Paterson’s laziest lawyer is dragged back into the courtroom for a 17th time in his most reluctant role yet: as defender of his wife’s ex-boyfriend.
The police arrest Dave Kramer for the best of all possible reasons: He confesses to killing Kenny Zimmer. Two years earlier, well after he’d broken up with Laurie Collins, Kramer, an ex-cop–turned–private eye, had beaten up Zimmer, who admitted to assaulting the 15-year-old daughter of Kramer’s client but had laughed off Kramer’s attempts to find evidence against him. The police declined to press charges; Kramer lost his license; and bad blood continued until the day Kramer says Zimmer asked him to meet at a rest stop to discuss their ongoing issues, invited him inside the truck he arrived in, and pulled a knife on him, provoking Kramer to shoot him in self-defense. Unfortunately for Kramer, the police can find no trace of either a knife or the third party Kramer insists must have removed it from the truck. Fortunately for Kramer, dog-loving attorney Andy Carpenter (Collared, 2017, etc.) has already spent several hours at the scene because he agreed to take in the 61 rescue dogs Zimmer was transporting north in the truck. Will Andy oblige Laurie by agreeing to defend the former boyfriend who dumped her? If you know the answer to that question, you won’t be very mystified by the murder either, especially since Rosenfelt obligingly keeps cutting away to a series of dark vignettes showing a quartet of rogue government operatives plotting something big and nefarious in New Jersey’s heartland that’s somehow connected to the mass exodus of rescued dogs.
Rosenfelt, like Dick Francis, keeps coming up with inventive ways to ensnare his hero in cases involving animals. But this time, the mystery, fueled by his persistent fondness for implausible government intrigue, is thin, and the hero, presumably because he’s defending his beloved wife’s ex, is less funny than usual.