Dead Meat (Brady Coyne Series #5)

Dead Meat (Brady Coyne Series #5)

by William G. Tapply

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Overview

When Native Americans claim a friend’s fishing lodge as protected land, lawyer Brady Coyne heads to Maine—where a complex case quickly turns deadly.
 He may be a millionaire, but Vern Wheeler never forgot that he is a son of Maine—land of big sky, wide lakes, and the fattest salmon on the East Coast. To escape the boardroom, he buys a rundown fishing lodge in the wilds of his home state, and with his brother turns it into the most fashionable retreat in New England. After years of happy fishing, the Wheelers have no interest in selling Raven Lodge. But a local Native American group won’t take no for an answer.
Claiming that Raven Lodge is located on protected land, the Native Americans threaten to sue for ownership of the property, and Wheeler sends his attorney, fishing enthusiast Brady Coyne, to negotiate. But when Brady arrives at Raven Lake, he finds danger in and out of the water. A fisherman has been scalped, and placid, idyllic Maine is about to erupt into mayhem.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480427440
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
Publication date: 08/06/2013
Series: Brady Coyne Series , #5
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 213
Sales rank: 286,942
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

Dead Meat

A Brady Coyne Mystery


By William G. Tapply

MysteriousPress.com

Copyright © 1987 William G. Tapply
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-2744-0


CHAPTER 1

The voice boomed over the phone, all the way from the pay phone in Greenville, Maine. "Brady, it's Anthony Wheeler. How the hell are you?"

He was the only one who called himself Anthony. He was a boulder of a man, with a cavern for a chest and a great hard stomach and a bush of a black beard, only lately gone over to gray. So naturally everyone else called him Tiny.

Tiny Wheeler was an old-time Maine guide, half owner and manager of the Raven Lake Lodge up there in the wilds of the Pine Tree State, not far from the Canadian border.

Tiny liked to tell how he had once punched a black bear on the nose. "Sonofabuck was gnawing at my best paddle," he said. "Gave him my best shot, and by God he went cross-eyed before he turned tail and ran." No one really doubted the story.

"You didn't dial me person-to-person collect to ask how I am," I said. "I happen to be fine. So's my ex-wife and two boys. What's up, Tiny?"

"Salmon are bitin' like snakes up here. Naturally made me think of you."

"Naturally," I said.

"Wonderin' if you might enjoy a week or two up here on Raven Lake. Have Gib meet you at the seaplane dock in Greenville, fly you in. Old Woody's available for guidin'. Bud Turner's still the best cook north of Boston. Whaddya say?"

"I say what do you really want?"

"Aw, hey," said Tiny. Then he chuckled. "Wouldn't do no harm if you were to stop in on a fella named Seelye Smith in Portland on your way up."

"Who's this Smith?"

"Lawyer fella, like yourself. I just hired him to help out with a little problem. Would have asked you to take care of it, 'cept this Smith's a Maine boy, specialist in Indian problems, and he was recommended."

"So what do you want me to do, Tiny?"

I imagined his broad grin as he spoke into the phone, his gold incisor glittering from inside his gray beard. "Check out this fella. Make sure I didn't hire me a wimp. While you're at it, get a handle on my situation if you can. Then hike your tail up here and explain it to me."

"What situation?" I swiveled around in my office chair to stare out at the Boston skyline. A helluva long way from Raven Lake, up there northwest of Moosehead Lake.

"Aw, it's the damn Indians. They wanna buy me out."

"So tell them to stuff it."

"These are the Indians, Brady." I heard Tiny sigh. "Smith'll explain it to you. Okay? Check him out, get the dope for me, then get your ass up here and catch some salmon."

"What's Vern say about this?"

Vern Wheeler was Tiny's older brother, half owner of the Raven Lake Lodge, one of Boston's most prominent businessmen, and my client. Vern was the main brains of the Wheeler family. Tiny was the charm and the brawn. Tiny rarely did anything without Vern's approval.

"I don't want to bother Vern about this," said Tiny after an instant's hesitation. "I can handle it."

"You ought to apprise Vern," I said.

"You can do that for me."

"You've got to tell me more, then."

He sighed. "Okay, Counselor. It's your dime. It goes like this. The Indians have offered to buy Raven Lake, lock, stock, and barrel. I have turned down their offer. Told them the place wasn't for sale. They came back, threatened a suit. Claim the old burial ground entitles them to the place."

"Burial ground?"

"Yeah. Up there where Harley's Creek divides there's a place we always called the burial ground. Local folks think it's haunted. These Indians are saying that if we won't deal with them, they'll claim the place."

"Can they do that?"

"Well, dammit, Coyne, that's what I want to know, okay?"

"Have they actually filed suit?"

"Nope, Just threatened. What they really seem to want to do is dicker with me. I've told 'em nothin' to dicker about."

I hesitated. "They really biting like snakes, Tiny?"

"Swear to Christ. Best salmon fishin' in years."

"I'll have to check it out with my boss."

"Boss? You don't have a boss, Brady. You're your own boss."

"You forget Julie."

"She's your secretary, ain't she? The one who answered the phone?"

"Same difference," I said.


The old man had chosen a bench with a view of both a formal garden of yellow roses and the duck pond. Behind him, George Washington, dressed in full Revolutionary War regalia and about twice life-size, sat astride his horse, which was frozen in mid-canter atop a big granite pedestal. A starling perched on the general's left shoulder.

The Public Garden was at its lushest on this sunny afternoon in June. It looked as I imagined Frederick Law Olmsted must have visualized it when he designed it a hundred-odd years ago. The flower beds glowed in pastels and neons, weeded clean and freshly mulched. The lawns shimmered emerald green. The grand old willows and beeches and maples had leafed out thickly, grateful, it seemed, that this was a down year in the gypsy-moth cycle.

I stood beside General Washington, sniffing the mingled aromas of the flowers, the ocean, and the fresh-cut grass—that rare clean-air miracle created by the driving rain of the previous day and the purging easterly breeze that followed in its wake.

It was the kind of day I'd prefer to spend casting dry flies for brown trout on the Deerfield River rather than walking the streets of Boston. On the other hand, if I had to be in the city, there were worse places than the Boston Public Garden.

The old man on the bench wore a rumpled seersucker jacket and baggy chino pants. Thin strings of white hair hung over his ears and forehead. He hunched forward arthritically as he scattered popcorn to the flock of city pigeons that had gathered at his feet. They fluttered and flapped and scrambled over each other in their greed. The old man seemed to be studying their behavior.

I strolled over and slid onto the bench beside him. He glanced up at me, grinned briefly, and held out the half-filled bag of popcorn to me. I grabbed a handful and popped one into my mouth. "Hell, it's stale," I said.

"The birds seem to like it better stale," he answered.

I threw the rest of my popcorn as far from the bench as I could. I was gratified to see the pigeons scramble stupidly away in pursuit.

"They're filthy creatures, Vern," I said to the old man. "They'll shit all over your shoes."

"It's all relative, my friend," he said mildly. "Pigeons are much like people, don't you think? They'll go wherever we toss the popcorn, and they'll shit on anybody's shoes to get there. Including the shoes of the man who's handing out the popcorn."

"Especially the shoes of the popcorn man," I amended.

He smiled. "Well, anyhow, it's about all we've got for wildlife around here."

Anyone who didn't know him would have mistaken Vernon Wheeler for another derelict enjoying the delicious comfort of a warm June afternoon with the pigeons. He was, in fact, the founder and owner of one of the world's most successful industries and a man who could, if he chose, conduct his business from the office building he owned on Tremont Street or from one of his offices in Los Angeles, Denver, Antwerp, or Tokyo.

Those were the places he met with his bevies of corporate lawyers.

He preferred to meet with me, his personal legal adviser, on a bench in the Boston Public Garden.

Vern Wheeler was typical of my clientele. He was old, smart, eccentric, and rich. I've found that most rich people tend to be old, smart, and eccentric. I like them best when they're all those things. In fact, I specialize in solving the legal problems of old, smart, eccentric, rich people. They rarely come to me for specialized expertise or courtroom savoir faire. When they do, I help them find it elsewhere than the office of Brady L. Coyne, Attorney-at-Law. Mostly they come to me because I offer a surprisingly rare commodity: discretion.

I am discreet as hell. I can't help it. I can't take credit for it. It's my nature. It's how I was raised. Or perhaps it's in my cautious WASP genes. I am always surprised how old, smart, eccentric, rich people want to pay me lots of money for this accident of my personality.

"You didn't call me because you wanted to help me feed the pigeons," said Vern. "What's on your mind?"

I told him what Tiny had told me over the phone. "So I'm going up there, check up on Seelye Smith, see if I can give Tiny a hand. Tiny wanted me to fill you in."

"Tiny's afraid of talking to his own brother?"

"I don't think he wanted to bother you."

"I'm half owner of the place. I've got a right to know what's going on."

I put my hand on his bony knee. "That's why we're here."

He held the paper bag upside down and dumped what was left of the popcorn onto the pavement. Then he wadded up the bag and stuffed it into his jacket pocket. He sighed, then turned to face me. "Goddamn Indians, anyways."

Vern had a way of saying "goddamn" that betrayed his Skowhegan, Maine origins. It sounded like "gawd day-em" when he said it. I always suspected that he consciously cultivated the down-easterliness of his speech. In fact, it seemed to me that over the years I had known him he actually injected "ay-yuh" more and more often into his conversation—on the assumption, I figured, that the simple country-bumpkin facade gave him an edge over yuppies and other city types. He saw through people with the same clarity as an old Maine lobsterman, and he outsmarted them routinely.

During the Depression, Vern had paid for an engineering degree from MIT by guiding city sports on summer fishing expeditions up the Kennebec River and into the Allagash wilderness. He taught demolition during the war, on the government's theory that a man who knew how to construct things would be the best man to tell others how to destroy them. Vern liked to say that the science of destruction was not much different from the art of creation, anyway.

After the war, he went back to Maine and bought into a small printing firm. By 1949 he owned it outright, and by 1957 he had amassed a tidy little fortune. He wet his forefinger, stuck it into the breeze, and Vern Wheeler saw the future—not plastics, as Dustin Hoffman was informed in the movie, but computers. And those computers would need programs to tell them what to do.

So Vern came to Boston and started up a firm that created and marketed educational software long before the machines to use it properly had been sufficiently refined. He understood what "programmed learning" promised, and he was able to envision the day when technology would catch up. When it did, Vern Wheeler was ready. By 1970 he had expanded, diversified, and opened corporate offices in strategic locations throughout the world.

He had also acquired ownership of at least one United States congressman—which, as he liked to say, "didn't do a damn bit of harm."

He also liked to say, "You can take the man out of Maine, but you can't take Maine out of the man." So as soon as he could afford it, Vern bought a run-down sporting camp and most of the acreage on the shores of Raven Lake, a crescent-shaped body of water tucked up in the northwest corner of the state. He gave his younger brother, Tiny, half interest in the place and hired him to run it.

Raven Lake Lodge was more than a business diversion and tax write-off for Vern. It was a place he loved. He refused to let Tiny open the place for business until two weeks after ice-out, normally in early May. Those first two weeks belonged to Vern and his friends, because that's when the landlocked salmon fishing was best.

With Vern's money and Tiny's hard work, Raven Lake Lodge became one of the classiest—and most expensive—sporting camps in Maine. In the spring and summer, city sports could count on superior fishing for landlocked salmon, brook trout (which the natives called "square-tails"), lake trout ("togue"), and smallmouth bass. In September, hunters flocked to the place, hoping to kill a black bear. Come October, they could shoot partridge and woodcock over the points of Tiny's kennel of English setters, and in November Raven Lake was a hot spot for whitetail deer.

It was, in fact, at Raven Lake in 1976 where I first met Vernon Wheeler. The ice had been out for three weeks, so the place had opened for official business. My friend Doc Adams, the master oral surgeon, had gotten wind of the fabulous salmon fishing there, and he had no trouble persuading me to take a week off to share it with him.

On the third day of our stay Doc claimed his arms were tired from hauling in so many large salmon, a complaint that I didn't share, and he decided to test the trout fishing at Harley's Creek for the day. I hadn't had my fill of hauling in large salmon, so I found myself in a canoe with Woody, our Penobscot Indian guide, and a taciturn old guy who was known around the lodge only as "Vern." I didn't realize until later that he owned the place. It turned out to be one of those rare days when the salmon refused to bite, and although Vern and I flailed away with our fly rods until our arms ached, we returned to the lodge in the afternoon empty-handed. Doc resumed salmon fishing the next day, promising to show me how it was done, and I saw little of Vern during the rest of our stay.

But a couple of weeks later he called me at my office back in Boston. "This is Vernon Wheeler," he said.

"Yes?" I answered, drawing a blank.

"You and I got skunked up on Raven Lake."

"Oh, sure," I said. "How are you?"

"Been checking up on you. I like to check up on people. Especially on men who stick to the fly rod when the salmon aren't biting. There's usually something to be said for men like that."

"You stuck to the fly rod, too."

"That's what I mean," he said. "I spoke to an old friend of mine this morning. Florence Gresham."

Florence Gresham had been my very first client. She was a flinty old Yankee lady who owned a mansion on the water in Beverly Farms, on Boston's North Shore, and spent her summers in what she called her "cottage" in Bar Harbor, the swankiest part of Maine. "Florence is one of my favorite people," I said.

I heard Wheeler chuckle. "That's exactly what she said you'd say. Anyhow, you come well recommended. I need a man I can trust. I figured I could trust a man who'd stick to the fly rod. Florence assures me that while my body is decaying, my instincts remain acute."

"What do you need me for?"

"Right now, nothing special. But things come up. I like to be prepared."

"Well, I'm like you, Mr. Wheeler," I said. "I like a man who sticks to the fly rod. I can also afford to be particular, and, like you, I always check out what my instincts suggest. So why don't you leave me your number and I'll get back to you."

He chuckled again. "Florence said you'd say that, too. She's waiting for your call."

Florence Gresham's recommendation was, for her, effusive. "Vernon Wheeler's not half bad," she told me. "Of course, I wouldn't want to be married to the man."

So Vern Wheeler joined my small but select group of clients. I fiddled with his will every year or so, advised him on matters that were usually more personal than legal, served as a sounding board for his opinions, checked on the reliability of some of the advice he received from his corporate attorneys, and let him buy me lunch at expensive Boston restaurants.

For this he paid me an outrageous retainer.

It seemed to be an arrangement that, all in all, we both found eminently satisfactory.

And several times after that he invited me and my friends up to Raven Lake right after ice-out, before the paying sports arrived. Doc Adams and Charlie McDevitt and I usually made a threesome of it. We caught lots of salmon on flies, which was worth more to me than the retainer.

Vern's curse about the "goddamn Indians" reminded me of the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot guides who worked at Raven Lake. "Tiny mentioned old Woody," I said. "He's the last of the Indian guides, isn't he?"

"Yep. The rest've died or gone back to the city." He looked down at the pigeons, which were still scratching around for bits of popcorn. "Hell, maybe it's time to sell the place, anyways."

"I don't think Tiny wants to sell."

Vern shrugged. "Tiny usually goes along with what I say. Raven Lake ain't a big moneymaker."

"It's Tiny's life, Vern."

He nodded. "Yes. That it is." He sighed. "You'd think, in this land of the free, that a man wouldn't have to sell anything he didn't want to sell. But we're talking about Maine, now, and Maine, as you know…"

"Is the home of the braves," I finished for him. "An old line, Vern."

He chuckled. "This any kind of a case, Brady?"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Dead Meat by William G. Tapply. Copyright © 1987 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.
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