His wife and chief investigator Laurie’s hyperextended Christmas season brings Paterson lawyer Andy Carpenter a new dog, a litter of new puppies, and a new murder case.
Very shortly after Andy, moved by the Christmas spirit and his insatiable attraction to every pooch he meets (The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, 2016, etc.), gives some money to homeless Iraq War vet Don Carrigan and Zoey, his canine companion, the target of his charity is attacked by a man he and Zoey handily repel. Sgt. Nathan Robbins, who responds to the scene, does nothing but confiscate Zoey, who’s bitten the assailant. Andy, seeking to fill this uncharitable vacuum by actually doing something to help, makes matters worse when he gives his friend Vince Sanders Don’s information for a human-interest story in Vince’s paper. The unexpected result is that Don’s arrested for the robbery and murder of wealthy Short Hills businessman Steven McMasters, a man who’d seem to be far outside his orbit if the cops hadn’t found a cap with Don’s DNA at the murder scene and a ring stolen from McMasters in the locked locker at the soup kitchen Don frequents. Since Essex County prosecutor Raymond Tasker also has an informant who testifies that Don confessed to him, a guilty verdict looks like a foregone conclusion. But fans will know not to count out Andy, ebullient as ever as he struggles to link McMasters’s murder to a rash of sniper killings in the area.
Middling for this irresistible series, whose hero’s old friend asks him at one point: “Are you ever going to stop being a pain in the ass?” Goodness, let’s hope not.