Review

Sudden Death

by David Rosenfelt



When a mystery writer creates an engaging character with ample
opportunity for enticing cases, a series is born and readers await
with anticipation each new installment of crime solving. SUDDEN
DEATH, by David Rosenfelt, is the fourth mystery that features Andy
Carpenter as a crime-solving criminal defense attorney. Both
Carpenter and Rosenfelt appear on the way to long and successful
careers in the mystery business.

Andy Carpenter has a luxury that most lawyers would love to
possess. He inherited $22 million from his father, and that
bankroll allows him the opportunity to pick not only his clients
but his cases as well. In one of his earlier novels he successfully
represented Willie Miller, wrongfully convicted of murder. Miller's
release and subsequent civil suit continue to make everyone around
Andy financially secure. That group includes Miller, Andy's
secretary Edna, his associate Kevin Randall, and Laurie Collins,
who serves as Carpenter's private investigator and love
interest.

As the novel opens, Carpenter and Miller are on their way to
California to meet with movie producers to discuss a possible film
surrounding Willie and his vindication. Prior to becoming an
author, Rosenfelt had a career in Hollywood, and the opening scenes
of SUDDEN DEATH are an entertaining and humorous look at the West
Coast lifestyle. Soon after arrival the wining and dining
commences, and within a day Andy and Willie are on a flight back to
New Jersey speculating in their minds as to who will portray them
in the movie that will chronicle their achievements.

But before the casting call can begin, a new client needs Andy's
services. Kenny Schilling is a star running back for the New York
Giants. Andy meets his new client while he is barricaded in his
home surrounded by police officers. Also inside the home is the
corpse of Tony Preston, wide receiver for the New York Jets. The
evidence appears overwhelming, but Carpenter finds other facts
indicating that Schilling was framed. Of course the reader knows
that Andy will establish his client's innocence, but how he
accomplishes that task makes SUDDEN DEATH great mystery
reading.

Rosenfelt has two wonderful writing talents that serve him well in
the mystery milieu. In addition to Andy Carpenter, a cast of quirky
and interesting characters --- some previously introduced in the
series, and some who make appearances only in this saga --- are
portrayed. All of them are interesting individuals who add to the
story and plot development. In SUDDEN DEATH Andy's girlfriend
Laurie must decide whether she should return to her hometown to
resume her law enforcement career. As both Andy and Laurie wrestle
with that dilemma, so does the reader. Caring about characters is
what distinguishes good mysteries from mediocre efforts. This
series creates characters who readers genuinely care about.

Rosenfelt's other ability comes in his creation of courtroom
scenes. Many legal-related novels fall apart when they enter the
courtroom. For a non-lawyer, Rosenfelt has a wonderful ability to
capture what transpires before a judge and jury. Sometimes Andy
does get away with a few strategies that real-life attorneys would
not attempt, but after all this is fiction, not real life, and plot
sometimes trumps life. A future Andy Carpenter novel may find him
toiling for even longer periods of time in the courtroom. It would
not make Rosenfelt's effort any less readable or enjoyable.

What is the best recommendation that one can give a mystery such as
SUDDEN DEATH? Perhaps there are two. The first is to observe that
each new episode of the series continues to maintain the quality of
previous installments. The characters and style are by now
comfortable to readers. You can enjoy this book, go back to
previous Carpenter adventures and get up to speed without a
problem. The second recommendation is perhaps even stronger. This
reader anxiously awaits Andy Carpenter's next case. There is no
doubt that it will be another enticing courtroom adventure.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on January 23, 2011

Sudden Death
by David Rosenfelt

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446612871
  • ISBN-13: 9780446612876