."


Excerpted from A Void in Hearts by William G. Tapply. Copyright © 1988 William G. Tapply. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com.
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.

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A Void in Hearts (Brady Coyne Series #7) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Kathy89 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A P.I. friend of Brady's is the victim of a hit & run after confiding to him about a strange case he's working on for a woman checking on her cheating husband. Of course things aren't what they seem.