Case #6 for Brady Coyne, lawyer to Boston's rich (Dead Meat, The Dutch Blue Error), now--in one of his lesser efforts--coming to the aid of real-estate millionaire Tom Baron, the folksy Republican candidate for governor. Though leery of Baron's politics, Brady is certainly sympathetic to his current crisis: Baron's teen-age son Buddy is missing--and a prime suspect in the murder of high-school girlfriend Alice Sylvester, a promiscuous cheerleader. So, while Baron's aides try to keep the whole thing as quiet as possible, Brady--an even more reluctant sleuth than usual--looks for Buddy, finds him, loses him, then finds him again. . .dead: apparently tortured and killed by two elusive, thuggish hit men. And the motive for both murders seems to be linked to Alice's drug use--and to a missing page of her high. school records. Before the unsurprising windup, Brady's lady-friend Sylvie is abused by the hit men (in graphic detail) and Brady himself survives a near-drowning ordeal. So the action, as always with Tapply, is steadily paced and shrewdly varied. But, though Coyne remains an agreeable narrator-hero, the plotting here is thinner and patchier than usual--with more interest in the sideline vignettes (e.g., Brady's drafting of a surrogate-motherhood contract) than the central story.