I was racing through a preview copy of Mike Carey's latest in his Fix Castor series, Dead Men's Boots (sorry, not out until July), when I screeched to a halt. It wasn't because Carey's book had lost steam – to the contrary, his books (including The Devil You Know and The Vicious Circle) pitch headlong down the literary demon-filled path. I stopped because I stumbled across a used book for sale, one that had been out of print and hard to get for far too long, one I had never had a chance to read.
David Rosenfelt's Open and Shut begins his great Andy Carpenter series. Andy is a lawyer with a sense of humor, sometimes with too developed a sense of humor for judges, fellow attorneys, his estranged wife, and investigator girlfriend -- but not for Rosenfelt's readers!
Andy is a criminal defense attorney. His father, Nelson, was a legendary prosecutor. Nelson has urged Andy to represent on appeal a man Nelson had completely and competently sent to death row. Andy accepts what seems to be a lost cause to please his father. Before long, Andy truly believes his client is an innocent man, a belief that flies in the face of the massive evidence, however circumstantial, to the contrary.
Andy's life apparently has not been complicated enough by this case; three startling and life-changing events also occur. Nelson dies. Andy's estranged wife returns for a reconciliation, putting Andy's girlfriend/investigator in the intolerable position of having to work for her now ex-boyfriend. Nelson has left Andy $22 million. Surprise!
Rosenfelt writes with energy, humor, and an insider's knowledge – although Rosenfelt is not a lawyer -- of the vagaries and variances of the legal system.
The good news is Warner Books has recently re-released Open and Shut. And, lucky you, you don't have to scrounge around for a mangy dog-eared copy like I did.
(Speaking of dogs … one of the unforgettable characters is Andy's golden retriever, Tara. Rosenfelt had the real Tara, and he has started the Tara Foundation to rescue golden retrievers, 4000 of them to date.)