Open and Shut (Audiobook) by David Rosenfelt, Grover Gardner

Open and ShutOpen and Shut

by David Rosenfelt, Grover Gardner (Narrator)
Series: Andy Carpenter, #1
Unabridged Audiobook, 6 hrs, 50 min.
Listen & Live Audio, Inc., 2008

Read: August 21 – 22, 2017


I honestly can’t believe I’ve talked to little about Andy Carpenter and David Rosenfelt here — it works out, when you look at timelines and whatnot, I’ve been reading him a long time before I started blogging. Still, it’s hard to believe since it’s one of my favorite series, and has been going for so long. Yeah, maybe the series is getting too long in the tooth, but for something to get to book 16+, it’s got to have a pretty solid foundation, right? That foundation is Open and Shut, where Rosenfelt introduces the world to Andy Carpenter, dog lover extraordinaire and pretty decent defense attorney.

Carpenter is a hard-working lawyer, taking on many cases that don’t pay much, but do some good. He’s obsessed with New York sports and his golden retriever. He’s going through a divorce — and has started dating his investigator. He’s got a great sense of humor, is known for a hijink or two in court, and seems like the kind of guy you want in your corner. His father is a big-time D. A., the kind of Prosecutor that people hope/assume theirs is — honest, hard-working, tough on crime. So it shocks Andy when his dad asks him to take on a client for a retrial on a murder case — a murderer his dad put away and his currently on Death Row.

Andy goes ahead with the case, not sure that he should. But it doesn’t take long before he starts to believe in his client’s innocence. About that time, things get interesting and maybe even a little dangerous.

Almost all the elements that go into a typical Andy Carpenter novel are here — even if they’re just being introduced at this point. The jokes are fresh, the clichés have yet to be developed. It’s a good mystery with some good non-mystery story elements. And, best of all, some really fun courtroom moments — not just antics on Andy’s part, but some good depictions of legal/trial strategy and the like. I’ve been thinking lately that the latter Carpenter books have been giving the courtroom short shrift, and seeing what Rosenfelt does here just solidifies that thinking.

Gardner’s narration didn’t blow me away or anything, but it was good work. I can easily believe him as Andy’s voice and can see him really growing on me (not unlike George Guidall and Walt Longmire). He’ll keep you engaged in the story, and deliver a line or two in a way that will bring a smile to your face.

Give this one a whirl, folks — text or audio — you’ll enjoy yourself.

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3.5 Stars

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Collared by David Rosenfelt

CollaredCollared

by David Rosenfelt
Series: Andy Carpenter, #16

eARC, 336 pg.
Minotaur Books, 2017

Read: June 13 – 14, 2017

I know I take dog-loving to a somewhat absurd degree, but what he just said pleases me. Someone who doesn’t care about dogs, or this one in particular, would have said, “It’s about the dog being found.” But he said Cody instead of the dog, which to me is a sign of respect and caring.

I may need to get out more.

Cody has been assumed to have been one of two victims of a kidnapping — the other was the baby the dog’s owner had recently adopted. It’s been two and a half years, with no trace of either. The mother’s ex-boyfriend and ex-employee has been convicted for the crime, on some pretty flimsy evidence. Now Cody has been left at the front door of The Tara Foundation. Naturally, once Andy is told about this, he brings in the police and the dog’s owner (a friend of Laurie’s, as coincidence would have it). The question at the front of everyone’s mind is: can the dog somehow lead to answers about her son?

Jill, the boy’s mother and Cody’s owner, asks Andy to look into this for her. Almost as soon as he begins, Andy uncovers some evidence that leads him to become Keith’s attorney and get him a retrial. Andy is pretty clueless (as is everyone) why someone would kidnap the boy and the dog (and return the dog), not to mention frame Keith for the crime. But while he can’t answer that, he can chip away at the evidence that put Keith behind bars — the only hope the boy has is that by doing so, someone may stumble on an explanation for what happened to him.

Along the way, Andy’s associate Hike has to go down to North Carolina to do a little research. While there, something happens to him — I won’t ruin anything for you, but it’s a lotta fun for people who have been around since Hike’s introduction — you will enjoy it. Laurie does what Laurie does, ditto for Marcus (who might be his most-Marcus-y here) and Sam. I do worry that Rosenfelt isn’t doing much with these characters beyond their regular heroics and chuckle-worthy antics, but we got some good Hike material this time, maybe it’ll be someone else’s turn to shine next. I don’t think the addition of Ricky to things added that much to the series, and that’s the last major change since Hike came along.

I really would’ve appreciated a little more courtroom action, but I’m not sure what else could’ve happened. It just seems like less time is being given to the courtroom lately — maybe I’m wrong. I can’t imagine that Andy would approve of someone doing the work to determine if I’m right or not — he sure wouldn’t — so let’s just assume I am.

I sound like I’m complaining about the book — that’s not really my intention. I wouldn’t expect so much from it if I wasn’t such a fan. Collared has a clever mystery, some funny moments, a nice twist or two, and we get to spend time with characters that readers have come to know and like. For a series 16 books in, that’s pretty good. Where else are you going to get a friend of the protagonist describe a potential suspect like this?

“Because Kaiser is a bad guy— a very bad, very dangerous , very evil guy . He might even be a Cardinals fan.”

It’s a fun read — from the moment that Andy assembles the family to help him decide if he’ll renew his law license to the party at Charlie’s, Rosenfelt keeps you turning the pages with a smile on your face.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for this post — thanks to both for this.
N.B.: As this was an ARC, any quotations above may be changed in the published work — I will endeavor to verify them as soon as possible.

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3.5 Stars

Pub Day Repost: The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

The Twelve Dogs of ChristmasThe Twelve Dogs of Christmas

by David Rosenfelt
Series: Andy Carpenter, #15eARC, 336 pg.
Minotaur Books, 2016
Read: August 27, 2016

I’m not a big fan of holiday-themed installments of long-running series (see the Holiday Plum novels or the Silent Night Spenser novel as glaring examples of how bad these can be). But you know I’m a completist — and if I could make it through the aforementioned books, I could handle this. Thankfully, this was pretty light on the Christmas theme (sure, there are trees and gifts and whatnot, but it’s not really that different from your standard Andy Carpenter novel. So, if you think like I do — don’t worry. If you don’t mind/like a little holiday cheer — don’t worry, you’ll find it.

A friend of the Tara Foundation, “Pups” (so-called because she takes care of stray puppies until they’re old enough to adopt out, and might be pickier than Willie when it comes to worthy humans). Is facing eviction because of the large number of puppies she has in her home, and a new neighbor is complaining. Pups isn’t really what you call “friendly,” “polite” or someone who “should be allowed to interact with people.” She’s crabby, opinionated, blunt and has no patience for fools — particularly fools that seem intent on messing with her and her puppies. So Pups has said a few things that make it sound like she’d be happy if the neighbor stopped breathing.

Which, naturally, means that he ends up killed and that someone did a really sloppy frame job on ol’ Pups. The frame job is actually bigger than just this one killing, but you can read that for yourself.

Why prosecutors continue to play hardball with Carpenter clients, I just don’t get. I never understood why Hamilton Burger insisted on taking Perry Mason’s clients to trial, and I can’t understand why New Jersey’s prosecutors don’t just dismiss charges the instant that Carpenter and Hike show up on the other side of a courtroom. But they don’t, which means we get to watch Andy do his thing, fret about his jury deliberation superstitions, and annoy a judge. Who could ask for more?

I really think the mystery, the culprit and the way things unfold in Twelve Dogs is better than the last few books in this series. Everything’s clicking just like it should in these pages. This may be some of the best Marcus material in quite a while — the way that the gang leader acts around and talks about “Mr. Marcus” tells you more about Marcus than anything that Andy could possible tell us. The book would be worth reading just for that.

Minor spoiler: and hopefully once the book is published, this’ll be taken care of. It was a shame to see Andy betting since he and Ricky and just made a promise to stop doing that about a third way through the last book (I’m too lazy to look up page number, an approach Andy would probably endorse) — and Laurie made it clear that he was expected to keep that promise. It’s a minor note that I probably only caught because I read the two passages in the same 24-hour period.

It’d be really hard to rank Carpenter books in terms of happy and/or sweet endings. But if you were bored/ambitious enough to take on that task, I’m pretty sure that this would find itself close to the top. A great addition to one of the more entertaining mystery series around.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Minotaur Books via NetGalley in exchange for this post — thanks to both for this.

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4 Stars

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

The Twelve Dogs of ChristmasThe Twelve Dogs of Christmas

by David Rosenfelt
Series: Andy Carpenter, #15

eARC, 336 pg.
Minotaur Books, 2016

Read: August 27, 2016


I’m not a big fan of holiday-themed installments of long-running series (see the Holiday Plum novels or the Silent Night Spenser novel as glaring examples of how bad these can be). But you know I’m a completist — and if I could make it through the aforementioned books, I could handle this. Thankfully, this was pretty light on the Christmas theme (sure, there are trees and gifts and whatnot, but it’s not really that different from your standard Andy Carpenter novel. So, if you think like I do — don’t worry. If you don’t mind/like a little holiday cheer — don’t worry, you’ll find it.

A friend of the Tara Foundation, “Pups” (so-called because she takes care of stray puppies until they’re old enough to adopt out, and might be pickier than Willie when it comes to worthy humans). Is facing eviction because of the large number of puppies she has in her home, and a new neighbor is complaining. Pups isn’t really what you call “friendly,” “polite” or someone who “should be allowed to interact with people.” She’s crabby, opinionated, blunt and has no patience for fools — particularly fools that seem intent on messing with her and her puppies. So Pups has said a few things that make it sound like she’d be happy if the neighbor stopped breathing.

Which, naturally, means that he ends up killed and that someone did a really sloppy frame job on ol’ Pups. The frame job is actually bigger than just this one killing, but you can read that for yourself.

Why prosecutors continue to play hardball with Carpenter clients, I just don’t get. I never understood why Hamilton Burger insisted on taking Perry Mason’s clients to trial, and I can’t understand why New Jersey’s prosecutors don’t just dismiss charges the instant that Carpenter and Hike show up on the other side of a courtroom. But they don’t, which means we get to watch Andy do his thing, fret about his jury deliberation superstitions, and annoy a judge. Who could ask for more?

I really think the mystery, the culprit and the way things unfold in Twelve Dogs is better than the last few books in this series. Everything’s clicking just like it should in these pages. This may be some of the best Marcus material in quite a while — the way that the gang leader acts around and talks about “Mr. Marcus” tells you more about Marcus than anything that Andy could possible tell us. The book would be worth reading just for that.

Minor spoiler: and hopefully once the book is published, this’ll be taken care of. It was a shame to see Andy betting since he and Ricky and just made a promise to stop doing that about a third way through the last book (I’m too lazy to look up page number, an approach Andy would probably endorse) — and Laurie made it clear that he was expected to keep that promise. It’s a minor note that I probably only caught because I read the two passages in the same 24-hour period.

It’d be really hard to rank Carpenter books in terms of happy and/or sweet endings. But if you were bored/ambitious enough to take on that task, I’m pretty sure that this would find itself close to the top. A great addition to one of the more entertaining mystery series around.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Minotaur Books via NetGalley in exchange for this post — thanks to both for this.

—–

4 Stars

Outfoxed by David Rosenfelt

OutfoxedOutfoxed

by David Rosenfelt
Series: Andy Carpenter, #14

Hardcover, 326 pg.
Minotaur Books, 2016

Read: August 26 – 27, 2016


Last week, I talked about how difficult it is to come up with things to talk about with a long-running series like the Walt Longmire books — at a certain point, series like that hit a good stride and only vary a little in quality or interest for readers. Well, the Andy Carpenter series is even longer and more difficult to write about. I don’t know if I can do much, but I’ll try.

This time out, Andy has inherited a client already in prison, he’s basically supposed to deal with routine things and be ready to help him at the end of his sentence. This is made easier in that the client, Brian Atkins, is working with a dog training program that the Tara Foundation has going with the minimum security prison he’s in.

But then he breaks out of prison and is found leaving the scene of the murder of his estranged wife and his former partner.

But it’s so much bigger than just this (really, the case doesn’t seem as difficult as many of his — finding the actual killer is, but not the case) — Andy’s going to find himself at odds with one of the most dangerous foes he’s tangled with. Speaking of easy, I sort of think that everything ended a bit too easily, a bit too pat — I’m not sure how doing what they did really keeps Andy and his family safe.

I was wondering how Andy and Laurie were going to deal with juggling parenting and these cases, and man, do I hope they come up with better ways than this one. It works once, but not twice. I liked the little bit of fathering we get to see from Andy, though, and Ricky seems like he can be a decent addition to the series.

I don’t want to sound like I’m down on this book — or this series. It was a whole lotta fun, a nice puzzle, and watching the pieces fall into place was pretty satisfying. If you’re not reading these books, you’re missing out.

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3.5 Stars

Lessons from Tara by David Rosenfelt

Lessons from TaraLessons from Tara: Life Advice from the World’s Most Brilliant Dog

by David Rosenfelt

Hardcover, 227 pg.
St. Martin’s Press, 2015

Read: January 23 – 25, 2016


One of my resolutions this year was to read more Non-Fiction — I’m going to try for 1 a month, in addition to “whenever I see something that catches my eye.” So, I marched up to the New Release shelf at the Library and started browsing — hope sinking fast, a whole lot of diet, productivity and political books. Ugh. Just not in the mood, then I got to the 600’s and David Rosenfelt’s name jumped out at me. Had to do it, Rosenfelt talking about Tara (the inspiration for Andy Carpenter’s dog) might be cheating a little, but it was good enough.

I was expecting a little Marley & Me-ish type story about the Rosenfelts and Tara. I couldn’t have been more wrong — thankfully (this meant I sniffled far less than I would’ve otherwise). This is a collection of short (no more than 5 pages), mostly humorous, essays about their life and work with Rescue Dogs. Tara is mentioned frequently, as the work they do with Rescue Dogs was inspired by her, but she’s not the focus of this book. It’s their entire menagerie, those they’ve rescued that aren’t part of their pack, the humans they’ve worked with — and even a few they decidedly haven’t — and the lessons Rosenfelt has learned from them.

While every chapter has a joke or two, some are pretty serious — Rosenfelt talks earnestly about the way people treat dogs — particularly older dogs. The focus of The Tara Foundation is on older/senior dogs who aren’t that likely to be adopted from shelters. I know that he’s made me rethink what dogs I look at when we go to adopt next.

Fans of the Andy Carpenter series will be happy to hear that Andy’s voice is Rosenfelt’s — the book at times feels like an Andy Carpenter book without all the muss and fuss of a plot, murder, or trial. I laughed, I chuckled, I learned a thing or two, and I even got misty more than I wanted to. All in all a really strong read. If you’re a dog lover, or just someone who likes to read good things, find some time for this one.

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4 Stars

Who Let The Dog Out? by David Rosenfelt

Who Let The Dog Out?Who Let The Dog Out?

by David Rosenfelt
Series: Andy Carpenter, #13
Hardcover, 324 pg.
Minotaur Books, 2015
Read: September 4 – 5, 2015

As Michael Corleone said in The Godfather, Part Ill, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” The fact that it was the worst movie in the history of movies does not take away from the truth of that statement, as it relates to my legal career.

Poor, beleaguered Andy Carpenter. Dragged, kicking and screaming back into the courtroom to defend someone he really doesn’t care about, but by doing so he gets to investigate a crime he’s really concerned with.

As we all expect, that crime involves a dog.

The Tara Foundation, the dog rescue shelter that Andy runs with his former client, Willie, is broken into. The thief does a very professional job and takes off with one dog. Professional or not, the thief didn’t take into account how devoted Andy and Willie are to these animals and how obsessive they can be about them. It doesn’t take them long at all to track down the dog…and the corpse he’s next to.

Andy wants to know more about the dog, and the dog’s owner who turns out to be a fugitive, suspected of murder. The only way he can keep his foot in this case is to defend the man accused of the killing. He eventually does figure out who kills the thief, but it’s almost accidental — it’s certainly incidental to anything else going on. Just one of the little bits of pleasure this provided was that “ah ha” moment.

During the trial — the stage of many of this series’ highlights — Andy treats us to an amusing clinic on all the ways that a couple of lawyers (and people in other professions) can use the word “frankly,” including all the shades of meaning that word can provide. Like so many of Andy’s lessons, this was worth the ticket price.

Rosenfelt brings us yet another storylines that could summed up as: It looks like a simple crime, but is actually the linchpin to uncovering a major terrorist plot/international crime syndicate (minor spoiler that if you read more than a couple of chapters you’d see for yourself). I’m getting a little sick of these. The terrorist plot, by the way, makes me reconsider the plausibility of a similar plan in Robert B. Parker’s Night Passage. I’d always thought that the weakest part of an otherwise compelling read, seeing it now in light of this book makes me think there was something there. Still, for crying out loud, Mr. Rosenfelt, let major criminal enterprises and terrorist organizations figure out that a trip through Patterson, NJ is asking for trouble. Local conspiracies, okay. But major international conspiracies? You’ve got to stop going to that well so often. Or period.

My other worry about this is Ricky. If you haven’t read this far in the series, you may want to skip the rest of this paragraph. About half of the material around Ricky was cute and fun — just like it was in Hounded. The other half (mostly involving stale sit-com like bits about kids’ sports) teetered on painful. I fear that this series might be like the older comedies who felt compelled to add the cute little kid late in the run (Andy on Family Ties, Cousin Oliver on The Brady Bunch, Olivia on The Cosby Show, Chrissy on Growing Pains, etc., etc., etc.). If that’s the case, I worry about the future of the series.

Don’t get me wrong — I enjoyed this overall. I can suspend my beefs with this series as it goes on and enjoy Andy’s laziness, his awe of Marcus, Marcus’ awe-inducing self, the hacking seniors, and all the rest. I don’t open up an Andy Carpenter novel expecting to be hanging in suspense, to be chilled, to be challenged in any way; I expect to spend a couple of hours in some pleasant company and sometimes to get a fun puzzle. In that sense Who Let the Dog Out? delivered enough.

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3 Stars