The Spotted Cats (Brady Coyne Series #10)

The Spotted Cats (Brady Coyne Series #10)

by William G. Tapply

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Overview

In this “practiced and talented” mystery, the Boston lawyer travels from Cape Cod to rural Montana to track down a hunter’s stolen trophies (Library Journal).
 Six years after the leopard attack that ended his career as a professional hunter, Jeff Newton is broken, crippled, and ready to die. His only pleasure is the occasional visit from Brady Coyne, Jeff’s no-nonsense Boston lawyer who’s come to Cape Cod to pay his respects to the old man.
As always, Brady is entranced by the ex-hunter’s houseful of trophies, none more dazzling than the seven Mexican leopard figurines. Solid-gold statues with jewels for eyes, they are priceless, beautiful—and about to be stolen.
The thieves club Jeff, cut Brady, and escape with the golden cats, leaving the two men for dead. Jeff ends up in a coma, and Brady sets out to retrieve the trophies. If the old hunter ever wakes up, Brady wants the leopards to be there to greet him.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480427389
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
Publication date: 08/06/2013
Series: Brady Coyne Series , #10
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 576
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

The Spotted Cats

A Brady Coyne Mystery


By William G. Tapply

MysteriousPress.com

Copyright © 1991 William G. Tapply
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-2738-9


CHAPTER 1

Sometimes i drive to Cape Cod voluntarily. In May, when the dimple of rising trout pock the surfaces of the little ponds in Nickerson State Park, for example. Or in early October, when they're harvesting cranberries and the blue-fish are schooling up in preparation for their southward migration and you need to wear a sweatshirt to walk the beaches.

I love Cape Cod in the winter, when it's bleak and cold the way it was when the Pilgrims first saw it.

I despise the Cape in the summer. Maybe it's because everyone else seems to love it so much then.

I never voluntarily drive down to the Cape on a Friday afternoon in July.

This trip was not voluntary. My secretary made me do it.

This was one time I shouldn't have listened to her. I should have stayed home that weekend. I could have slept late, watched the ball game, tied some flies, watched the late movie. Maybe I could've gone bass fishing with Charlie or invited Sylvie over for gin and tonics and a steak grilled on the hibachi on my balcony and a sleepover.

If I'd stayed home, instead of listening to Julie, none of it would have happened.


'Jeff Newton keeps calling,' she told me on a muggy Wednesday while we shared a midmorning coffee break in my office in Copley Square.

'Tell him I've gone fishin'.'

'That's what I've been doing. He's not easily put off.'

'What's the old shit want?'

'He wants you to go down there.'

'Christ. Why?'

She shrugged. 'Doesn't matter. You gotta go.'

'I don't wanna,' I said.

'That doesn't matter, either. It's your job. So you gotta do it.'

'Aw, nuts,' I said. I pounded my fist on my desk and scrunched up my face as if I was about to bawl. 'He's my client, and if I don't wanna visit him I don't hafta.'

There are times when a man has to assert himself.

Green eyes, black hair, fair skin, freckles lightly sprinkled across the bridge of her nose. Julie, my secretary. The Irish beauty. The Boss.

She folded her arms. She was trying not to smile. She succeeded. She looked as if she might rap my knuckles with a ruler.

'He called twice on Monday,' she said. 'Once yesterday. And again this morning. I don't feel like lying to him anymore. So get it out of the way, huh?'

I shrugged. 'There's no point to it. We've got no business. He's practically broke.'

'He's a lonely old man. For some obscure reason, he likes you. That's point enough.'

'He's a grouchy man is what he is,' I said. 'And not that old. He just looks it. Jeff Newton is a broken, defeated excuse for a human being, with nothing to live for except the arrival of the guy with the big sickle. He's no fun. He's a pain in the ass.'

Julie glared at me. She looks especially beautiful when she glares. Something about how her skin stretches across those great cheekbones of hers. 'He still pays you a retainer,' she said, sensing it was time to close in for the kill, knowing she was right, that she had me. 'Besides, it's what you do best. Visiting your clients, making them feel worthwhile. Invent some business for him. Tell him about the new tax law or something.'

'This is not what I envisioned my legal practice would be when I went to law school. Inventing business for clients. Paying house calls. Keeping them company. Letting them beat me at checkers. Wiping away their drool.'

'Jeez, Brady,' she said. 'Visiting your clients, making them feel worthwhile, is the main thing you do. It's what you're good at. Whether you like it or not, it's your niche. So you better get on with it.'

'Do I really hafta?'

She grinned away the glare. 'You hafta, pal.'

So I returned Jeff's call. Julie was right. He wanted me to visit him. 'I need to talk to you,' he said.

'Can't do it on the phone, huh?'

'Nope.'

'Gimme a hint.'

'The will. Some other stuff.'

I sighed. 'Yeah, well let me check my schedule.'

'Screw your schedule. This weekend. I know you don't do anything on weekends. Any reason you can't make it Friday suppertime?'

I told him the truth. Telling the truth is one of my weaknesses. It's the reason I have Julie screen my calls. She lies better than I do. So I told Jeff yeah, OK, he was right, I had no weekend plans, as usual, and there was no reason—aside from the fact that I loathed the thought of it—that I couldn't drive down and spend the weekend with him. I told him part of the deal was that I'd take his canoe on to his pond in the evening to see if I could catch some of those big rainbows that sipped tiny insects off the surface after the sun sank behind the hill. Jeff said he didn't give a shit one way or the other, which, from him, constituted unbounded enthusiasm.


The last time Joey, my younger son, borrowed my car, he left a collection of his tapes in it. I fumbled in the glove compartment while I drove, looking for my Mozart and Beethoven. All I came up with was something by a group called ZZ Top, which I unexpectedly liked, and then one by Van Halen, which I didn't. Then a treasure—Jimi Hendrix. And then The Who and Chicago and Three Dog Night and Janis Joplin and, mercy me, Chuck Berry.

I revised my opinion of the next generation's taste in music. They liked my old stuff. Good kids. Smart. There was hope.

And I got to play it all as I sat in a great cloud of automobile exhaust, bumping and stopping in first gear on Route 3 all the way from Marshfield to the Sagamore Bridge.

Cape Cod in the summer. Humbug.

Grinding along in that traffic gave me time to ponder the message I'd found on the answering machine in my apartment before I'd left. It was from Joey. He said: 'Dad. It's Joey. Give me a call.' That was all.

When I listened to it, I got a vaguely uneasy sense that I couldn't pinpoint. There was nothing in his tone, nothing in the content of his message, that seemed disturbing. I'd tried calling him back, of course. But all I got was Gloria's businesslike message. 'You've reached the Coyne residence. Please leave your number and we'll get right back to you.' I told her machine that I was returning Joey's call, that I'd be away for the weekend, and that I'd call again when I got back. Then I loaded up my car and pointed it towards Orleans on the Cape.

But after Joey's message had a chance to rattle around in my head during that slow drive down Route 3, I recognized what it was that bothered me.

Dad. Joey never called me 'Dad'. It was always Pop, or Old Man. And he'd called himself Joey, too. He hadn't done that since he turned twelve. That's when he became Joe. Joe Coyne. Tough, grown-up Joe Coyne. Gloria and I still called him Joey, of course, and he tolerated it. But to his friends and teachers—and especially to himself—it was Joe.

Another thing about that brief phone message. No joke, no wisecrack, not even a hint about what he wanted. That, too, was uncharacteristic.

I concluded that something was wrong, and a small wart of fear took up residence in my stomach. If something was wrong with my son, then something was wrong with me. Maybe I'd have a chance to call him from Jeff's place. I expected to have plenty of loose time. It promised to be a long, boring weekend.

There's a big sign where you swing around the rotary on to the bridge. It says, 'Desperate? Call the Samaritans.' For all the weekend commuters, I guessed. I suspected the Samaritans did a big business in the summer, what with desperate traffic-jammed vacationers trying to drive off the bridge into the canal.

I hooked on to Route 6A after the bridge, and it went faster, through salt marshes and over tidal creeks and past all the neat little authentic silver-shingled Cape Cod houses and antique shops.

It took me three and a quarter hours that Friday afternoon in July to drive from my apartment off Atlantic Avenue on the Boston Harbour to Jeff Newton's place on Quashnet Lane in Orleans, down at the narrow bend of the Cape's elbow. I figured I averaged thirty miles an hour.

I wound up the long driveway past several 'Beware of Dogs' signs and tucked my BMW under the canopied branches of a wind-twisted Cape Cod pine tree. The other car there was a white Cherokee four-wheel drive. It belonged to Lily Robbins, Jeff Newton's full-time housekeeper. Jeff didn't drive any more.

I grabbed my overnight bag from the backseat and stepped out. Even on the hilltop, no sea breeze stirred the humid summer air. Somewhere in the shimmering afternoon heat a bobwhite whistled. In the distance off to my left stretched a silvery ribbon of the Atlantic Ocean, blurred in the afternoon haze so that the line between ocean and sky was fuzzy. Down the hill to my right huddled Thomas Jefferson Newton's trout pond.

Jeff's little compound lay ahead of me, at the top of the hill at the end of a wide pathway. I clunked the car door shut, giving it plenty of emphasis. I didn't want to take the dogs by surprise.

I approached the gate, ten feet of heavy-gauge one-inch chain link wired on to steel crosspieces. The fence enclosed Jeff's rambling unstained cedar-shingled bungalow and the three or four acres of grounds, the retreat from which he rarely ventured since he returned there, six years earlier, mangled in body and spirit.

The two Dobermans crouched inside the gate waiting for me. They were sleek and black and thoroughly malign, with narrowed hate-filled eyes. When they spotted me, their lips curled back from their fangs. The muscles along their shoulders rippled with nervous anticipation. They wanted to rip flesh from my bones. Good clean doggie fun. It's what they lived for.

I reached for the pull rope and clanged the big brass bell to announce my arrival. That's when the dogs began to leap.

They hurled themselves against the fence. They didn't bark or growl. They whined high in their throats, as if I was withholding their dinner from them, which I suppose is how they saw it. Savage, stupid, single-minded, again and again they attacked the fence, throat-high on a man, the claws of all four of their feet clinging momentarily to the mesh at each onslaught before they fell back, only to leap again. Their teeth snapped at the fence as they would have preferred to snap at my face.

'Come on, guys,' I said. 'It's me, your old pal, Brady. Cut it out.'

The sound of my voice intensified their mindless efforts. The two of them crashed against the chain link, one after the other. Saliva dripped from their flashing teeth. I would have felt better if they had barked or at least growled.

I approached to within a foot of the fence. 'Tondo,' I said softly.

The first dog sat instantly, cocked his head at me, lolled out his tongue, and began to pant.

'Ngwenya,' I said to the other dog, slurring the consonants the way Jeff had taught me. The second dog, too, sat.

Jeff had named his twin Dobermans after the African game he used to kill. He had patiently taught me how to pronounce their names, which served as passwords with the dogs. If you knew their names, you were their friends, and therefore immune from attack. Few people knew the dogs' names. Few people entered Jeff Newton's compound.

Tondo was the African word for an old tuskless elephant, a fiercer, more aggressive critter than his ivoried counterpart. Tondo would not bluff. Tondo was grouchy, quick-tempered, ruthless.

Ngwenya was the croc. Jeff once told me that crocodiles polished off an average often human beings a day in Africa, making them the most prolific mankillers on the dark continent. When a croc's jaws glom on to an animal, human or otherwise, it drags it to the bottom of the river and rams it into the mud under a log until the victim's flesh ages to suit the croc's palate. Jeff says he once saw a twelve-foot crocodile grab a two-ton hippo by the nose and haul it under water until the big stupid herbivore drowned.

Jeff hated crocodiles. And he had no particular love for tuskless elephants, either. They had personalities to match his Dobermans. Jeff Newton did love his dogs. They were about the only living creatures he did love. Perhaps, in his own way, he loved Lily. He claimed to like me.

Jeff despised himself.

I yanked the pull rope again. The bell bonged. A minute later Lily came down the path. She unlocked the gate, pulled it open, smiled, and held her hand to me.

'Ah, Brady,' she said. 'Boy, is it good to see you.'

I gripped her hand. She pecked a kiss on to my cheek. 'Himself's been looking forward to seeing you,' she said. She had a musky smell, a complex compound of clean sweat, salt air, and flower blossoms.

'Can't honestly say it's mutual,' I said, returning her chaste kiss. 'But you are looking absolutely great.'

She wore blue jogging shorts and the flowered bikini top of a bathing suit. Lily was a big girl, only a couple inches shorter than I, and meaty. But her meat was firm muscle, so that she gave the illusion of slenderness, especially in shorts. She had long legs, still shapely, and a heavy but solid bosom. Creases along the sides of her mouth and streaks of grey in her black hair betrayed her age. Fortyish, I guessed. She had been with Jeff for nearly fifteen years.

A red bandana was wrapped around her forehead. She was, as usual, barefoot. Beads of perspiration stood out on her chest and forehead. 'Oh, hell, I'm a mess,' she said. 'I was pulling some weeds from the rock garden out back when I heard the bell.' She tucked a wisp of hair back under the bandana. 'Well, come on in.'

She took my overnight bag and grabbed my arm. We went through the gate. 'Down,' said Lily to the dogs.

The two dogs stretched out their forelegs and lay down. They flattened their chins on to their knees and followed us with their eyes. I reached down and scratched the muzzles of each of them, muttering their names again. 'Tondo. Ngwenya,' I said, using my best 'nice puppy' tone. 'You nasty sons of bitches. You should both be shot.' They jiggled their little stub tails in appreciation.

Lily laughed. 'Did they behave themselves for you?'

'Impeccably, as usual. They wanted to tear my throat out.'

She grinned. 'You spoke their names.'

'Yes. Magic words. Where's Jeff?'

She jerked her head towards the house. 'On the terrace. Staring off towards the ocean, as usual. As if he could see Africa if he looked hard and long enough.'

'How is he?'

She shrugged. 'No better than last time you were here. No worse, either, I suppose. Up and down, as usual. He sleeps. He stares at the sea. Sometimes manic, usually depressive. He looks forward to his doctor's visit. The highlight of his week. Except, of course, when you come to call.' She hugged my arm against her breast. She was strong. I couldn't have resisted if I'd wanted to. Which I didn't. 'Come on,' she said. 'You always cheer him up. And the martinis are all mixed.'

She led me into the cool interior of the house. Floor-to-ceiling windows gave a long view of the ocean. I paused by the series of glass cases that were lined up on the table beside the fireplace.

'The jaguars,' I said. 'God, they're beautiful.'

Lily, standing beside me still holding my arm, nodded. 'I never tire of looking at them.'

There were seven of them, each under its own glass dome. Solid gold jaguars with oval emerald eyes, fashioned centuries earlier in the crude impressionistic style of Mayan artisans. Each was sixteen or eighteen inches long from the tip of nose to tip of tail. They had been moulded in different positions—some crouched, some caught in mid running stride, some standing with their heads held high, as if they were sniffing the jungle breezes. I had hefted one of them once, and its weight had surprised me.

But mainly it was the eyes, those opaque, pale green eyes without pupils, that fascinated me. Primitive, deadly fire seemed to glow inside those eyes.

My friend Daniel LaBreque from the Museum of Fine Arts brought down his assistant, Maria Conway, who specialized in Mayan and Aztec artifacts, to appraise those seven cats soon after Jeff brought them home. They agreed that the fourteen emerald eyes alone put the value of the collection in the early six figures. Then there was the gold, primitively smelted yet as pure as the ingots that theoretically backed American currency. Nearly one hundred pounds of gold. 'Fort Knox,' Dan had said. 'By God, this is Fort Knox gold.'

Dan estimated their worth at one-point-two million dollars. Maria put it nearer one-point-seven.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Spotted Cats by William G. Tapply. Copyright © 1991 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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The Spotted Cats (Brady Coyne Series #10) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
busterrll on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A cut above a regular dectective novel. Better than average plot but more than a bit unbelievable in parts. A quick read.