Cutter's Run (Brady Coyne Series #15)

Cutter's Run (Brady Coyne Series #15)

by William G. Tapply

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While fishing in Maine, the Boston lawyer runs afoul of a racist conspiracy in this mystery thriller from the “smooth and sophisticated” author (The New York Times).
 Brady Coyne is far from Boston when he stumbles across his latest case. He’s in the beautiful Maine countryside, fishing and spending time with his beloved Alexandria Shaw, when he meets Charlotte Gillespie on the side of the road. A beautiful middle-aged black woman, she’s walking into town with her dog in her arms. The puppy is near dead, having been poisoned—probably by the same person who spray-painted the swastika on Charlotte’s property. After giving her a lift into town, Brady tries to find a way to help, but before Charlotte can explain her problems, she disappears.
In unfamiliar territory, with a vanished client and rumors swirling around him, Brady tries to come to grips with the shadowy presence that has rotted this pleasant little town from the inside out. There are dangerous men in these woods—and anyone who would poison a puppy won’t hesitate to kill a man.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480436275
Publisher: Road
Publication date: 08/06/2013
Series: Brady Coyne Series , #15
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 276
Sales rank: 369,347
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

Cutter's Run

A Brady Coyne Mystery

By William G. Tapply


Copyright © 1998 William G. Tapply
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-3627-5


I'd picked up my Globe at Leon's store and was bumping over a Maine dirt road on a Saturday morning in late August, taking the long way back to Alex's house, when I spotted the woman shuffling along up ahead of me. Her head was bent forward and her shoulders were humped over, and she moved painfully slowly. She wore high-top canvas sneakers and a loose-fitting brown dress that hung to her ankles. Sweat made a dark patch between her shoulder blades, and her long black hair was tied loosely back with a pink ribbon.

When I pulled up beside her, I saw that she was hugging a yellow dog against her chest. I stopped and leaned over to the open window on the passenger side of my secondhand Jeep Wrangler. "Can I give you a lift?" I said.

When she turned and lifted her head to look at me, I saw that she had skin the color of dark Maine maple syrup and cheekbones like Lena Horne. I admit I was a bit startled. Stereotypic thinking, maybe. But I didn't recall ever before seeing an African-American of any description in the western Maine countryside, never mind one who was quite beautiful.

She gazed straight into my eyes. Hers were the color of hot fudge, wide-set and slightly uptilted, with tiny crinkles at the corners. She had a narrow aristocratic nose and a wide mouth. She was, I guessed, around forty.

After a moment of taking my measure, she nodded. "My dog's sick," she said softly. "Thank you." In her voice I heard the hills of western Carolina, or maybe Tennessee, not the sandy back roads of Maine.

I yanked up the emergency brake, got out of the Jeep, and went around to hold the door for her. I braced her elbow and helped her climb in, closed the door, then went around and got behind the wheel.

She was bowing over the dog on her lap, whispering to it. It was about the size of a springer spaniel, a mongrel with a long pointy nose and floppy ears. It lay limply on her lap, panting rapidly with its tongue lolling out and its eyes half closed.

I reached over, patted its head, then touched its nose, which felt dry and hot. I've been told that a healthy dog's nose should be cool and moist, although that may be a myth.

"His name's Jack," said the woman. "He's just a puppy."

Jack lifted his head and gave my hand a halfhearted lick, then let it fall back onto the woman's lap. "How long has he been sick?" I said.

She looked up at me. "He started vomiting last night. And he voided right where he lay. He can hardly stand up."

"You were headed for the vet?"

"Yes, sir."

"That's about three miles from here."

"Yes, sir. I know. I have to get him there."

I put the Jeep in gear and started up. It was only about seven-thirty on that Saturday morning, but already the oppressive late-summer heat had begun to gather in the piney woods, and the dust that hung over the roadway had smeared on her sweaty forehead. Her pink ribbon had come loose so that her hair hung in damp ringlets around her shoulders.

"Awfully hot morning to walk," I said.

"I don't have a car. Ride my bike, usually. I couldn't carry Jack on the bike."

"I'm Brady Coyne," I said.

"Charlotte," she said. "Charlotte Gillespie."

"I haven't seen you around."

"I try to keep to myself." She dipped her head and murmured something to Jack. Then she looked up at me and gave me a quick smile. "What about you, Mr. Coyne?"


"I haven't seen you around, either."

"Oh, I'm staying a few miles back down the road," I said. "Actually, my lady friend, Alexandria Shaw—maybe you know her?—it's her place. I come up to visit on weekends. Been doing it for about a year now."

"Oh, yes. Alexandria Shaw. Of course." When I glanced over, she was again bent over the dog in her lap, stroking his head and whispering to him.

Charlotte Gillespie showed no inclination to engage in further conversation, and I didn't push it. We emerged from the woods and passed Leonard Potter's dairy farm. A few dozen Holsteins grazed in the lumpy field behind Potter's aluminum-roofed barn. I stopped at the crossroads, where the Garrison post office shared space in the old Victorian that served as town hall, then turned right onto the two-lane blacktop, Route 160, the only numbered state highway that led into and out of Garrison. We passed Hadley's Feed and Grain, MaryLou's Grill, and then, across the street from the cemetery, the white clapboard Congregational church, whose pastor, a middle-aged woman named Gretchen Carroll, lived alone in the farmhouse next door. She was also Garrison's only notary public and, if you believed the rumors and cared about such things, the town's only lesbian.

Then we were in the country again. The road wound past farmland long abandoned and now thick with second-growth hardwood, past Perch Pond, where the local kids fished and swam and worried about snapping turtles biting their privates, and past Mason's lumberyard, where the aroma of fresh-cut pine sweetened the air.

At the top of the hill, I pulled into a parking area beside a rambling one-story building. The sign in front said "Garrison Veterinary Hospital and Kennels." When I got out and slammed the car door, it set off a chorus of barks, howls, and growls from out back.

I opened the door for Charlotte. Jack lay limp in her arms. "Let me carry him," I said.

She smiled quickly and shook her head. "No," she said. "Thank you."

So I steadied her elbow as she climbed out, then helped her up the steps onto the porch, held the door for her, and followed her inside.

A gray-haired woman was seated at a desk behind the counter. Her back was to us, and she was working at a computer. "Excuse me," I said to her. "Is the vet available?"

She swiveled around in her chair. She wore half-glasses down toward the tip of her nose, and she ducked her chin to look up at us over them. "I'm the vet," she said. She was probably around sixty, and when she pushed back her chair and stood up, I saw that she was tall and lanky and rawboned. "Dr. Spear," she said. "Laura Spear." She came to the counter, and when she saw Jack cradled in Charlotte's arms, she murmured, "Oh, dear."

She opened a hinged door in the counter. "Bring him on in," she said to Charlotte.

Charlotte lugged Jack through the office area, and they disappeared through a doorway. Neither woman looked back at me, so I went out on the porch for a cigarette.

I'd smoked two of them before Charlotte came out. She was not carrying Jack. I arched my eyebrows at her, and she shrugged. "He's very sick," she said.

"Did she say—?"

"She wasn't sure what it was." I saw that her eyes looked smudged, and I figured she'd been crying. "She gave him a shot, and that seemed to perk him up a little. She wants to keep him. I guess she can take care of him better than me." She gave a soft, wry laugh. "I guess I haven't done a very good job of it."

"Animals get sick," I said stupidly.

She smiled quickly and nodded. I told her I'd drive her home. She said she could walk, she was in no hurry. I told her that I was just killing time while Alex worked, so she shrugged and got into the Jeep.

I headed back to where I had seen her beside the road. Charlotte stared out the side window, and I didn't try to make conversation. As we approached the place where I'd picked her up, she said, "There's a road on the left about half a mile up ahead. I can get off there."

It was another dirt road, this one narrower than the one we were on. As I turned in, I said, "I'll take you all the way. It's too hot to walk."

"It's a bad road," she said.

"I've got four-wheel drive. That's why I got this old thing. For bad roads. I love to drive bad roads."

She shrugged, which I took for an affirmative, so I kept going.

Her road climbed a steep hill, then fell sharply on the other side, and halfway down I had to edge around a jumble of large boulders along the side. At the bottom of the hill, a narrow wooden bridge with no rails spanned a little brook that ran through a rocky streambed. An ancient stone wall paralleled both sides of the roadway. Alders and scrubby pines overhung the edges, and it was deeply rutted and potholed.

Navigating it on a bicycle would be a challenge.

"You can pull in here," Charlotte said after we had climbed halfway up the hill beyond the brook.

A pair of ruts disappeared through a break in the stone wall into the pine woods. When I turned in and stopped, I noticed that a big slab of plywood had been nailed onto a tree trunk. On it someone had painted in big black capital letters the words NO TRESPASSING, NO HUNTING, NO SHOOTING.

I also noticed that someone had spray-painted a big ugly red swastika over those words.

"I just want privacy, Mr. Coyne," Charlotte said. "That's why I live here. It doesn't seem like too much to ask."

"Do you know who—?"

"That swastika?" She shrugged. "You can't get away from them. I know exactly what they want. But it's not going to work. They don't scare me." She opened the door and slipped out of the car. She started down the rutted road into the woods, then stopped, turned, hesitated, and came back to the car. She put her hands on the rag top and bent to my window. "I forget my manners," she said. "You were very kind. Thank you."

"I'm glad I got the chance to meet you," I said. "I hope Jack gets better."

She reached in and touched my arm, smiled quickly, then stepped back. She narrowed her eyes and opened her mouth as if she wanted to say something. Then she shook her head. She lifted her hand. "Good-bye," she said. Then she turned and trudged down the roadway.

As I watched, an orange cat popped out of the bushes. Charlotte bent to it and scooped it into her arms. Then a black cat with a white blaze on its chest appeared, and then a tiger cat, and then another orange one, and as she disappeared into the woods, more cats joined the parade behind her.


Fifteen minutes later, I pulled into Alex's peastone driveway. The yard had been neglected when she'd moved in a year earlier, but now geraniums spilled out of window boxes and the boxwood shrubs were trimmed and the lawn was green. Alex spent mornings at her computer and afternoons puttering around the yard. "Decompressing," she called it. She had a pretty view from up there on her hilltop. Out back facing west, a meadow sloped down to a brook, then rose to a hillside planted in corn. On a clear day you could sometimes see the round-topped purple-and-green New Hampshire hills humping up on the horizon.

I took my newspaper inside, careful not to let the door slam, and poured a mug of coffee. Alex had set up her office at one end of the open downstairs, partitioning it off with chest-high bookcases. There she worked at her big flat-topped desk with her computer, her files, her telephone and fax machine, and her tape recorders.

I heard the soft buzz of voices coming from behind the partition and guessed she was listening to tapes of her interviews.

Alex's publisher had given her a nice advance for her book, which was to be an elaboration of a series she'd written for the Boston Globe. She was calling it The Legacy of Abuse. Her thesis, as I understood it, was that spouse abuse was symbiotic, that abusers and victims sought each other out, that both abusers and their victims tended to come from abusive families, and that abusive parents provided models for their children: Boys tended to emulate their abusive fathers, and girls sought out boys who behaved just like their daddies, the way their mothers had.

It wasn't, she said, a particularly original idea. Sociologists and psychologists had explored it thoroughly. But Alex's publisher believed that her powerful case studies would "popularize" it, and that her book would be a big seller.

She'd been working on it for almost a year. She'd moved to Garrison the previous Labor Day. The Globe had given her a two-year leave of absence, and she figured she could live that long on her advance, so two years was the deadline she'd set for herself to finish her book.

She'd given up her apartment on Marlborough Street in Boston's Back Bay, and she'd given up our nightly sleep-overs at my place overlooking the harbor. For almost a year I'd been driving up to Garrison, Maine, on Friday afternoons.

"Brady? That you?"

I peered over the bookcases. She was staring at her computer monitor through her big round glasses.

"I'm back," I said.

"Cool," she mumbled, still peering at the screen. "Have fun?"

I smiled. "I'll tell you all about it when you're done."

"Absolutely. Right."

Alex had the remarkable ability to write and talk at the same time, a talent she'd picked up in the Globe newsroom. But her conversations didn't always make much sense, and afterward she never remembered a thing we'd said to each other.

I took my coffee and newspaper out onto the deck that spanned the back of the house, sat in a rocking chair, and admired my woodpile. In the fall, we'd had three cords of hardwood dumped in the back. Got them cheap because they were green logs twelve feet long. It took me all winter with the chain saw to cut them into sixteen-inch woodstove lengths, and when I finished that, I'd begun splitting and stacking them. Now I was about half done.

Splitting and stacking wood was engrossing and rewarding work. I imagined that my shoulders and back had grown bulky and knotty with new muscles from the repeated, rhythmic lifting of the heavy splitting maul. I liked studying the grain on a chunk of cordwood, deciding where to hit it, then dropping the maul precisely there with just enough force to send the two halves flying. And I enjoyed stacking it, adjusting the split pieces of wood so they fit together, and watching my woodpile grow. It was like building a sturdy old New England stone wall that would withstand a hundred winters of frost heaves without toppling. It was good, healthy, old-fashioned Robert Frost New England work, a welcome relief from writing separation agreements and probating wills.

Splitting and stacking firewood was hypnotic and relaxing. It demanded my full attention on one level while allowing my mind to wander on another, and I didn't mind the backache that always followed. It gave me an excuse to drink a beer, take a hot leisurely shower, and afterward sprawl naked on the bed while Alex straddled me and gave me a long, languid backrub that usually ended with both of us under the sheets.

I would split no wood today. It was too damn hot. I sat on the deck on the shaded back side of the house, rocking and sipping my coffee and reading my Globe back to front. About the time I had turned to page two, I felt Alex's hand on my neck.

I reached up and steered her face down to mine.

She kissed my cheek. "Hi, babe," she said.

"Done for the day?"

"I've got a little transcribing I want to finish up." She plopped into the rocker beside me and put her heels on the deck rail. Her legs were smooth and tanned and shapely. She was wearing gray gym shorts and a dark blue sleeveless T-shirt. Her work clothes. Alex claimed that the best thing about holing up in a house in Maine to write a book was that she didn't have to wear panty hose or bras or high heels or makeup.

"Thought I'd take a coffee break," she said.

I lit a cigarette and offered her one.

She waved it away with the back of her hand. "How was your morning?" she said.

"I took a sick dog to the vet. Met a friend of yours."


"The lady with the sick dog. Charlotte Gillespie."

Alex shrugged. "I don't know her."

"Well, she seemed to know you."

"Hey," she said. "I'm a famous journalist."

"And soon you will be a famous author," I said.

"Yeah, maybe."

"She's an African-American woman," I said. "Forty, maybe. Very attractive."

She shrugged. "I haven't met any African-American women up here. Attractive, eh?"

"Yes. She reminded me of Lena Horne. She keeps a lot of pets, and she's got a No Trespassing sign by the woods road that leads to her house." I hesitated. "Somebody spray-painted a swastika on it."

"Huh?" said Alex. "A swastika?"

"Yes. A big hateful red one."

"Jesus," she murmured. "What a world."

Alex and I slept in the next morning. I made Canadian bacon and French toast for breakfast, which we drowned in real Maine maple syrup and ate on the deck. We lingered there sipping coffee, smoking, and watching a little flock of early-migrating warblers. We admired the way the slanting morning sunlight painted the countryside in vivid colors, and it was after nine by the time I climbed into my Jeep to fetch my Sunday Globe at Leon's.


Excerpted from Cutter's Run by William G. Tapply. Copyright © 1998 William G. Tapply. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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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Cutter's Run (Brady Coyne Series #15) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Kathy89 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brady is visiting his girlfriend in Maine when he encounters a woman walking her sick dog to the vet. The dog dies and then the woman disappears leading him into an investigation on what's going on in the quiet, rural little town.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Cat, wait!" He followed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The battke scarred cat turned startled
Guest More than 1 year ago
If your an Upland Gunner or a Fly Fisher,you know the Tapply name.Bill's Dad not only taught several generations how to fish and hunt but he introduced us to some of the greatest outdoor writers of our time,his son being one of them.What does that have to do with Cutter's Run? Well IMHO a mystery needs a credible lead character so one can get lost in the story.Brady Coyne is a man's man,it makes his adventures believable.He's a character "guys" can relate to and (though some wouldn't admit it)women swoon over.He's equally secure in the deep woods or in the middle of Boston.He's comfortable with who he is,but he's not brash about it.Now follow him about New England solving mysterys and you have the perfect book for a snowy day in the N.E. or a rained out day of fishing.Cutter's kept my sanity through Airline delays during a recent storm that shut down the airlines.The author helped me escape and isn't that what a good book does?