Muzzled - David Rosenfelt

Wow. Andy Carpenter #21. That's pretty mind-boggling, I've got to say. The way that Andy's been ramping up the retirement talk over the last couple of books, I can't help but wonder how many more are in store—but I have to expect we'll get a few more. Rosenfelt's army of dogs takes a lot of food. The more the merrier, I say—especially if there are more like this one in the wings.


Andy's contacted by a friend also in the dog rescue biz—she's come into possession of a stray and has been contacted by the owner to retrieve the dog. Which sounds pretty straightforward and good up until the point where she tells Andy the owner's name. He's the victim of a triple murder a few weeks ago when his boat was destroyed by a bomb of some sort. Yeah, you read me right—the victim. Except he clearly escaped and after being on the run for his life a bit, has decided he can't run off without the dog. So he risks life and limb to be reunited with his pet. At this point, the reader (and everyone who knows Andy) realizes that if this man needs legal help, Andy will be his attorney. Andy needs some convincing, however.


And Alex Vogel is going to need Andy's help—if he wasn't one of those killed, the police would like to know, why wasn't he? The explanation that makes the most sense to them is that Alex Vogel made and detonated the bomb, killing his friends. The motive is a little shaky, but that's beside the point.


Alex gives Andy one possible reason that he'd be targeted, and while he doesn't buy it, he has nothing else to go on, so while Andy tries to come up with an idea of his own, he spends a lot of time exploring that. In a long-running series like this is, it's the little differences that really stick out and keep things fresh. It took Andy a <i>painfully</i> long time to come up with an alternative theory of the case. And while I found it frustrating that he was so slow, I appreciated that Rosenfelt let things go that way. I also admit that it's not fair for me to judge, as the reader has access to some third-person narration portions of the novel that Andy doesn't.


Whether looking for flaws in the Prosecution's case, running down Alex's theory, or trying to find an alternative, Andy and his regular band (which includes <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The K Team</a> now) are as fun as always. The narration is clever, the humor is witty, the case complex, the herrings are red, the dogs are adorable—all the elements of a solid Andy Carpenter novel are there.


As I was mulling over this book this week, I'd mentally drafted a paragraph thinking about this one in the context of the series as a whole. At some point, it seemed pretty familiar, so I looked up what I said about <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><b>Dachshund Through the Snow</b></a>, the twentieth novel in the series. I'd said pretty much the same thing about that book as I wanted to say about this one. It doesn't say much for my originality, but it says something about Rosenfelt.


I've read them all—some twice—and while I've never read a bad Andy Carpenter book, there were a few that were simply "fine" (that's not a complaint, I'll take a fine book over a lot of others), but there's been a resurgence in the last five or so, particularly in the last two. In both of them Rosenfelt has done something I couldn't/didn't see coming, breaking his tried-and-true formula. Rosenfelt has no reason to do that at this point, he could keep churning out these books and his fans (including me), would keep gobbling them up. But he's taking risks, he's doing relatively daring things (while remaining true to the world he's created).


I really liked this book on its own merits, I loved it in the context of the rest. Does that mean a new reader has to read the other twenty before this one? No—any of these novels are a good jumping on point, you'll end up wanting to read some/all of the earlier ones though. A smart legal thriller—great stuff out of the courtroom, and amusing antics in it (I'll never tire of reading Andy cross-examining a witness). <b>Muzzled</b> is one of the best in this great series.


<i><b>Disclaimer:</b> I received this eARC from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley in exchange for this post—thanks to both for this. As always, my opinions remain my own.</i>
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