Unleashed by David Rosenfelt


by David Rosenfelt
Series: Andy Carpenter, #11

Hardcover, 308 p.
Minotaur Books, 2013

Granted, he has 13 less books under his belt, but at this point Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series is managing to do something that Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series has failed at — it’s still funny, still smart, and the criminal/suspense elements are as serious as any hard-boiled novel. Sometimes, sure, certain elements of the series — Hike’s depression, Marcus’ size/appetite, Edna’s allergy to work, for example — are overdone, and by being overdone, aren’t as funny as they could be. But Rosenfelt can rein in his impulses and produce a book that balances the whackiness with the grim and result it’s easy to forgive him for indulging his too-silly moments.

MAJOR COMPLAINT: How long has it been since Sam & Andy have song talked? Multiple books, not sure how many, but far, far, far too many books. Sure, part of the upside is Sam being a more critical character, and well-rounded. But it’s too high a price to pay.

This starts off like a typical Andy Carpenter book — a trip to the Tara Foundation, someone wanting Andy to take a job and him not being interested (I actually thought he was wrong in this — Sam was asking, not a stranger), and then Andy getting sucked in anyway — and away we go. Laughs, twists, Andy talking about his dog (and other people’s, too), smart-aleck courtroom antics, and so on. And that’s good enough for me. Sign me up for another 11 of them right now. But this one’s a little special.

The first adult mysteries I ever read were Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason books — I read and reread my public library’s collection I don’t know how many times — and when I could find them, I bought every one I saw. Andy’s more entertaining then Mr. Mason ever was, but his legal strategies aren’t quite up to his level. By this time, I really thought I knew all of Rosenfelt’s tricks (and he plays them well enough I don’t care if I can see them coming), but he pulled the rug out from underneath me in Unleashed. I may have gasped audibly, I’m not sure — I do know my jaw literally dropped.

Without giving too much away, Andy gets a little more into the nitty-gritty of the outside the courthouse action this time, as shown here:

[Marcus] does give me the handgun I’ll be using. He had shown me how to use it in the motel — basically just pointing and pulling the trigger. If I have to use it, I may add in some moaning and whimpering, just to jazz it up.

Perfect Rosenfelt, real, self-deprecating, and just funny.

Unleashed is another successful outing for this series — imagine Janet Evanovich ghostwriting Erle Stanley Gardner.

EVEN MAJOR-ER COMPLAINT: I’ve now worked through the Andy Carpenter series. I have to wait until Rosenfelt finishes the next one. Ugh.


4 Stars

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