cover image The Snake Eater

The Snake Eater

William G. Tapply. Otto Penzler Books, $20 (273pp) ISBN 978-1-883402-04-4

In the 13th, and best yet, Brady Coyne mystery, the affable Boston lawyer investigates a case with roots in Vietnam and implications reaching to the highest levels of government. Daniel McCloud, a Vietnam vet suffering from exposure to Agent Orange, is busted in his small New England town for cultivation and possession of marijuana, which he uses to alleviate his pain. As a favor to a mutual friend, Coyne agrees to defend McCloud and then, after the case is dropped for no apparent reason, tries to help the former Green Beret find a publisher for the book he has written. Coyne's old college mate, now a literary agent, reads the manuscript, which Coyne has not seen, and suggests that the lawyer drop his involvement with the author. Soon the agent is murdered; next, McCloud is slain in gruesome fashion. Neither McCloud's live-in lover nor his cadre of Vietnam vet friends can shed light on the matter, not even after Coyne uncovers evidence that some earlier deaths among their circle are tied to recent events. Coyne presses for answers against all advice, exposing himself first to the business end of a sawed-off shotgun and, later, to a powerful man with unnamed government affiliation. Seen last in Death at Charity's Point , Brady Coyne is as human and likable as ever in this good, fast read. (Dec.)