First things first: is this not the cutest cover image ever?
Secondly, I'm not a <i>Today</i> watcher, but my wife is when she's home sick from work. This mini-rant from Andy was exactly what I've been thinking.<blockquote>I am a creature of habit, and by this time I am always in the den, watching the <u>CBS Morning News.</u> I used to watch the <u>Today Show</u>, until they came up with something called "The Orange Room." Basically, they go there to tell us what people are tweeting to the Today Show Orange Room. People who would take the time to tweet to the Today Show Orange Room are month the people in the world whose opinions interest me least, so I stopped watching it.</blockquote>
On to the book itself, which is what I'm supposed to be talking about --
By this time it's pretty much assumed that Andy will be taking in a dog for the duration of whatever case he takes up (after being forced/tricked into it by this point), and he does so this time -- a six year-old Basset Hound named Sebastian. However, this one comes with an accessory Andy's not used to -- an eight year old boy named Ricky.
You see, Andy's friend Pete Collins was pretty good friends with Ricky's dad, Danny Diza, and an Uncle-figure to Ricky. And Ricky's was just murdered, so until the system is able to place Ricky in a permanent home, Pete asks Laurie and Andy to take him in. Why doesn't Pete do that? Well, he's going to be arrested for Danny's murder. Never mind that Pete Collins is about the best that the local Police Department has. Thankfully, he does have super-defense attorney as his best friend.
The number of people in Andy's social circle who haven't charged with murder is getting pretty slim at this point. He's either going to have to make other friends, or do some marketing. Hate to have to see Andy defend Marcus.
Ricky's presence brings out a side in Laurie we had heretofore not seen, but should've known were there. Similar sides in Edna (of all people) and Marcus (!) are brought out as well. Very fun to see the latter two, and heartwarming to see the former. The Ricky-factor alone elevates this particular Carpenter novel.
This case involves a conspiracy, as is almost always the case lately. But this time, it's on a smaller scale -- no worldwide terrorist networks or anything. Just one murder leading to a few others that are trying to be kept quiet by some mysterious and nefarious people. It's definitely in Andy Carpenter's wheelhouse, and just the thing his readers are looking for.
Here's the thing that bugs me, and is a minor spoiler -- very minor since I'm describing something that <i>didn't</i> happen: At no point in time did Andy or Laurie -- or some psychologist/counselor they hire -- talks to Ricky about the events of the night his father was killed. He was upstairs when it happened. I'm not saying it wouldn't have been tough, it likely wouldn't have given Andy much to work with in the defense (I know that because I read Rosenfelt's narration, Andy didn't), but still, you've got to do it to save Pete's neck, right?
Other than that, the only beef I have is that I talked myself out of the solution at one point. I was pretty annoyed with myself when Andy figured it out.
Despite the ongoing drought of song-talking between Andy and Sam, this is one of the better entries in the series, and was a lot of fun to read. It featured the typical courtroom antics, banter between Andy and the gang, adoration of Tara, and so on. Not to mention the laugh-out-loudest Marcus joke ever, some welcome character arcs developments, and the most "awww"-inducing closing paragraph that I've read in ages.