A prickly situation for Boston attorney Brady Coyne, who, in this ninth case, must decide whether to defend himself or protect his client when it appears that that client, Judge Chester Y. Popowski, has set him up. When his old friend ""Pops"" asks him to handle a possible blackmail situation, Brady agrees to meet the ""mystery man"" and assess his information. An hour later, the man is killed, then identified as a Channel 8 reporter, and Pops goes on vacation. Meanwhile, Brady, as the last person to see the victim alive, is Miranda-ized by the cops. Because of ""client privilege,"" he can't disclose why he met the man--nor can he verify that the long-married Pops had an affair with legal aide Karen Lavoie, as the blackmailer insisted, since Pops has vanished. In a remarkably unharried manner (considering that he's the main suspect), Brady nudges bits of information together--revealing not only Pops' affair but Karen's pregnancy; subsequent quickie marriage and almost as quick divorce; and recent pummeling (requiring hospitalization) at someone's hands. Pops? Alas, no: the wrap-up favors this year's most popular villain--the abusive parent. Incisive and sharp-edged until the last ten pages, which flatten into clichÃ‰. Brady, however, still has that old charm.