This time around, I want to talk about one of my favorite series as part of my efforts to discuss some of the most popular and recommended Cozy Mysteries listed on the site. David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter Mystery Series starts out with a bang with Open and Shut, the first of many Andy Carpenter books. Published in 2002, the series will be up to book nineteen in 2019. For those of us who like series with a lot of books, this is a great one!
Before I get started, I must state for the record that this series does contain some non-cozy elements. There are some adult situations (nothing is explicitly described, though) and some adult language. I know that some of you all want to avoid books that contain these things. However, the stories do have a lot of Cozy components.
Andy Carpenter is a defense attorney who lives in Paterson, New Jersey. Andy is not afraid to rock the boat, so to speak, when trying to defend his clients. His courtroom antics do not endear himself to the judges he appears before and probably sometimes push the limits of legal ethics. However, they are often successful.
Andy has a beautiful private investigator, Laurie Collins, working for him. Laurie and Andy on occasion mix professional and personal business together. On the whole, they make a great team who I am sure I would want working for me if I were accused of a crime!
Also included prominently in the series are a number of dogs, first and foremost of which is Andy’s Golden Retriever, Tara. This series makes it very apparent that David Rosenfelt is definitely a lover of dogs. (I haven’t read Rosenfelt’s Lessons from Tara: Life Advice from the World’s Most Brilliant Dog , but I’m guessing that a lot of us dog parents would disagree with Rosenfelt saying that Tara is even more brilliant than our own pups!)
Open and Shut is the story of Andy’s defense of Willie Miller, a death row inmate who Andy’s father had prosecuted successfully for murder seven years before when Andy’s father had been State’s attorney. Andy took on the appeal at the request of Andy’s father who would not go into more detail as to why he wanted Andy to work on the appeal. Andy was reluctant to take on this apparent loser of a case until his father told him, “It would be important to me.”
Andy goes on to explain why he felt compelled to do as his father asked:
There it was, the sentence from which there was no defense. In my family, when you asked a favor of someone, it was acceptable to refuse. But once the person said that it was important to them, it crossed a line and became an absolute imperative. We did not use those words frivolously, and they carried an awesome weight.
Needless to say, the mystery that Andy investigates is complicated and involves a number of secrets which must be revealed with many threads that must be unraveled so that justice may be done.
Open and Shut is a page-turner. Along with the investigation of the mystery and the court room work, the book holds my interest because of the characters, Andy’s terrific sense of humor, and his Golden Retriever, Tara. (Ok, so maybe she is the world’s most brilliant dog!) If you like your mysteries with a bit of humor and more than a bit of an edge, the Andy Carpenter Mystery Series may well be for you too!