THE DUTCH BLUE ERROR by William G. Tapply


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Again, as in his Death at Charity's Point debut (p. 67), narrator-sleuth Brady Coyne--Boston lawyer, semi-abashed lackey for wealthy clients--is himself the strongest attraction of Tapply's second mystery. This time Brady is hired by elderly Oliver Weston to exchange $250,000 of Weston cash for an old stamp--a rarity known as the ""Dutch Blue Error."" Why? Because super-collector Weston supposedly owns the only Dutch Blue Error, a unique item worth over a million dollars--and must buy this duplicate (from a shadowy seller) to preserve the value of his prize possession. So, after meeting the pseudonymous seller and authenticating his duplicate (at Harvard's Peabody Museum), Brady arranges for the transaction to go ahead. But the seller--who turns out to be a State employee named Francis X. Shaughnessey--never shows up to complete the deal. . . because he's been murdered! The stamp, of course, is nowhere to be found--despite help from Shaughnessey's daughter, who starts out hostile but winds up as Brady's new romance. And eventually, after another murder, police harassment of Brady's black legal assistant (a supposed murder-suspect), and some charming excursions into philately, Brady stages an elaborate, Nero-Wolfean unmasking of the culprit--with stamp-switching revelations and an excessive final dollop of melodrama. As before, despite a few effortful plot wrinkles: above-average mystery entertainment, brightened by the Boston locales, the vivid supporting cast, and Brady's gently ironic narration.

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 1984
Publisher: Scribners