A #cloakanddaggerchristmas Book Review | “Deck the Hounds” (Book Eighteen of the Andy Carpenter Mysteries) by David Rosenfelt

Posted Sunday, 23 December, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I was approached by Minotaur Books this Winter about reading a selection of their upcoming Mysteries and Suspense novels. I was hoping to read them in the weeks leading into Christmas until I came down with a serious Winter virus which disrupted my plans. Therefore, it became a proper #cloakanddaggerchristmas celebration for me as I settled into these Cosies as the holiday was arriving giving me a comfortable joy of reading the kind of stories I love to discover during this time of the year. Cosies are wonderful all year round but there is something special about the ones that take-on a holiday vibe!

I received a complimentary copy of “Deck the Hounds” direct from the publisher Minotaur Books (an imprint of St. Martin’s Press) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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The reason reading ‘Deck the Hounds’ appealled to me:

I used to read quite a lot of legal dramas and legal mysteries – it has been awhile since a plot inspired me and this one, as it is set at Christmastime felt rather charming!

As a rule, I do love to read series in-progress start to finish; however, there is one small luxury I haven’t had the pleasure of engaging in for a few years, which is to seek out new Mystery series to read by way of reading a ‘holiday’ release within a series and to gauge if I would enjoy reading the rest of the series after entering through the holiday story! I did this previously with “Holiday Grind” for the Coffeehouse Mysteries – which gave me a strong impression of the series at large and I am still working my way back through the series start to finish as a result.

This year, when I was offered the chance to select some books to review for Minotaur Books, I decided to take a chance to see if I could find new series to become engaged inside. One of the descriptions which stood out to me was this one “Deck the Hounds” – as I knew the cover art might be misleading a bit, as it looks like a cute Cosy but something told me to prepare for a hearty story-line inside the cute & fluffy cover!

From what I gathered via their current catalogues of new releases for Cosy Mysteries, Historical Mysteries & Thrillers or Suspense – I have found a new publisher to keep a ready eye out for #newtomeauthors & serials! I’ve selected quite a few I want to seek out in New Year, as a few of my libraries are carrying their authors! I’d love to get to know these new series and see which of the authors I’ve recently discovered by Minotaur Books will become my new beloved favourites of the coming year!

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Deck the Hounds
Subtitle: An Andy Carpenter Mystery
by David Rosenfelt
Source: Direct from Publisher

Reluctant lawyer Andy Carpenter and his faithful golden retriever are back again in David Rosenfelt's dog-centric Christmas mystery Deck the Hounds. A rare act of kindness on Andy's art leads him into a perplexing mystery requiring all of his sleuthing skills, and a little help from his loyal pet.

When Andy sees a dog next to a homeless man, he's inspired o give the pair some money to help. It's just Andy's luck that things don't end there. A little while later, the man and his dog are attacked on the street. The dog defends its new owner, and the erstwhile attacker is bitten but escapes. But the dog is quarantined and the man, Don Carrigan, is heartbroken.

Andy's wife Laurie can't resist helping the duo after learning Andy has met them before... it's the Christmas season after all. In a matter of days Don and his dog Zoey are living above Andy's garage and become two new additions to the family. It's not until Andy accidentally gives away his guest's name during an interview that things go awry; Don, as it turns out is wanted for a murder that happened two years ago. Don not only claim he's innocent, but that he has no idea that he was wanted for a crime he has no knowledge of in the first place. Andy has to exonerate his new friend, if he doesn't get pulled into the quagmire first.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Legal Thriller

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781250198488

Published by Minotaur Books

on 16th October, 2018

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 336

 Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks)
{imprint of} St. Martin’s Press (@StMartinsPress)

The Andy Carpenter Mysteries:

Open and Shut (book one) | First Degree (book two) | Bury the Lead (book three)

Sudden Death (book four) | Dead Center (book five) | Play Dead (book six)

New Tricks (book seven) | Dog Tags (book eight) | One Dog Night (book nine)

Leader of the Pack (book ten) | Unleashed (book eleven) | Hounded (book twelve)

Who Let the Dog Out? (book thirteen) | Outfoxed (book fourteen)

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas (book fifteen) | Collared (book sixteen)

Rescued (book seventeen)

→ Deck the Hounds (book eighteen) *where I begin the series!

Converse via: #AndyCarpenter, #CosyMystery, #LegalThriller & Holiday Humour
Available Formats: Hardcover, Audiobook & Ebook

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I sometimes enjoy listening to audiobook samplers whilst I’m about to read an author for the first time. Especially in this instance, as this is a series well into its rhythm of releases – wherein, I found the character’s voice & tone of delivery to be uniquely different than what I had pre-imagined Andy Carpenter might sound like as a narrated character! Which of course, proves that sometimes what we think a character might be about and who they really are could be two different impressions!

The narrator is Grover Gardner and his voice reminds me of Andy Rooney from “Sixty Minutes” which of course is dating myself but that is okay! If you know of Rooney’s voice, you can imagine how surprised I was that a similar tone of delivery is being used for Andy Carpenter! I guess I hadn’t quite envisioned him the same way but then again, I didn’t have a lot to go on and as this is the 18th book, clearly I am missing a few of his personality quirks! Laughs.

The sampler skips over a pivotal scene with a homeless man & his dog, inserting us directly after the encounter where Andy, his wife Laurie and their son Ricky are discussing the situation shortly after dinner. I could have listened to more of this to gather a bit more insight into Andy & his family but I was thankful to have the sampler available as a precursor to my readings!

One interesting thing to note is that it would appear most if not all of the stories are available via Scribd for those who subscribe to their audiobooks.

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About David Rosenfelt

Rosenfelt is the Edgar and Shamus Award-nominated author of eight stand-alone thrillers and seventeen previous Andy Carpenter novels. A New Jersey native, now living in Maine, he and his wife recently moved with the twenty-five golden retrievers that they've rescued.

After a long and successful career as the President of Marketing for Tri-Star Pictures, he began the Tara Foundation (the basis of Andy Carpenter's foundation) to help find a home for sick or injured dogs. The foundation has rescued over 4,000 dogs from shelters; experiences he relates in his non-fiction books Dogtripping and Lessons from Tara.

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My Review of deck the hounds:

As a prologue of sorts to the story, we find Andy Carpenter giving out twenty dollars and a Petsmart giftcard to a homeless man and his dog. This is pivotal on a variety of levels – as most of us see the homeless regularly in our communities, their either the new musicians busking in our cities or their asking for different kinds of help on their homemade signs. My family and I have oft wondered what is the best way to help (when we’re able) them as it is hard to know if cash is better than a giftcard as most advice (from law enforcement and outreach centres) is to give giftcards for specific items and/or stores is better in lieu of cash as you know where the money is going to be spent vs where it could go instead. I felt it was wonderful this was the opener of the novel as it brings the conversation centerfold to the story and thereby presents a question for each reader who finds the novel.

The second moment of reckoning about misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding the homeless is addressed when Andy Carpenter self-criticises himself for labelling the man he’s trying to help as being uneducated or to a level of education lower than the one he himself has been endowed. It is an interesting segue, as one thing that never equated with homelessness to me is educational differences – as most people who fall on hard times had regular lives prior to dropping down a peg in regards to income and stability of fiances. They had jobs, homes and families; the same as all of us have and many of them chose to be educated at different levels of educational reach – as it would apply to what they did for their careers, so it was a bit of a surprise to me to have a character like Carpenter criticise someone whose without a home to somehow not have the grasp of educational background he would equate with someone else of his peerage? It seems to be a surefire way to short-change your view on your local society but also to marginalise people who don’t need extra headaches of angst when it comes to community opinions on their situations.

What I felt was lovely though is how Andy is shown as taking a leap of faith towards helping this man, Don and his dog Zoey when others haven’t sorted out a way to help them at all. Including of course, the pound where the dog catcher who took in Zoey after the proposed attack (which in theory was a defensive reaction on the dog’s part as her owner was in danger) was not entirely forthcoming with a way to work this out other than following the established order of rules. Andy thereby stepped in at the hour his aide was needed most and could have the most impact. He was of course following the solution his wife pitched forward and one which he wasn’t entirely sure he could back himself but was going to see it through anyway. You could tell between Andy and his wife there was a difference in accepting serendipity and goodwill. He had a good heart but he hesitated when he didn’t fully understand all the details. His wife would lend out her heart to anyone for any reason if she felt she could make a difference in their lives. This is one of the blessings of their marriage you can observe – where one is more cautious, the other is encouraging to take a risk.

I would normally feel like I was out of my depth reading a series this far afield and into nearly twenty volumes of stories – however, Rosenfelt has delivered us so strongly into this story-line, you don’t miss the rest of the series. I am sure as I will one day read through them, I will notice certain nuances of revelation that will aide me as I move forward with the series, but for now, it feels like we are self-contained within this one story and that the larger scope of the series can be put on hold for now.

As we observe Andy, Laurie and Ricky making Don feel at home in their attached flat, we also see his point of view on the same event. He’s a bit more cautious than they are in their generosity; they took it upon themselves to outfit him with whatever he or his dog might need but they didn’t pause to see if he was okay with everything they were setting up for him as from his turn of eyes, everything felt a bit over the top. From the cabinets and fridge being decked out in fresh foods to all the cosier comforts of home being provided, for Don it felt like he was intruding but they simply wanted him to have what he might need without needing to ask for any of it. It is an interesting position to observe – how to give generously but not make someone feel uncomfortable, even though on some levels that might not be avoidable.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact Laurie (Andy’s wife) is a retired cop and is a current private investigator – as this news combined with the fact I knew Andy was a lawyer felt to be the right kind of partnership for their marriage. They would each understand each other in a way that others might not be privy due to their jobs and it would make sense in how they live with empathy in their hearts and an openness towards those they first encounter who might need their help.

The set-up for them to investigate this particular case was slow building and it felt a bit out of sync with the person we’re presented with originally – not that you can judge a man’s guilt based on first impressions but it was how Rosenfelt began the story leading into the arrest that made the whole situation feel rather immediately as if this was a mistaken identity case rather than a case of immediate guilt.

It has been quite a bit since my Legal Thriller days as a reader, which is why I must admit, I can already tell I want to start seeking out Rosenfelt’s series – he has a way of charming you into enjoying his stories. By charm, here I am referring to how he has this ease about his writing style – he presents the facts just as they are giving you ample space to draw your own conclusions or to theorise about the honesty or guilt of the person in the hot seat per whichever case he is disclosing to you and then, in the background – he knits this arc involving Andy and his family. Where it becomes a cosy comforting family affair – where the wife and husband enjoy their work, even if one of them is determined to retire though never quite can obtain that particular status and where you know you can turn to people who will trust their instincts to solve investigations and not rely on rumours.

Running concurrent to the case involving Don – we are finding there are more than one sinister plots moving in the background of the novel. They are brought up like antidotes within a page of footnotes to the current time-line – incidents that are occurring but so far are not cluing into a synchronicity of events which would affect the main thread of interest. They aren’t distracting but they do give you a larger sense that something else might be bubbling just under the surface of what we understand up to this particular junction. I also wondered of course, if this had any leftover effects or influence from the previous seventeen novels – does Rosenfelt write episodically and tie everything together per volume, or are each of the installments individual and self-contained without spill over effects? That was a question I’d have to wait to answer as I tucked back into the main thread involving Don whilst left curious about the new plot points merging into focus.

Andy Carpenter has a tight-knit group of people in his corner, the kind of people you can ask favours of and get things done. Without this circle of people he trusts, I’m unsure if he would have gotten as far as he had with the case. Everything about it stunk a bit like a skunk as outside of the circumstantial evidence point towards his client, the rest of it seemed to be a mash of reasons to accuse him but without evidential support that would correlate with his background or personality traits. This is where Carpenter digs into the finer details – the ones which are overlooked and might need to become reexamined lateron.

It was lovely following in Andy’s footsteps as he sleuthed his way through the evidence, took up a new point of perspective on how to approach the case and even used more of his resources to work towards his gain if he could uncover more evidence that might benefit Don. Meanwhile, his wife and son were progressing with the trimming of the tree and getting Christmas ready for the household. A cute side-story I felt was the fact Zoey was an expectant mother and would soon be having her puppies.

There is a moment of disclosure that Ricky is only celebrating his third Christmas with Laurie and Andy; which makes me question how he came to be a part of their family. I was curious if he was adopted? He’s older than four years old so it would make sense if he was adopted. This is part of the reason I look forward to back-reading the series in the New Year; to dig out these details that knit themselves into the background of the story-line. There is also a well-standing connection to organised crime – where Andy can get information when he needs it and when it pertains to certain individuals or events that parlay themselves into his caseload. That is a connection I am thinking might stem back to the beginning of the series as it seems to be well defined.

There are certain scenes which surprised me – especially when Andy is seen with certain people in his acquaintance who interact with a tougher group of people in his communities than he would normally associate with himself. Yet, he becomes their wingman and tends to take certain risks for the job at hand. The truth is what motivates Andy Carpenter – wherever it could lead him and he wants to unearth it to the point of where it takes root and lays down a foundation of honesty as that is the only route he can see which would atone for the wrongs in life he uncovers as a defense attorney.

From here we entered a traditional legal thriller scenario where we are weaving between investigative sleuthing for clues and the truth prior to the court proceedings and whilst it is already beginning. This is where these stories get rather intense – where your never quite certain who has the cards in their favour and what the jury will ultimately decide to do with the information they’ve been given to preside over as well. What kept this story rather taunt for me is I hadn’t seen Andy Carpenter at work in the courthouse – I wasn’t entirely sure of his method for delivering a case nor of how extensive he works to prove the truth when he believes in his client.

For those reasons, this became a rather intensive reading – I was on pins awaiting to see how all the clues would pierce together but also, how compelling the argument was for the other side as well. There were a lot of red herrings – instances where you nearly felt you understood the conclusion in the case but then, you were taken down another staircase of clues that pointed in different directions. I was actually fascinated by how Rosenfelt stitched this case together – it was almost like he had three cases actively chasing each others’ tails at one point!

The ending for me was the sweetest part of the story – I love how the dogs came back to centre and how in the end, this truly is a story set against a close-knit family whose compassionate heart for others truly takes president over their lives. It has some rougher edges inside it – given the kind of company Andy Carpenter comes into contact with but I for one, enjoyed my respite inside this series. It was definitely one you can read without the benefit of previous stories – a rare treat and one I am thankful I found.

Small Fly in the Ointment:

There were some throwaway stronger words here or there; peppered between the scenes and dialogue exchanges which seemed relevant to the sequences they were involved in however, there was a certain point where I felt perhaps they were being inserted a bit more frequently and it wasn’t warranted. This Cosy has a warm undertone within its chapters to where it has its own rhythm and nature of evolving through its pacing points – I didn’t quite see the advantage to more language being inserted even if it did at times fit the narrative of what was happening in-scene. It is really a ‘cosy’ not a ‘hard-boiled’ noir story and sometimes I think it mistook its own image.

Also, there were a few instances of sarcasm that I think slipped past me as I haven’t read the other stories in the series. When it comes to being Ricky’s father, Andy Carpenter tends to talk to his son as if he’s far older than his years and sometimes wants or wishes rather that he was older than he actually is – this kind of humour sometimes doesn’t float well with me as children (in IRL or in Fiction) should be allowed to be themselves, innocent and open to life’s experiences. Although in retrospect, this does show how Andy is a slightly jaded adult and that might have been the outcome of the exchange Rosenfelt was hoping to ignite in readers but for me some of those instances fell a bit flat.

on the cosiness of reading david rosenfelt’s series:

An interesting thing to note about the Andy Carpenter Mysteries is that Rosenfelt doesn’t use chapter headings or designations – in fact, each segment of the story simply shifts forward into a new sequence; where you would normally find the chapter next in line is merely a blank space and the story continues onward. This is my first novel where I can honestly say I now understand what the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge for 2019 is talking about for ‘non-traditional stories – where there are no chapters or headers’ designating the breakage between sections. It is a different way of reading a story and one that has its own rhythm of pacing, too. I didn’t find it as unusual as I felt I might have originally when I saw this on the reading challenge list, so perhaps, I’ll find other stories which fit this category of interest in the New Year with less trepidation as I had previously?

One note of consideration to applaud Rosenfelt about is how he keeps the dogs in the story inclusive to the plot progressing forward – they are always there, in the background ready to be seen, touched and felt by their presence in Andy’s life. Even Don’s dog Zoey takes to her living arrangements with ease being with two new dogs in her environment. There are little mentions about their lives that only those of us who’ve loved and lost dogs can smile about – such as how they tuck close to each other when lying with a favourite toy to chew or how they like to keep close as budding companions.

There was a moment where Rosenfelt compared the discovery period of a lawyer’s job to be the same as the mystery basket the chefs on Chopped receive to use in their dishes during the competition. You never quite know what your going to be given and it is only your ingenuity to use the ingredients on hand towards your advantage. I admit, I truly like his instincts for telling a Legal Thriller – outside of my previous reading days where I read Grisham and other authors, I most stuck to watching Legal Thrillers on tv; most recently the series Bull. Rosenfelt has a gentle method about his story-telling – he keeps all the thrilling elements inclusive to the story but he pulls back a bit to where I would consider this a Cosy Legal Thriller rather than a Hard Boiled one – something I am thankful to notice as it is a nice switch-up to the traditional faire.

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For the fuller effect of reading Christmas Cosies, I read this story with the joy of hearing Spotlfy’s Peaceful Christmas Piano station in the background of my readings. As the snow drifted down and the candycane striped bar of progression accompanied each piece played – it encompassed the feeling of being Christmassy & hugged inside a new Cosy I loved discovering!

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This book review is courtesy of:

Minotaur Books badge is being used with permission of the publisher.

I would like to extend a note of gratitude to Minotaur Books for finding me & for giving me a lovely introduction to their Christmas Cosy Mysteries & a British Cosy Author I hadn’t heard of previously – as I’m reading and sharing my thoughts & ruminations on behalf of these lovelies I’ve received during Christmas Week!

I had intended to read them sooner but when my health was afflicted by a horrid Winter virus, my plans were altered! I am thankful to say I truly had a #cloakanddaggerchristmas this year & that is partially to being inspired by Minotaur Books for stepping out of my comfort zone & reading a few series out of sequence in order to gain a bit of insight into the author’s collective works!

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Be sure to catch each of my reviews of the following:

Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Toa Heftiba. (Creative Commons Zero)

Deck the Hounds (book eighteen of the Andy Carpenter Mysteries) by David Rosenfelt

Naughty On Ice (book four of the Discreet Retrieval Agency series) by Maia Chance

& Murder at the Mill (book one of the Iris Grey Mysteries) by M.B. Shaw

as these are the lovelies I was sent to become better acquainted with the Mystery authors currently being published by Minotaur Books! Each of them has been a delight!

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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#CloakAndDaggerChristmas badge created by Jorie in Canva

This review is cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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{SOURCES: The Minotaur Books badge, book synopsis for “Deck the Hounds” and author biography for David Rosenfelt were provided by St. Martin’s Press (courtesy of Minotaur Books) and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Audiobook sampler of “Deck the Hounds” was embedded due to codes provided by SoundCloud. Photo of pine cones, apple and mug: Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Toa Heftiba (Creative Commons Zero). Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, Deck the Hounds badge (Photo Credit jorielovesastory.com) and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 23 December, 2018 by jorielov in #cloakanddaggerchristmas, 21st Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Review (non-blog tour), Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Dogs and Puppies, Homeless Residents, Legal Drama, Legal Drama | Courtroom Drama, Legal Thriller, Men's Fiction, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Rescue & Adoption of Animals, Vulgarity in Literature

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2 responses to “A #cloakanddaggerchristmas Book Review | “Deck the Hounds” (Book Eighteen of the Andy Carpenter Mysteries) by David Rosenfelt

    • Hallo, Hallo Lou!

      I was pleasantly surprised to find a Contemporary set Cosy with a male lead myself! This has such a vibe about it – different style than I usually read and the whole story itself was quite unputdownable because of how it was told. I am dearly looking forward to back-reading the series as there were several instances where I thought… ooh, I wonder if that is a flashback to an earlier novel? Not just in the characters moving in and out of the plot but a few nuances that I felt could be carry-overs. I’m so happy this appealled to you as well – I know your constantly on the hunt for new Cosy Mysteries – as we share that in common,… you’ll have to let me know what you think if you grab one of these next!

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