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Collared: An Andy Carpenter Mystery


Collared: An Andy Carpenter Mystery

It is appropriate that David Rosenfelt’s COLLARED relies on DNA evidence and a DNA testing company to establish its plot. This courtroom novel is the 15th Andy Carpenter venture, and after 15 years of his cases, Andy’s traits and style are as deeply embedded in the pages of these books as the biological instructions that form personal DNA.

Andy Carpenter is a wisecracking New Jersey attorney with a boutique legal practice that actually out-boutiques that term. Years ago, he inherited a small fortune and devotes his legal practice to representing those charged with crimes who appear guilty. While there is no fee (to be accurate, he does charge $1), Andy vigorously defends his clients with hard work, exhaustive investigations and a supporting cast that ranges from Marcus, a man of mystery and few words who serves as his personal protector, to his wife Laurie, a former police officer who he met while working on a case.

"As Wachtel’s trial begins and COLLARED moves into the courtroom, Rosenfelt writes with clear knowledge and explanation of what actually occurs in a criminal trial."

The real stars of these books are often canines. David Rosenfelt, through his real-life personal foundation, has rescued more than 4,000 dogs, and Andy supports an identical foundation that plays a prominent role in the series. In COLLARED, a dog is an important item of evidence in a high-profile kidnapping case that occurred two and a half years ago and resulted in the trial and conviction of Keith Wachtel. The kidnap victim was Dylan, the young adopted child of Jill Hickman, Wachtel’s former employer and girlfriend. Dylan has never been located. The dog was present when he was taken, and dog hair provided DNA that led to Wachtel’s conviction.

In the opening pages of COLLARED, someone leaves the dog at Andy’s shelter, and an embedded chip establishes that the pooch is in fact Cody, the “DNA dog” from the Wachtel trial. His appearance raises questions about whether or not Dylan is alive. That preliminary investigation is like pulling the loose thread on a sweater. Wachtel’s conviction begins to unravel, and he is granted a new trial. Andy will be his attorney.

The cast of characters is familiar. Andy works with a small but loyal team. Some of the investigation techniques might not pass the highest ethical standards, but they are always focused on the ultimate goal: freeing someone who has been wrongfully charged. Andy believes that when someone is innocent, every tactic must be used to obtain the only just result: exoneration.

Along the way, there is ample opportunity for levity and some solid courtroom portrayals. Andy is a lighthearted guy (sometimes being independently wealthy will do that for you). He cultivates his law enforcement sources by always picking up the check and by freely providing information as needed. As Wachtel’s trial begins and COLLARED moves into the courtroom, Rosenfelt writes with clear knowledge and explanation of what actually occurs in a criminal trial. Andy occasionally can be a little too caustic and irreverent, and a real-life judge might not allow his behavior to go unpunished. But, after all, Andy is the human star of the series, so he is entitled to some beneficial treatment.

Of course, the non-human stars shine just as brightly. There is always interesting information about the life of canines in these mysteries. Walking his dogs is a critical element of Andy’s trial preparation and contemplation. He often solves his cases while out on a sojourn with his own pets, Tara and Sebastian.

In the opening scenes of COLLARED, Andy must decide if he will continue his legal career, as his attorney registration is up for renewal for the coming year. Obviously, this year the answer is yes. I certainly hope that Rosenfelt is not preparing his readers for retirement. Andy has a lot of good work left. He certainly cannot let his legal practice go to the dogs.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on July 21, 2017

Collared: An Andy Carpenter Mystery
by David Rosenfelt

  • Publication Date: May 22, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250056357
  • ISBN-13: 9781250056351