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John Francis Cuddy

Cuddy is more moral than religious, a man who believes strongly in representing his clients, keeping his promises, and ferreting out the truth. He stays sexually faithful to the memory of his dead wife, waiting until he finds someone he thinks can replace Beth in his life.

He even goes to the cemetery where she’s buried (overlooking the harbor in their old South Boston neighborhood) and has graveside "conversations" with her as a way of dealing with his loss. As mystery author Nancy Pickard once put it: "John Francis Cuddy is the man every woman wishes she’d met her senior year of college."

Back Bay

Cuddy has a wise-cracking sense of humor, but he can also be credibly violent, having learned in the Army the martial art of Jukado as well as how to handle many firearms.

To stay in shape, Cuddy jogs along the Charles River (where he trained for the Boston Marathon) and works out at a Nautilus club in the "yuppie" Victorian neighborhood of Back Bay, where he now rents a condo from a doctor doing a residency in Chicago.

Cuddy walks through the Public Garden and the Boston Common to his office on Tremont Street, the windows showing a view of the golden dome of the Massachusetts State House, the white spire of the Park Street Church, and the human kaleidoscope of the central Boston subway station.

Boston Common  Public Garden


Cuddy soon finds that, in the same way the traditional cowboy brought law to a lawless land, he as an investigator can bring justice to a law-bound society, focussing on the kinds of cases the formal "system" just doesn’t handle very well.

Many of the books in the series focus on "fall between the cracks" situations (the search for the missing son of a Mayflower-family judge in BLUNT DARTS when the jurist doesn’t seem to want his son found, the investigation into the death of the fashion-model-daughter of a Mafia chieftain in SHALLOW GRAVES, the murder of a Holocaust survivor/store owner in ACT OF GOD). Other novels raise controversial legal issues (the Nicole-Brown-Simpson-like tragedy of a battered wife in SWAN DIVE, the right to keep a reporter’s sources confidential in YESTERDAY’S NEWS, the Dr. Kevorkian question of assisted suicide in RIGHT TO DIE).

The more recent novels have dealt with cases pulled from the headlines (the extent to which people should be investigated in INVASION OF PRIVACY, the killings of male divorce attorneys by irate, opponent/client husbands in THE ONLY GOOD LAWYER, the investigation of a JonBenet Ramsey-like murder in South Florida).

The series has a fairly small, rotating cast of supporting characters. Nancy Meagher (pronounced Mah-harr) is an assistant district attorney and Cuddy’s potential love interest. Robert Murphy serves as the only African-American lieutenant in the Boston Police Homicide Unit, advanced on the promotion list when a bigoted Irish city councillor assumed "surname" stood for "race." Sergeant Detective [Boston’s ranking system] Bonnie Cross serves as the only female in that unit. Primo Zuppone is a mob enforcer and reluctant friend who loves New Age piano music, and Mo Katzen works as a Studs-Terkel-like newspaper reporter.

Healy or Devane
Either way, it's about justice
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