‘Collared’ Is Another Masterpiece of Mystery and Mayhem in the ‘Andy Carpenter’ series by David Rosenfelt

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Reading the “Andy Carpenter” series by David Rosenfelt is dangerous.  The books should come with warnings: “Read with Caution, Extremely Addicting.” The latest book in the series, “Collared,” is no exception.

In this case, Carpenter must uncover the mystery of what happened to an abducted baby. It all starts with a dog — of course. A border collie is dropped off at Carpenter’s animal rescue, and the dog’s microchip connects the dog to a woman whose child was abducted, with the dog, three years before. Carpenter’s wife, Laurie, is friends with Jill Hickman, the woman whose adopted baby was kidnapped, so he gets involved.

Hickman’s ex-boyfriend was convicted of the kidnapping, but the discovery that someone else had the dog all this time, and that the person who had the dog was the nanny from whom the baby and dog were kidnapped, all serve to arouse Carpenter’s curiosity.

So instead of allowing his law license to lapse, thereby inflicting — with no merciful pause — his rather curmudgeonly character on his wife, child, and friends, he decides to investigate and make sure that the right person is in jail. Because of what he uncovers (with the help of his very quirky team), he realizes that the jailed ex, Keith Wachtel, is probably not the guilty party. Mysterious deaths of those involved in the kidnapping begin to pile up.

But where is the child, and who is really behind the kidnapping? Intrepid Andy Carpenter risks life and limb to uncover the truth and make sure that justice is served. He’s certainly slightly less brave and noble than Superman — but luckily, he is blessed with the assistance and protection of his wife (a former cop) and Marcus (the baddest guy around).

As usual, Rosenfelt does a magnificent job writing narrative in first person that is engaging and extraordinarily funny. Andy Carpenter (in many ways Rosenfelt’s alter-ego) is so quick and so self-deprecating that readers can’t help laughing out loud often. Really often.

In this story, there are lots of twists and turns and people who are not who they appeared to be. What doesn’t change is Andy’s personality, plus his friends who take advantage of his generosity to drink beer and eat burgers at the local joint on Andy’s dime — always. Andy’s love of sports also shines through with the use of all kinds of rather brilliant colorful language throughout.

But for those of us who aren’t sports fans, those digressions don’t matter at all. The Andy Carpenter series has many kinds of fans, including mystery lovers, dog lovers, and those who simply enjoy a good read.

Don’t miss reading the “Andy Carpenter” mystery series. While each book does work as a stand alone story, why not start at the beginning with “Open and Shut” and work through the rest of them. The writing is consistently unique and superb. And the laughs never stop.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by St. Martin’s Press for review purposes.

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