This latest David Rosenfelt novel should come with a warning: Be aware that reading this book will probably cause you to now have a new, must-read series. Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series is much beloved by readers who enjoy the clever mysteries, the canine characters, and main character Andy Carpenter’s self-deprecating humor. In “Citizen K-9,” the second in a spin-off series about the K Team, a group of investigators whom we have met in the Andy Carpenter novels, we still get Rosenfelt’s humor and his wonderful writing, resulting in a mystery that provides enjoyable reading as well as mental exercise in solving crime. And in this novel, the crime is not easy to solve.
Seven years ago, two people disappeared from a high school reunion and were never seen again. The car belonging to one of them is found in a parking lot, but there are no bodies, and there’s no evidence or apparent motive for anyone to have killed them. When the Paterson police department hires the K Team to solve cold crimes, this is the one they choose since both Laurie and Corey attended the same high school as the victims, so they feel a connection to the case. The K Team consists of Laurie, Andy Carpenter’s wife and a former cop; Corey Douglas and his K-9 partner Simon, both retired officers, and Marcus, the enforcer we met and admired in the Andy Carpenter series both for his ability to communicate in grunts and his almost superhuman strength and ability to thwart the bad guys.
As mystery readers know, we must be on the lookout for red herrings. In “Citizen K-9,” the team quickly figures out who ordered the murders, and it seems almost too fast. Could it really be that easy? Our intrepid team doesn’t want to stop investigating; they want to find out where the bodies are and why a seemingly random person was murdered along with Chris Vogel. Because while Vogel, after some investigation into his life, seemed to have a risky lifestyle — drugs and gambling — the woman who disappeared with him not only had nothing fishy in her life, she really had almost no connection to Vogel except that they both attended the high school reunion. So why did they both disappear?
We hear the story from Douglas’ point of view as he tells us, in first person narrative, not only what is happening but his thoughts about the progress of the investigation. We also learn about his personal life, the fact that his girlfriend, Dani, lives with him most of the time, and that she’s a real keeper. Andy Carpenter, fans of that series will be pleased to note, also makes appearances in this series. And, in keeping with Carpenter’s persona, such cameos are always chuckle-inducing. In addition to “borrowing” Andy from the Carpenter series, the team uses Sam Willis, the tech wizard who almost magically finds important information in many Carpenter novels, information that offers invaluable help in solving the mysteries. Douglas, as a former cop, is torn about Sam’s extremely unorthodox (read illegal) methods of getting information, but it becomes easier to accept them when the results are in.
Rosenfelt often features truly depraved villains, and he runs true to form in this novel. But also as per Rosenfelt’s ability to mislead and misdirect, he doesn’t reveal all the clues until the very end. In this case, though, there are definite hints along the way regarding the nature of the crimes. This entry of the new series is a hit in terms of twisty mystery, characters whom we grow to admire, and subtle humor throughout. And dogs. In real life, Rosenfelt and his wife have rescued over 4,000 dogs and continue to take in huge homeless dogs (like mastiffs) in need. They are true animal lovers! His book release events are usually presented to benefit local animal rescues, and hearing him speak is a brilliantly enjoyable experience. Just picture visiting with Andy Carpenter.
Please note: This review was first posted on Bookreporter.com.