In the Andy Carpenter mysteries, author David Rosenfelt has created an irascible yet lovable attorney and dog lover who only agrees to represent accused murderers after much kicking and screaming. He’s inherited a lot of money from his father, so he doesn’t need to work, and he certainly doesn’t need the stress of having someone’s life in his hands. But in each novel, there is a reason that Andy is compelled to once again dust off his briefcase, call his employees into the office, and use their combined talents to save someone by solving another mystery. Reluctantly.
In each mystery, Rosenfelt creates situations in which it appears impossible that Andy will be able to prove his client’s innocence. The evidence against each accused murderer is overwhelming, and in “Best in Snow,” Rosenfelt remains true to form. In this case, Andy’s good friend and newspaper editor, Vince, has begged Andy to represent Bobby Nash, who is accused of killing the mayor of their home town, Paterson, New Jersey, as well as one of his political workers. Andy has a personal interest in the case as his dog Tara was the one who literally uncovered the body in a local park on a snowy evening. Andy had thought she was chasing a squirrel, but it was a much larger body and a very dead one.
Bobby Nash is found shortly thereafter in a car accident, and with enough drugs in his system to have killed him. It was pure luck that his car in the ditch was found immediately, and he received the medical attention that kept him alive. But the evidence against him includes the mayor’s blood in his trunk and his cell phone’s GPS showing that he was at the mayor’s house at the time of the killing. And when there is another death, there is more evidence that incriminates him. It would seem, in Andy’s favorite sports parlance, to be a slam dunk that will end with Bobby in jail for the rest of his life. But there are questions about the scene and the crimes that would lead us to believe Bobby is being framed. And when there is an attempt on Bobby’s life while he is in the hospital recovering from the accident, Andy becomes convinced Bobby is innocent.
As Rosenfelt fans are well aware, Andy doesn’t give up. When he’s convinced that his client in innocent, there are no lengths to which he will not go to prove that innocence. His investigation usually involves Andy putting himself in personal danger, but he’s lucky in that his wife is a former cop, and they have Marcus, who is almost a superhero given his ability to thwart bad guys and bullets. Andy also boasts a colorful cast of characters who assist him in his endeavors. Edna is the secretary/office manager who usually does no work other than cashing her paycheck. Sam is his accountant, who is also gifted in his abilities to crack any online security system to procure information on Andy’s behalf. His Jewish cabal of octogenarians is equally talented and passionate about finding exculpatory evidence.
And in each case, there’s a dog. Sometimes the dog is more central to the plot than other times, but Andy’s dog rescue always gets some billing. Here, Bobby’s new puppy needs a place to go, and Vince has the puppy dumped in his lap. He begs Andy to take the puppy in addition to taking Bobby as a client, but Andy says no. Reading about how Vince and the puppy learn to coexist is charming, perhaps a bit predictable, but we love it nonetheless.
Will Andy be able to convince the jury that there is enough reasonable doubt that Bobby did it so that they will vote “not guilty”? Will Laurie and Marcus be able to keep Andy alive long enough to make it through the trial? Long enough to find the real perpetrators? As usual, readers will chuckle in delight at the self-deprecating narrative as only Rosenfelt can write it. While Andy often seems to be easily led astray by temptations like home-baked goodies, he’s also always determined to do right by his client. He’s like a bulldog. Once he’s on the trail of wrongdoing, he’ll follow the leads and get to the bottom of the situation even after the trial is over. He won’t let go. Rosenfelt deftly keeps a few secrets so that at the end we are presented with a final act that, as always, unveils Andy’s clever plotting and semi-heroic ability to outthink the evildoers. Just because you haven’t read any of the previous Andy Carpenter mysteries, don’t let that stop you from enjoying this one. Rosenfelt provides everything you need to enjoy this snowy mystery on its own.
Please note: This review was first posted on Bookreporter.com.
The review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Minotaur Press for review purposes.