“Dog Eat Dog.”

The guy who loves dogs HAS to be innocent, but can Andy prove it?

Andy Carpenter and his entire hilarious crew are back in “Dog Eat Dog.” It is familiar territory for regular readers; all the characters are there. They have matured a little, but their personalities have remained the same. Andy is still Andy, trying to change his phone to 1– 800-I’M RETIRED but somehow taking on a few clients when he absolutely cannot avoid it.  Laurie gives him perspective; they both dote on an older Ricky, and everyone is preoccupied with dogs. The book opens with the inciting event for the story.  The crime might have been a calculated vicious home invasion or it might have been just a robbery gone bad.

While out for a walk, with dogs of course, Andy Carpenter observes an altercation. Matt Jantzen, a fellow dog lover, stopped the abuse of a dog, and although the abuser threw the first punch, Jantzen is detained by the police.  Andy gives Jantzen his card, and it will be needed.  Jantzen is in much bigger trouble with the law; he is wanted for a long-past murder in Maine. Of course Andy is off to Maine to defend him; Jantzen saved a dog; that is the only thing that counts As far as Andy is concerned.

The plot has the expected elements, and the initial murder victim is not the only dead body. Readers follow Andy’s thought processes as he evaluates other possible suspects and tries to avoid being killed himself. There are just too many suspects, and none seem to be viable. Jantzen’s blood was at the scene, but bleeding in a specific place is not a crime. However, DNA evidence pretty much beats everything, and everyone’s DNA is readily available now that everyone submits their DNA to those ancestry sites. There is a possible drug connection, but there are so many informants and double agents that a new conspiracy is hiding under every rock. Of course the case goes to trial, but this trial feels like everyone is slowly being dragged to the edge of a cliff. The results are never really in doubt, Jantzen loves dogs after all, but the specifics are not what readers might have unimagined, and when the details are disclosed, the answers are bombshells.

Every Andy Carpenter book is filled with friendly banter, but the investigation is focused. “Dog Eat Dog” is enjoyable with the perfect balance of drama and suspense. The clues are hidden in plain sight, waiting to be discovered, but easily overlooked. I received a review copy of “Dog Eat Dog” from David Rosenfelt, Minotaur Books, and St. Martin’s Publishing Group.  I read my first Andy Carpenter novel years ago, and enjoy each new adventure for Andy and the gang. For new readers, I recommend reading this book, and then going back and reading them all.