New Maine Times Book Review: Unleashed

Posted Wednesday, August 14, 2013 in Culture

New Maine Times Book Review: Unleashed
By David Rosenfelt.
Minotaur, 2013.
368 pages, $25.99.
ISBN 978-1-2500-2472-5.
Reviewed by William D. Bushnell
    Wise-cracking criminal defense attorney Andy Carpenter has a boatload of money and no clients.  Most of his former clients are already in jail and Andy doesn’t want the hassle of actually having to go to work.  Since he already has plenty of money, work just gets in the way of having fun.  Besides, Andy’s clients usually just lie to him anyway.
    Then, however, Andy’s accountant and best friend, Sam Willis, gets caught up in a murder case involving Sam’s old high school sweetheart.  Her husband has just been killed in a plane crash and the cops discover he didn’t die by accident.  The wife is charged with the murder and Sam asks Andy to defend her.  Bad move.  And things just get worse for Andy and Sam, especially since Sam was also supposed to be on the plane that crashed and killed the husband.  Who was the real target?
    UNLEASHED is the eleventh book in award-winning Maine author David Rosenfelt’s excellent Andy Carpenter mystery series, after LEADER OF THE PACK (Minotaur, 2012).  As with all of Rosenfelt’s superb mysteries, this one is a keeper.  Using vivid action and gripping suspense, Rosenfelt always surprises with clever, original plot twists, and abrupt changes of direction, keeping readers happily on their toes.
    Against his better judgment, Andy takes the wife’s case, but things do not go smoothly right from the start.  He actually believes she is innocent, and focuses on the husband’s curious business dealings, looking for an alternative motive and suspect.  Unfortunately, every time he goes to interview any witnesses they end up dead.  Andy discovers a new meaning for the term “dead end.”
    His preliminary courtroom strategy in the wife’s defense is brilliant, if a bit thin and risky, but it’s a sudden change of his client’s attitude that puts Sam in jail and Andy on the defensive with the judge (despite Andy’s witty courtroom banter).  Andy now must defend his best friend on a charge of murder and the evidence is pretty damaging.  Worst, someone somehow knows Andy’s every move, every thought, and the body count rises.
    Meanwhile, someone is hiring home-grown low-life scumbags for an obscure assassination plot, but becomes dissatisfied with the local talent, deciding to eliminate any loose ends and incompetent employees, confounding the police, the FBI, and Andy’s efforts to defend his friend.
    Before long Andy, his lovely investigator, his ruthless and every efficient bodyguard (yes, even a smart-mouth lawyer needs a capable bodyguard, and it’s a good thing, too), and a group of elderly Jewish computer hackers find themselves unwittingly uncovering a widespread conspiracy of death and destruction scheduled to strike just days away.
    The husband’s odd murder ties it all together, but it may be too late for Andy and Sam, and a whole lot of other innocent people.  Add some smart cops and federal agents, a savvy judge, an embarrassed prosecutor, a stack of rapidly cooling dead bodies, and a long list of liars, charlatans, killers, and people who are not at all what they seem to be, and Rosenfelt has another terrific mystery hit.  Maybe the wife really is innocent.
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