In 1817, poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge coined the phrase “willing suspension of disbelief.” He suggested that if a writer could inject human interest and a smidgen of truth into a fantastic tale of fiction, then readers would suspend judgment concerning the unlikely story that was unfolding on the pages of the novel they were reading. Put another way by a fellow attorney with whom I was discussing an implausible courtroom fiction scenario: “In fiction, plot often trumps the truth.” The willing suspension of disbelief is not a bad practice. In the hands of a great writer, it often results in fast-paced and entertaining stories featuring crackling good characters. David Rosenfelt is such an author. His latest courtroom novel featuring attorney Andy Carpenter is UNLEASHED, the 11th in the series, and is a page-turner from beginning to end.
"UNLEASHED may be Carpenter’s 11th adventure, but the story is as fresh as the first. Rosenfelt shows no signs of losing his edge, and readers are already eagerly awaiting the next installment."
After a career as a movie marketer, Rosenfelt turned to writing. He has penned five stand-alone legal-based novels in addition to the Andy Carpenter series. Andy is a unique lawyer with inherited wealth and a commitment to justice. His secure financial status affords him the luxury of accepting only those cases where he passionately believes in the innocence of his client. His other passion, which he shares with his creator, is dogs. Both Andy and Rosenfelt love golden retrievers, and they are often important actors in the stories. In fact, Rosenfelt is the chairman of the Tara Foundation, an organization responsible for rescuing thousands of dogs.
UNLEASHED opens in an unusual venue for a Carpenter novel. It is not the typical New Jersey courthouse but instead the mountain regions of Pakistan, where a convoy of terrorists will soon be destroyed by a drone missile attack. This killing becomes a critical element of the book, and readers will find themselves rapidly switching from courtroom to terrorist cell as the story unfolds.
Over the course of many years, Andy has acquired a large supporting cast of characters in his adventures. His love interest, Laurie, also serves as his investigator. His muscle, a silent enforcer named Marcus, has the ability to protect Andy from whatever evil forces are seeking to do him harm. Sam Willis is a meek and quiet accountant whose magical computer skills are invaluable to Andy’s criminal investigations. In UNLEASHED, Sam has a potential client for Andy: investor Barry Price, who is searching for the services of a criminal attorney. Barry also seeks Sam’s financial help, and the two plan to fly to an unknown location on Barry’s private plane.
Sam is delayed on his way to the airport when, after striking a dog on the road, he stops to render assistance. The delay saves Sam’s life because Barry flies without Sam and perishes in a plane crash. When Barry’s widow and Sam’s high school friend, Denise, is charged with Barry’s murder, who else but Andy to take the case? From there, the plot takes many twists and turns, always following Coleridge’s willing suspension of disbelief. While the plot may have some flaws, the story never falters. Rosenfelt writes with a staccato style that keeps readers on edge from page to page.
Andy Carpenter gets away with quite a bit, both inside and outside the courtroom. His sense of justice and sense of humor shine on the pages of his latest mystery. UNLEASHED may be Carpenter’s 11th adventure, but the story is as fresh as the first. Rosenfelt shows no signs of losing his edge, and readers are already eagerly awaiting the next installment.
Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on August 2, 2013