The Twelve Dogs of Christmas
Andy Carpenter #15
By: David Rosenfelt
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Publication Date: 10/18/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars Defense lawyer Andy Carpenter usually tries to avoid taking on new cases at all costs. But this time, he’s happy―eager, even―to take the case that’s just come his way. Andy’s long-time friend Martha “Pups” Boyer takes in stray puppies that the local dog rescue center can’t handle, raises them until they’re old enough to adopt, and then finds good homes for them. Not everyone admires the work Pups does as much as Andy does, however. With Christmas just around the corner, one of Pups’s neighbors has just reported Pups to the city for having more than the legal number of pets in her home under the local zoning laws.
Andy happily takes Pups’s case, and he feels confident in a positive outcome. Who could punish someone for rescuing puppies, after all, especially at Christmastime? But things get a lot more complicated when Randy Hennessey, the neighbor who registered the complaint against Pups, turns up dead. Pups had loudly and publicly threatened Hennessey after he filed his complaint, and Pups was also the one to find his body. All the evidence seems to point to Pups as the killer, and suddenly Andy has a murder case on his hands. He doesn’t believe Pups could be guilty, but as he starts digging deeper into the truth behind Hennessey’s murder, Andy may find himself facing a killer more dangerous than he ever imagined.
With his trademark wit, larger-than-life characters, and clever plotting, David Rosenfelt delivers another gripping mystery.
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My favorite holiday read this season! David Rosenfelt returns with his favorite series, following (2016) Outfoxed (Andy Carpenter #14), with THE TWELVE DOGS OF CHRISTMAS (Andy Carpenter #15). One heck of a legal thriller with plenty of mystery, suspense, wit, skill, detective work and a little Christmas cheer! Andy Carpenter does not like to spend the pre-holiday period on a case- in fact, he tries to work as little as possible. He is rich and does not need to work. But the world seems to be crying out for this fun-loving witty lawyer’s expertise, to provide legal genius to those targeted by the justice system. So he tries to do his part. However, this case is a bit different. This one, he is eager to take. His client’s name is Martha Boyer, known as “Pups”, or the Puppy Lady. She is 68 years old, and a feisty thing. Her husband died in a drive-by shooting in Paterson a year and a half ago. He was leaving a restaurant with a friend and had the misfortune of being near a gang member when the shooting started. The husband Jake Boyer and the gang member were killed, while Boyer’s friend, David Barnett, emerged unscathed. Pups continued to live in their house in New Jersey about ten blocks away from Andy. Some people do not like her but Andy does. What is not to love, she says what is on her mind, takes no bull, funny, and she is a dog lover. She does not care for the social niceties. She also has a bad cough and is very sick. She never uses any income (which she has plenty), but you wouldn't know it. Her husband was quite a wealthy man with all the land and real estate he left for her. The animal shelters in Passaic County leave quite a bit to be desired. They are overcrowded and animals that aren’t adopted can get put down. This is one reason Andy and Willie have their Tara Organization. Puppies or newborns create a particular problem for shelters and take special care. They are prone to disease. This is where Pups steps in. People bring the puppies directly to her, even the shelter managers sends them to her. They have a better chance and she never turns them away. She seldom has less than twenty-five pups at any given time. She does not care what anyone thinks and says what’s on her mind. However, now the problem is --someone had recently filed an anonymous complaint against Pups, claiming that the zoning law for the area in which she lives, specifically limits the number of pets per household to three. At the time it was filed, she had twenty-six, above the legal limit. She has thirty days to make a choice and this is when Andy steps in to help her. Jail? Why would anyone in their right mind do this when none of the neighbors cared. Is it so close to Christmas? A setup? However, there is much more to this problem than what you see. It gets very complex. The person was Randy Hennessey. Now this person is dead. Pups is arrested for the murder. None of this makes sense, and Andy suspects there is more than meets the eye. He is determined to get his entire team on board to go back to the gang shooting and re-visit Jake’s death. Somehow this has got to be tied to the former crime. But why has someone waited this long to set up Pups, and what is their motive? Does it have anything to do with the land, or a hidden agenda to get Pups out of the way? To further complicate matters, Pups is dying with only a few months to live. Cancer. He will not leave her sitting in jail sick and dying, with her love of dogs and all the good she does for others. An intense race against time. With his investigation which turns dangerous, he finds a son which never came around, a broker, gang members, and a lawyer. How does this guy being murdered and placing the same gun used to kill Pup’s husband more than a year and a half ago- now in her basement? In the meantime, there is also a Senator involved with a little blackmail and a sex tape. When opening the will, it is further proof, Martha has nothing to gain from murdering her husband, nor anyone else. Add in little sports, a left-handed baseball pitcher, and a blackjack dealer to offer some clues to the mystery and conspiracy to commit murder. Wow, this was one twisted and multi-layered interesting case, and Andy, as usual, offers the witty entertainment we all love, plus the skilled legal expertise and lots of courtroom drama. (Read in one sitting) As always, a huge fan of golden retrievers, mysteries, and legal thrillers (a nice combo), readers get caught up with Tara the golden and Sebastian, the basset hound, with the nightly walks and talks. Also Laurie, his ex-cop wife, and Ricky his adopted son. Currently, their little family all have different last names, and Laurie wants to remedy this for Ricky’s sake. When you put Andy, Willie, and a tenacious older altruistic woman, together---who wants nothing more than to give pups a home, you have a fight on your hands- unstoppable! For those of you who may think this is a cheesy Christmas silly story. It is nothing of the such. A fast action legal thriller with a lot of twists and turns. One of my favorites in the Andy Carpenter’s series! No cheese here. A perfect book for those who love legal thrillers, dogs, humor, and an engaging holiday Christmas tale. If you are unaware of David’s story, read about his incredible Tara Foundation (as in the book). This one is for my Golden “Duke” I had the pleasure of knowing for fourteen glorious years.
About the Author
I am a novelist with 27 dogs.
I have gotten to this dubious position with absolutely no planning, and at no stage in my life could I have predicted it. But here I am.
My childhood was relentlessly normal. The middle of three brothers, loving parents, a middle-class home in Paterson, New Jersey. We played sports, studied sporadically. laughed around the dinner table, and generally had a good time. By comparison, “Ozzie and Harriet’s” clan seemed bizarre.
I graduated NYU, then decided to go into the movie business. I was stunningly brilliant at a job interview with my uncle, who was President of United Artists, and was immediately hired. It set me off on a climb up the executive ladder, culminating in my becoming President of Marketing for Tri-Star Pictures. The movie landscape is filled with the movies I buried; for every “Rambo”, “The Natural” and “Rocky”, there are countless disasters.
I did manage to find the time to marry and have two children, both of whom are doing very well, and fortunately neither have inherited my eccentricities. A number of years ago, I left the movie marketing business, to the sustained applause of hundreds of disgruntled producers and directors. I decided to try my hand at writing. I wrote and sold a bunch of feature films, none of which ever came close to being actually filmed, and then a bunch of TV movies, some of which actually made it to the small screen. It’s safe to say that their impact on the American cultural scene has been minimal.
About fourteen years ago, my wife and I started the Tara Foundation, named in honor of the greatest Golden Retriever the world has ever known. We rescued almost 4,000 dogs, many of them Goldens, and found them loving homes. Our own home quickly became a sanctuary for those dogs that we rescued that were too old or sickly to be wanted by others. They surround me as I write this. It’s total lunacy, but it works, and they are a happy, safe group. Read More