Only one of Paterson attorney Andy Carpenter’s two new cases seriously involves a dog, but that dog is the star of his show.
Sgt. Corey Douglas, Andy’s sometime adversary, is retiring from the Paterson Police Department, and he’d like his canine partner, Simon Garfunkel, to join him. But although Simon has put in seven stalwart sniffing years and is starting to show signs of arthritis, he’s only nine, one year shy of the department’s retirement age for dogs. So Andy agrees to represent him—that’s right, Simon is his client—in his species discrimination suit against the department. Sadly, that suit is settled all too quickly, leaving the way clear for a second case that’s both more consequential and more routine. Young Danny Traynor sends three Christmas wishes to a local giving tree—a coat for his mother, a sweater for his dachshund, Murphy, and the safe return of his father—that attract the attention of Laurie Collins, Andy’s wife and investigator. The sweater is a simple matter, but the problem of freelance writer Noah Traynor is much more serious, since he’s just been arrested for the strangling of college-bound Kristen McNeil 14 years ago after his brother’s submission to a DNA registry finally leads the police to Noah’s door. The circumstantial evidence against Danny’s father is daunting, but Andy is dauntless, and he’s soon bringing his trademark wisecracks into court once more. A newly discovered bit of evidence turns the case upside down at the last minute, though readers familiar with Rosenfelt’s fondness for double twists (Bark of Night, 2019, etc.) will be too canny to take even this late-breaking news flash at face value.
The main course can’t top the opening act because the dog is the consistently amusing hero’s most appealing client ever.