Despite some strained, iffy plotting: a promising debut for reluctant sleuth Brady Coyne, an obliging pet-lawyer for rich folks in the Boston area--like elderly, no-nonsense Florence Gresham, who insists that Brady look into the cliff-leap ""suicide"" of her son George. (Her other son, Win, was reported killed years ago in Vietnam.) Florence is convinced that mild-mannered prep-school teacher George was murdered; Brady is dubious. Still, he dutifully makes inquiries at The Ruggles School, where the contrived murder suspects include: George's hostile colleagues; a neo-Nazi student activist; football star Harvey, who plagiarized a paper (on Weatherman-type terrorists) for George's class. Brady also finds romance at the School--in the person of drama-teacher Rina Prescott (some extraneous sex). But the truth about George's death doesn't start surfacing till Mrs. Gresham becomes convinced that long-lost son Win is really still alive. And there's a stagey clifftop finale--as Brady unmasks a close-to-home culprit (paging Mary Astor yet again) and a shaky murder-motive linked to the past (cf. Jane Alpert, Kathy Boudin et al.). Fairly unsatisfying as murder-mystery, then--but lonely, divorced Brady is a likable hero; his narration is wry, understated, fast; and the Boston/North Shore backgrounds are neatly, engagingly sketched.