“Rescued: an Andy Carpenter Mystery” (Minotaur), by David Rosenfelt
Defense attorney Andy Carpenter is known to win seemingly unwinnable cases. In “Rescued,” the 17th of David Rosenfelt’s novels featuring Carpenter, the maverick legal eagle’s not sure if he can pull off his usual miracle because the evidence against his client is overwhelming.
Private investigator David Kramer is accused in the death of Kenny Zimmer, who was transporting 61 dogs from the deep South to the Northeast, where they could be adopted.
Kramer says he shot Zimmer at a rest stop in New Jersey, but insists that it was in self-defense. Zimmer, he says, asked to meet him in the tractor-trailer carrying the dogs, but when he showed up, Zimmer came at him with a large knife.
No knife was found at the crime scene. Carpenter theorizes that a third person hiding in the truck removed the knife, but video footage recorded no such person. Worse, Kramer had beaten up Zimmer once before.
Defending the man is emotionally difficult for Carpenter. He must overcome his “childish jealousy” of Kramer, his beloved wife’s ex-boyfriend. Still, Carpenter does his best to defend Kramer. While taking care of the dogs from the truck at a dog rescue foundation he operates with friends, he tries to find answers to two questions: What happened to the knife? Why are no dog rescue centers in the Northeast expecting the arrival of these dogs?
In his search for the truth, Carpenter is helped by familiar characters such as Marcus the bodyguard, “the scariest person on the planet,” and Hike the associate lawyer, “the most downbeat person in the history of the world.”
In the end, a minor incident involving a dog enables Carpenter not only to win an acquittal for Kramer, but also to uncover a conspiracy that could have resulted in a national disaster.
Rosenfelt has written mysteries with different protagonists, but the humorous Carpenter series makes him one of the most unforgettable authors in the genre.