“Silent Bite”

This will not be a fun Christmas for Andy Carpenter, attorney-at-law; murder cases do not follow a holiday calendar, but it will be fun for readers; Carpenter and crew are back in “Silent Bite,” book twenty-two. Readers know the characters; it is almost like visiting with relatives who live out of town; they have matured, but their personalities have remained the same. Andy is still Andy; Laurie still gives him perspective; they both dote on an older Ricky, and everyone is preoccupied with dogs.

The book opens with a scene that provides the inciting event for the story.  Following the structure that readers expect and love, the story unfolds in Andy Carpenter’s first person narrative full of sarcasm, self-deprecating humor, and astounding insight.  All the familiar characters are there, along with a few new ones.  Andy makes quick introductions for new readers, and then proceeds to try not to work, not to get killed, and to protect owners of dogs everywhere. He talks to readers, but mostly talks to himself as only Andy can. His account is occasionally interrupted by other accounts so readers know what Andy does not.

The plot has the expected elements; an innocent dog owner is unjustly accused of a dreadful crime. As bodies pile up, conflicting evidence is abundant. Things become complicated in a dark world of warring street gangs, organized crime, and a possible serial killer; it is New Jersey after all. Andy uncovers   something awful that happened in the past and wonders if people might just be waiting a long time for revenge. Of course, the case goes to trial so Andy can have his “Perry Mason moment.” The results are never in doubt, the man owns a dog who loves him after all, but the details, the specifics, are dramatic and unanticipated.

Every Andy Carpenter book is funny, dramatic, and full of unexpected events; “Silent Bite” is no exception. It is enjoyable with just the right amount of drama and suspense. The clues are expertly hidden in plain sight, waiting to be discovered, but easily overlooked. I received a review copy of “Silent Bite” from David Rosenfelt, Minotaur Books, and St. Martin’s Publishing Group.  When I read my first Andy Carpenter novel several years ago, I just had to go back and read them all starting at the first one. For new readers, I recommend reading this book, and then doing the same thing, going back and reading them all.