Saturday, June 09, 2007

Play Dead - David Rosenfelt

Play Dead
David Rosenfelt
Warner Books

Mystery/Legal Thriller

Andy Carpenter, an independently wealthy lawyer who can be a wise-ass at the best of times, has just taken on a new and unique client. His name is Yogi, and he’s a golden retriever. Yogi is currently on death row at a local animal shelter after biting his abusive owner. Andy, who runs a rescue operation for goldens, has no intention of letting this dog die. He manages to successfully argue self-defense for Yogi and takes him home as a new friend for his dog, Tara.

While walking the two dogs, a woman on the street recognizes Yogi. If his reaction of rushing to her, knocking her over, and bathing her face with his tongue is any indication, he knows her, too. Her name is Karen Evans. She saw Andy and Yogi during the TV coverage and realized that the dog, whose real name is Reggie, belonged to her brother. She thought Yogi died five years ago on a night that essentially ended her brother’s life, too.

Her brother, Richard, is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his fiancée, Stacy. The two, plus Reggie, were out on Richard’s boat when an unexpected storm blew in. When no one aboard their boat responded to emergency messages, the Coast Guard boarded and discovered Richard, alone, unconscious, with an empty pill bottle next to him. He had no memory of that evening, but when Stacy’s body washed up weeks later, investigators called it a murder-suicide. Prevailing theory was that the dog drowned after being thrown overboard.

Karen claims this is ridiculous, since her brother loved Reggie. She’s done a bit of research into Andy’s background and wants to hire him to try to get her brother a new trial. Since one huge part of the prosecution – the killing of the dog – is clearly untrue, Andy is cautiously optimistic, but needs time to do his own investigation. Very quickly, Andy realizes that there are some powerful people with an interest in keeping everything just the way it is.

As usual, David Rosenfelt writes a tightly plotted, fast-moving story with enough twists to keep readers guessing until the final pages. The mystery is very involving, and watching it all come together is quite satisfying. Part of a series, each Andy Carpenter novel can be read as a stand-alone without trouble. Andy is a great character. He only takes cases that interest him, but when he takes a case, he’s completely devoted to it and the law. Like his fictional creation, David Rosenfelt runs a rescue for golden retrievers, and his love of animals and devotion to these beautiful dogs is evident throughout the story. You don’t have to be an animal lover to enjoy these books, but if you are, you’ll get an extra layer of enjoyment from this always-entertaining series.

Rating: 8 ½
June 2007
ISBN# 0-446-58241-7 (hardcover)


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