“Deck the Hounds”

hounds“Deck the Hounds” by David Rosenfelt is not a sappy holiday story with Andy Carpenter listening to carolers and chasing fake Santas; neither are the dogs dressed up in Santa outfits, but it is a cute cover. The book just happens to start out in November. It is Thanksgiving in Patterson New Jersey, and it is not a time to be out on the street and certainly not with a dog.

Regular readers just love Andy carpenter for all the things he is and does. New readers can jump right because Rosenfelt   seamlessly incorporates any needed background information into the current the tale or tail depending on whether or not you are one of Andy’s dogs.

Every time Andy runs into a destitute person looking for money, he gives him or her twenty dollars. The current situation is even more heartbreaking for Andy because this homeless person has a dog and needs legal help. Andy is not just reluctant to take on a homeless person as a client, he never wants any clients. He has been trying to retire for years, but he just cannot seem to pull it off. However, because it’s Christmas, Andy takes the case. The whole team is there to assist including Hike, Lynch, Sam, Willie, Edna, Marcus, Vince, Pete, and of course Laurie and Ricky.

Andy Carpenter, doer of good deeds, tells most of the story in his signature first-person style that conveys positions, scenarios, and observations as only he can. Rosenfelt expertly uses alternating points of view to intertwine other storylines and to present information that Andy does not yet know. The chapters are structured so that the story flows easily from one chapter to the next with the first sentence pulling readers into the chapter and the last sentence dangling a little tidbit for later. The pace is consistent, alternating between crime and dog walks, sports and criminals, and conversations and eating. As the body count increases, so do the unanswered questions; it is New Jersey after all. “Too bad the list of things we don’t know is longer.”

There is also a lot of Andy humor intermingled along the way.

 “I’m going to have a cup of coffee while she makes herself some kind of healthy shake, composed of every revolting green vegetable known to humanity. She also adds some kind of powder, which I have to assume is a crushed and dried version of a revolting vegetable.”

Rosenfelt excels at storytelling, and each of the plot lines goes to unanticipated places with deviations that keep readers turning the pages. Ultimately, good triumphs evil, not a surprise there, but the details are complicated and unexpected. As always, at the celebration party assorted secrets come out as Andy fills in gaps that participants (and readers) missed.

I received a copy of “Deck the Hounds” from David Rosenfelt, St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, and NetGalley. I love Andy Carpenter books, as do readers everywhere, because in the end, everyone lives happily ever after with their dogs.