Affable, easygoing attorney Brady Coyne spearheads another investigation as his friends and clients enmesh him into another detective story in Massachusetts. The author builds his foundation slowly giving the reader an excellent sense of the Massachusetts countryside at election time.
One has the feeling that Brady will never be anything but a laid back
country attorney who avoids controversy and adversarial relationships whenever possible. I do understand the ethical issues involved in an attorney’s possible conflict of interest, but I have never seen it be quite the shield that Brady relies upon.
Ellen Stoddard, former District Attorney and friendly acquaintance of Brady is running for United States Senator and the story opens as her campaign manager Jimmy D. approaches Brady for help. Ellen is worried about the change in her husband Albert in the past few months. He has become secretive and furtive, refusing to explain his conduct. Jimmy fears an affair. Ellen just knows something is wrong and refuses to let herself jump to conclusions.
Ellen has agreed that something proactive must be done. In order to
distance the campaign from anything unsavory, the plan is to have Brady
hire an investigator to follow Albert and find out what is going on.
Gordon Cahill, retired cop now PI, is one of the most discreet, if
not the best, in the business. Utilizing the Internet he quickly hones in on Albert and some unusual payments. In hot pursuit, he calls Brady making an appointment the following Monday morning to reveal all. Meanwhile, he e-mails Brady evidence of the paper trail he is following.
Monday morning comes and Brady shows up in Gordon’s office, only to be met by homicide detective. Gordon is dead, having been incinerated in a car fire when he ran off the road and hit a tree. The detective, a former partner of Gordon’s, is investigating on his own time because he does not believe his friend would ever be so reckless.
Later when it is discovered the tire had been shot out, Brady becomes
motivated and starts searching for Albert believing him to be the key. What he finds and the past that he must reopen is unexpected. The author does a nice easy job of revealing threads of the plot slowly.
Shadow of Death is peopled with distinctive likeable characters. However, these characters function in an environment that is almost tension free without excesses of emotion. Also, with respect to the “proverbial bad guy,” there is really no great sense of evil in the familiar plot line.
Instead it becomes a story gently and evenly told in the best of prose. The only criticism that can be made of the writing style is the author’s fondness for compound sentences that run on and on.
It may be a welcome relief to some readers that the focus is on the writing process, rather than the dynamics and energy that usually characterize a thriller or suspense story.