The Honorable Chester Y. Popowski (“Pops” to his friends from Yale Law School, of whom Brady Coyne is one) has been nominated for the Federal District Court, a fact that makes him an ideal blackmail target. The blackmail centers on a delicate problem for a man in his public position; accordingly, he asks Coyne--not only his old friend but also, for fifteen years, his lawyer--to deal with it.
The real intrigue begins when the would-be blackmailer is murdered soon after publicly arguing with Coyne. Coyne cannot tell the police why he was meeting the victim without revealing his client and his client’s problem, which would violate the lawyer’s stringent code of ethics. Coyne soon begins to wonder, however, whether he has been set up--has Popowski,knowing Coyne’s unimpeachable integrity regarding client privilege, killed the blackmailer and framed his friend? To protect his honor and preserve his freedom, Coyne must prove who murdered the blackmailer without directly exposing Popowski’s previous peccadillo. Coyne is a fairly laid-back kind of fellow, and it is really his secretary, Julie, who keeps his business going: Coyne would rather hang his GONE FISHIN’ sign on the door most days of the week. A murder charge threatening him, though, is just the sort of thing to galvanize him into action.
Coyne is not a choppy-sock sort of hero, however, and the action is more a figure of speech in this book; there is minimal violence, especially for a detective novel. Rather, CLIENT PRIVILEGE is an account of Coyne’s personal life, as he loses his faith in his friend and as he tries to come to terms with his relationship with his former wife, whom he still loves after ten years of being divorced.