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by David Rosenfelt
Minotaur, October 2018
359 pages
ISBN: 1250198488

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

No good deed goes unpunished, as lawyer Andy Carpenter learns when he helps a homeless man with a pregnant dog during the Christmas season.

Lawyer Andy Carpenter has a "think globally, act locally" solution to the homeless problem. He gives that individual homeless person twenty bucks. The situation is made more tragic, in Andy's eyes, if the person has a dog; in that case, "I give the man twenty dollars, and a PetSmart gift card for fifty dollars." We should all be so generous. This time, the gift makes Andy's life very complicated. His wife gets in on the act, and Don Corrigan winds up living in the apartment over Andy's garage, along with his pregnant dog Zoey. The complications arise when Don is arrested for the murder of a man he says he's never met and doesn't know: Steven McMaster. McMaster is a wealthy business man. If Don doesn't know him, how did Don's hat (with DNA) get into the garage where Steven was killed? How did Steven's custom-made ring get into Don's locker at the homeless shelter?

While this mess is going on, there is a serial sniper on the loose, killing anyone connected to the divorce case of Chuck Simmons. The sniper is very good, although a bit careless about leaving behind clues that lead directly to him. His success makes anyone connected to his divorce more than a little nervous, as people only tangentially connected are being shot. What, if anything, does this have to do with Don Corrigan? A good question, and one which astute readers of mystery fiction will do well to consider as they match wits with David Rosenfelt and his story.

Rosenfelt has been writing about Andy Carpenter for a long time. This is the 19th book in the series. One doesn't keep one's publisher these days if one doesn't keep one's readers happy. Rosenfelt does a good job of this. His characters are believable, and even if they aren't pleasant, it's difficult to totally hate any one of them. Andy and his wife Laurie are good people doing good things in a world of unpleasant and uncomfortable truths. Long-time readers will know that dogs inhabit any world Rosenfelt creates; while not central to the plot, dogs are a part of Don's world, as well as Andy's. Andy writes about northern New Jersey - Paterson, to be specific. He seems to be very comfortable writing about the small-town feel of Paterson, as well as the big-city connections inherent in any place so close to The City, as all northern New Jersey residents refer to NYC. All in all, DECK THE HOUNDS bears little real relationship to the adorable puppies on the cover, and it's still a satisfying holiday read.

§ I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I have been a preliminary judge for the Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Press Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Contest for at least 25 years. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs.

Reviewed by PJ Coldren, October 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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