‘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.

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‘Blackout’ by David Rosenfelt: Another exciting suspense novel from Rosenfelt

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Rating: 5 stars

The dependably entertaining and prolific David Rosenfelt strikes again with his latest stand-alone thriller, “Blackout.” Filled with his trademark cast of fascinating characters, his always-funny and wittily self-deprecating hero, his usual strong and gorgeous female supporting love interest, and plot twists and turns aplenty, “Blackout” once again provides us with “finish-it-in-one-night” suspense and adventure.

The hero is Doug Blake, a New Jersey State Police officer who is a rebellious, unpredictable, rule-bending, and lovable character. But the first plot twist involving Blake appears not toward the end of the book, but at the very beginning. While hot on the trail of Nicholas Bennett, a loathsome crime lord, Blake is shot, falls on his head, and lapses into a coma. When he emerges from the near-deathly sleep, he is victimized by a rare form of amnesia — he remembers nothing of the last ten years of his life.

It is upon his awakening that we get to really know him (though he wouldn’t know us if we had happened to meet him during the previous ten years) as Rosenfelt’s ubiquitous and amazing talent for first person narrative humor kicks in at full throttle. As always, this author’s uncanny ability to present terrific comedy right along with heart-throbbing suspense hits us directly in the gut. He is unique.

The plot proceeds apace as the questions and suspense crescendo: Who shot Blake? Why did he get shot? Will he get his memory back? Will he be the same man he was before the shooting? What villainous plans are afoot? Who are the bad guys and who are the good guys — and who’s fooling Blake and fooling us?

There’s also a delicious cornucopia of villains here — Bennett the crime lord; Luther, his ruthless hit man; Gharsi, an international terrorist, and the surprise guest-artist/brains behind the whole dastardly plot. A sumptuous villainous feast, indeed. As usual with Rosenfelt, it will keep you on the edge of your seat with suspense while you work hard to keep from falling off your chair with laughter. A winning combination. (JK)

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by Minotaur Press for review purposes.

‘Who Let the Dog Out?’ by David Rosenfelt: 13th in Andy Carpenter Mystery series

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Rating: 5 stars

In David Rosenfelt’s new mystery/comedy, “Who Let the Dog Out?” that Carpenter man is back again. But this Carpenter, of course, does not build houses out of wood or fix all kinds of things so they work right. Nope, attorney Andy Carpenter builds strong cases for the defense of his unfortunate (and almost always entirely innocent) clients, and all he fixes is the set of injustices which threaten those poor and desperate souls he decides to represent.

In “Who Let the Dog Out?” the first murder victim turns out to be the unfortunate fellow who has, for reasons not yet clear early on in the story, just stolen a beautiful large dog from the animal shelter owned by Andy and managed by his pal and former client, Willie Miller. When the dog thief is found murdered, the dog is found right at the victim’s feet — perfectly happy and apparently healthy.

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‘Lessons from Tara’ by David Rosenfelt: A must-read if you’ve ever loved a dog

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Rating: 5 stars

“Lessons from Tara: Life Advice from the World’s Most Brilliant Dog” by David Rosenfelt is so enjoyable it should be illegal. Anyone who has ever loved a dog will be touched by the stories of the many, many dogs that Rosenfelt and his wife, Debbie, have saved. But what makes Rosenfelt’s writing brilliant is his ability to infuse humor into every page he writes.

This reviewer has never read a book wherein every page — every page, mind you — has caused her to burst out laughing, stop, and insist that her husband stop whatever he is doing so that she could read the funny parts to him. He certainly does’t feel that he needs to read the book now. He’s listened to most of it.

While those of us who rescue know many sad animal stories (because we’ve experienced them), Rosenfelt’s stories consistently amaze, entertain, and disgust — all at the same time. There is an incident recounted, for example, on page 118, in which a golden retriever is abandoned in front of a high-kill shelter in California one morning. “The attached note described her as fifteen, and the owners said that they were going on vacation and didn’t want to pay to board her, so the shelter should put her down.”

That dog lived what must have been three more wonderfully happy years in the Rosenfelt zoo, er, house. Rosenfelt pulls no punches. He continues, “Tessie lived to eighteen with us, and hopefully it was long enough to make her forget the assholes she had lived with all those years. I hope wherever they went on their vacation, they contracted dysentery, and there was no indoor plumbing.”

Rosenfelt’s ubiquitous self-deprecating humor also permeates the anecdotes and is guaranteed to leave the reader, just as it did this reviewer, laughing, loudly and frequently. He even makes fun of mistakes he’s made in his writing. I’ll give away just one: “…they found the victim ‘lying facedown on his back.'” Obviously those mistakes are editing errors, not to be pinned on Rosenfelt — hero to many. Especially his dogs.

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

‘Hounded’ by David Rosenfelt: Andy Carpenter strikes again

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Rating: 5 stars

Here once again, in David Rosenfelt’s “Hounded,” is defense attorney Andy Carpenter, still the witty, wise-cracking, self-effacing, brilliant lawyer-cum-detective, that guy who is ever-mindful, and sort of proud, of his status as everybody’s favorite lovable troublemaker.

In “Hounded,” Andy, as usual, feels compelled to defend someone who is accused of a heinous crime and against whom the evidence and the odds are heavily stacked. This time the accused is Andy’s good friend, policeman Pete Stanton, who is suspected of murdering a police informant because the informant has apparently implicated the cop in a drug sale conspiracy. Illegal drugs are found stashed in Stanton’s home. Gloves to hide fingerprints are found in his car. He is, in short, in big trouble.

But wise-guy Carpenter is on the case. And as the investigation proceeds, Rosenfelt takes us on another of his incredible roller-coaster rides of puzzling clues, white elephants, big danger, gritty violence, and brilliant deductions. But the suspense, as always, is balanced by generous servings of terrifically witty dialogue and wonderfully conceived doses of Andy’s humor: self-deprecating perceptions of his own character and behavior.

But wait! Is there a new, warmer, cuddlier Andy Carpenter arising before our very eyes? Is this the possible emergence of a lover — of children, no less? The murder victim, you see, was the father of a very charming young boy, and throughout the novel, we can just feel the kid weaving his way into Carpenter’s formerly hard heart. Okay. No more spoilers. But, Andy Carpenter fans, prepare yourselves. Change is a-comin’. And don’t miss “Hounded” to see where it’s all a-goin’.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Minotaur, for review purposes.

‘Unleashed’ by David Rosenfelt: Another mystery/comedy masterpiece

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Rating: 5 stars

David Rosenfelt’s “Unleashed,’ the eleventh in the Andy Carpenter Mystery series, is, we are happy to announce, just like the first ten. Terrific.

This time, Andy, the unwilling but extraordinarily able criminal defense attorney, once again gives up his preferred lifestyle of wealth and leisure to take on the impossible-looking defense of an accused murderer.

In “Unleashed,” it is an apparent murderess, Denise Price, who appears to have done away with her very rich husband Barry by expertly botoxing him into oblivion. He pilots (in this case un-pilots) his private jet into a fatal crash because he is rendered unconscious by the lethal dose of botox he has ingested.

Denise is a former nurse who knows how to administer poisons. She and Barry have been unhappy together for years and have had terrible arguments in public. She is quite attractive and quite willing to use her looks to manipulate men. It looks like an open-and-shut case. So of course, Andy Carpenter decides to defend her.

Andy is urged to do so by his long-time friend, accountant, and official computer hacker, Sam Willis (who appears in all the books in the series). But Sam may have some ulterior motives (though certainly not evil ones) for persuading Andy to defend Denise. He has had a crush on her since their high school days together. And Sam is going to get very involved — with the case and with Denise. Way TOO involved.

Meanwhile, the parallel plot, the one with a third person narrator (Andy always tells most of his own stories), features a suspenseful and exciting evil plan to commit a 9/11-type series of simultaneous murders of high-profile Americans.

Oh yes, the title. Of course, there is a very important dog, too. Wouldn’t be Andy and wouldn’t be Rosenfelt without it.

Now, the real perplexing question is, How does Rosenfelt manage to construct such clever and complex plots, tie them all together, make you love Andy more with every novel, and bombard you with non-stop humor, all at the same time? Only Rosenfelt can pull off that kind of quadruple-play. His is an absolutely unique mystery/comedy talent. Do not miss “Unleashed.” Don’t miss any of them.

Please note: This review is based on the hardcover book provided by the publisher, Minotaur Books, for review purposes.

‘Dog Tags’ by David Rosenfelt is a first place winner

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(Please note: This is a reprint of an earlier article. The ‘Andy Carpenter’ series is ongoing — thank goodness!)

Rating: 5 stars

If you haven’t read any novels by David Rosenfelt, read Dog Tags, and I guarantee that it won’t be the last of his books you will read. Chances are that you will immediately head to your local library or bookstore (or Amazon.com) and order the whole Andy Carpenter series.

I couldn’t put the book down. Rosenfelt’s writing style is clever and chatty. The story is told from two viewpoints: a third-person omniscient narration and a hilarious first-person narration by the main character, Andy Carpenter. The narration is compelling and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny.

From the author’s website:

A German Shepherd police dog witnesses a murder and if his owner–an Iraq war vet and former cop-turned-thief–is convicted of the crime, the dog could be put down. Few rival Andy Carpenter’s affection for dogs, and he decides to represent the poor canine. As Andy struggles to convince a judge that this dog should be set free, he discovers that the dog and his owner have become involved unwittingly in a case of much greater proportions than the one they’ve been charged with. Andy will have to call upon the unique abilities of this ex-police dog to help solve the crime and prevent a catastrophic event from taking place.

Murder scenes alternate with doggy-human trust building sessions; courtroom scenes alternate with army base visits. And clues abound. Andy Carpenter, his girlfriend, and a cast of characters (and I do mean characters) get the job done. They solve the murder, save the country, and, of course, save the dog. And on the way, it’s a non-stop ride from Paterson, New Jersey all the way to the Bahamas. But most of the action takes place in Paterson, Rosenfelt’s childhood hometown.

David Rosenfelt’s website reads like one of his novels; his bio is fascinating. He is a true dog lover (like authors Peg Kehret and Dean Koontz), but David takes it one step further and has his own rescue, Tara Foundation. Many of his travels around the country signing books are benefits for various Golden rescue groups. There is a great photo of a bunch of fat, happy Goldens lying around his house.