David Rosenfelt deftly works in wry humor, a love of dogs and New Jersey gangsters in "Hounded," his highly entertaining 12th legal thriller featuring attorney Andy Carpenter.
Andy, who lives comfortably but not outlandishly on an inheritance, likes to joke that he doesn't take on new clients, preferring to spend time with his girlfriend and business partner Laurie Collins, and their golden retriever, Tara. But this case becomes personal.
By David Rosenfelt
Minotaur, 320 pages, $25.99
Police Capt. Pete Stanton asks Andy to care for Ricky Diaz, whose father, ex-convict Danny, has been murdered, and also to house Ricky's basset hound, Sebastian. Andy would never turn away a dog in need, but he's never been asked to take in a child. Pete maintains he doesn't want the child "to be thrown into the system." Laurie enthusiastically welcomes Ricky, while Andy agrees a bit more reluctantly.
Two days later, Pete is arrested for killing Danny, who had reported that this highly respected cop was dealing drugs. Andy believes his good friend is being set up, and he works as Pete's defense attorney, enlisting his wide circle of employees to prove his case in court. Pete's arrest seems linked to his investigation into the deaths of several prominent residents.
Rosenfelt creates believable characters and balances a hard-hitting legal thriller with well-placed wisecracks in "Hounded." He continues to explore Andy's personality, allowing him to change and grow in each novel. Scenes in which Andy and Ricky bond are heartwarming and realistic, yet they don't detract from the complex plot. Andy's sideline of rescuing dogs to find them permanent homes -- which the author shares with his character -- never overwhelms the story.
Andy knows that a bond with dogs can change both adults and children, he never gives up on a client -- or a canine.