Every Andy Carpenter mystery has a dog in it—usually more than one, and “Dog Eat Dog” is no different. The dog is often the device by which the main character, Andy Carpenter, gets dragged, kicking and screaming (figuratively, at least) into representing someone charged with murder. Someone we readers know is innocent. In this case, the accused murderer meets Andy when they see a dog being abused by its owner. The poor dog is being kicked and dragged on a leash, and before Andy’s intrepid wife Laurie can reach the abuser to stop the abuse (Andy allows her to be the enforcer as she is a former cop), another man steps in. After telling the abuser to stop, the abuser punches the would-be rescuer who then punches back. The police arrive and arrest both men. The dog savior tells Andy it’s not going to go well for him, and Andy doesn’t know why. It was clearly self-defense.
But when Andy, who took the poor dog home, goes to check on the rescuer, he finds that the guy is accused of a double murder. He says he didn’t do it, and wouldn’t we all believe that? Double murderers don’t, at least in my opinion, go out of their way to rescue abused dogs. Unfortunately, the murders were in Maine, not New Jersey, where Andy lives and practices law (as little as he can). So Andy must travel to Maine to represent the accused, Matthew Jantzen.
In fact, author David Rosenfelt lives in Maine, which affords him an excuse to have the setting close to his home town. And I’m taking a wild guess here, but the restaurant Andy eats at each night just might be David Rosenfelt’s favorite place to eat. I’m also guessing that Rosenfelt likes lobster rolls. A lot. In fact, Andy Carpenter eats so many many lobster rolls, and talks about how much he loves them to the point that the book should really have been named “Dog Eats Lobster Rolls” or “Andy Eats Lobster Rolls.”
Once Andy is in Maine, he finds out that someone doesn’t want him investigating the murders. Being the brilliant, dedicated lawyer he is, threats don’t stop him. There are several possibilities regarding who might have wanted at least one of the victims dead. Of course, there is the problem that Matthew’s blood was found at the scene of the crime, on one of the victims. It’s hard to refute DNA evidence, but Andy isn’t a quitter.
What Rosenfelt does in “Dog Eat Dog” is work his usual magic. That means there is humor on every page, and we are hooked from the start.The only third person narrative is right at the start as we see the crime take place. After that, it’s all first person narrative with Andy Carpenter telling the story. We chuckle at his self-deprecating humor and his wise-cracking. We marvel at his brilliance. And we love meeting, again, several of Carpenter’s sidekicks, including Sam the Tech Expert Accountant and Marcus the Enforcer.
The action starts on the first page and doesn’t end. The closer Andy gets to solving the crime, the more we really, really want to know who did the murders and how and why Matthew was framed for it. And because there were two people killed, a nurse and a drug addict, we might assume that the intended victim of the murders was the drug addict. Rosenfelt does his usual magnificent job dropping little hints that astute readers will register as clues, but which will not make sense until the end. Unlike most of the other books, Andy, Laurie, and their son Ricky are keeping Hunter, their rescued dog. In real life, Rosenfelt and his wife ran a rescue named after her much-loved golden retriever, Tara. In the series, Andy Carpenter and his wife run a rescue named after their much-loved golden, Tara.
If this is the first Andy Carpenter book you pick up, you won’t feel lost at all. And while it works as a stand alone mystery, you’ll end up wanting to go back and start at the beginning of the series to enjoy all the books and see the development of all the characters. But don’t be disappointed that there aren’t any donuts in the story. There are many lobster rolls. And muffins.
This review was first posted on Bookreporter.com.