Walt Duffy was a world-renowned ornithologist, outdoorsman, and nature photographer who spent his life traveling and taking some of the most highly regarded photographs of birds in their natural habitats. Until, that is, over a year ago, when a climbing accident left him paraplegic. Now he spends his time in the backyard of his brownstone in Boston, with only his dog and his teen-aged son Ethan for company.
Brady Coyne, Walt's long-time friend and attorney, handles his routine legal affairs and is asked by Walt to deliver a set of Meriweather Lewis letters to a rare book dealer for authentication. Shortly after, responding to a call from Duffy, Coyne stops by after work only to find Walt dead - murdered - in his backyard. Robbery is dismissed as a motive when the only thing that turns up missing is Walt's laptop. Equally disturbing is the fact that Ethan, Walt's son, is missing without a trace, any sign of struggle, or any clue to where he may have gone. There is also evidence that Walt was somehow involved in a notorious eco-terrorist group that is currently taking deadly action around the Boston area.
With the FBI and the Boston police watching him closely, the eco-terrorists escalating dramatically, and Ethan still missing, Brady finds himself in the center of an increasingly dangerous plot. With the death toll mounting, Brady realizes he has to find the missing Ethan and unravel the complex puzzle before either of them becomes the latest victim.
Brady Coyne (Past Tense; Scar Tissue; etc.) has been around for almost two decades now, and the low-key, fly-fishing Boston lawyer with an overly developed need for self-reliance has never been in better form. Among Coyne's clients who are also personal friends is Walt Duffy, a nature photographer recently derailed by a paralyzing accident. Duffy asks Coyne to carry a packet of letters, purported to be from explorer Meriwether Lewis to ornithologist Alexander Wilson, to a noted book dealer for authentication. Soon thereafter, Duffy is dead from a suspicious accident; his son, Ethan, is missing; and Coyne is about to embark on a case that will once again test not only his ability to survive but his willingness to accept help and support from others. As the case escalates from accident to murder, an amorphous group of ecoterrorists, using arson as a primary weapon, begins to emerge as suspects. A deadly arsonist uses our hero as a pawn, forcing the attorney to comply with his demands or put others at deadly risk. At the same time police and FBI press Coyne to cooperate. Coyne's tendency to draw into himself and face the problem alone may be the wrong decision, especially since it threatens his deepening relationship with girlfriend Evie Banyon. Tapply consistently delivers well-written, well-constructed and thoroughly entertaining mysteries, and his latest is a fine addition to the series. Regional author tour.