Review

Dead Center

by David Rosenfelt



Many attorneys battling the stress and anxiety of their daily
travails often contemplate what life might be like if only they
were granted the unique luxury of a lawyer such as Andy Carpenter,
David Rosenfelt's fictional courtroom warrior making his fifth
appearance in DEAD CENTER. When first introduced to readers in OPEN
AND SHUT, Carpenter found himself to be the beneficiary of two
fortuitous events that changed his life and legal career. He
inherited $22 million from his father and then parlayed that event
with a large civil recovery for a wrongfully convicted client.
Carpenter now has a double whammy that allows him to lead a life
that most lawyers would envy. Unlimited financial resources,
coupled with egalitarian financial needs, give Andy Carpenter the
luxury of picking and choosing only those cases where the client
and the crime make Carpenter committed to righting a legal
wrong.


While life is good for Andy, it is not perfect. DEAD CENTER opens
with Andy in the throes of a romantic calamity. The love of his
life, Laurie Collins, who served as his investigator in previous
cases, has returned to her home in Wisconsin to become acting Chief
of Police. The distance between the Badger State and Andy's home in
New Jersey has all but snuffed out the fire of their romance.
Events in Laurie's hometown allow Andy and Laurie to reestablish
their relationship while Andy continues in his neverending battle
against injustice.


Laurie has arrested Jeremy Davidson for a multiple homicide. The
victims of the brutal murder are Davidson's girlfriend and another
young woman. The evidence appears substantial against Davidson, but
Laurie has doubts. She calls Andy and requests that he consider
taking Davidson's case. Perhaps it is the nature of the case or
maybe the young defendant that finally lures Andy to travel to
Wisconsin. One factor that cannot be denied is the opportunity for
Andy to reconnect with Laurie. He heads to Wisconsin with his
faithful dog Tara and his cast of supporting investigators and
attorneys to represent a man he firmly believes to be innocent of
wrongdoing.


While Findlay, Wisconsin, may be Laurie's hometown and place of
work, the real action for DEAD CENTER occurs in nearby Center City,
a closely knit religious community that zealously guards its
community and the lives of its residents. Andy must pierce that
shell of privacy and in his desire to accomplish that task he
acquires many enemies. In Andy's previous legal adventures only his
spirit and legal ability were tested. In Center City he finds his
life in serious physical danger.


David Rosenfelt has a wonderful ability to create characters,
action and plots that are faced-paced, witty and just plain
enjoyable. DEAD CENTER follows the pattern established by Rosenfelt
in the series's four previous mysteries. The author has a
substantial resume for television and movie script-writing. That
expertise shows in the interesting plots and characters that occupy
the pages of these novels.


DEAD CENTER is only missing one aspect of the Rosenfelt touch. In
earlier novels Andy spent much more time in court. His acerbic
humor and envelope-pushing repartee with judges and opposing
attorneys were Rosenfelt's best writing. Aficionados of courtroom
thrillers always found Andy's antics to be humorous but realistic
as he often engaged in biting commentary and tactics that would
drive his opponents to distraction. DEAD CENTER finds Andy spending
substantially more time as an investigator rather than as a
litigator, and there is not much time spent in Wisconsin
courtrooms. In some respects that makes this fifth mystery in the
series a stimulating change of pace for both author and
reader.


This slight difference in what remains a quality mystery series
does not detract from another page-turning work that should find
its way to the top of your summer reading list.


   














Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on December 29, 2010

Dead Center
by David Rosenfelt

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press
  • ISBN-10: 0892960027
  • ISBN-13: 9780892960026