Collared (Andy Carpenter, #16)by David Rosenfelt

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published July 18th 2017 by Minotaur Books
5 Stars

Synopsis: Lawyer Andy Carpenter’s true passion is the Tara Foundation, the dog rescue organization he runs with his friend Willie Miller. All kinds of dogs make their way to the foundation, and it isn’t that surprising to find a dog abandoned at the shelter one morning, though it was accompanied by a mysterious anonymous note. But they are quite surprised when they scan the dog’s embedded chip, and discover that they know this dog. He is the -DNA dog.-

Two and a half years ago, Jill Hickman was a single mother of an adopted baby. Her baby and dog were kidnapped in broad daylight in Eastside Park, and they haven’t been seen since. A tip came in that ID’d a former boyfriend of Hickman’s, Keith Wachtel, as the kidnapper. A search of his house showed no sign of the child but did uncover more incriminating evidence, and the clincher that generated Wachtel’s arrest was some dog hair, notable since Wachtel did not have a dog. DNA tests showed conclusively that the hair belonged to Hickman’s dog. Wachtel was convicted of kidnapping, but the dog and baby were never found.

Now, with the reappearance of the dog, the case is brought back to light, and the search for the child renewed. Goaded by his wife’s desire to help a friend and fellow mother and Andy’s desire to make sure the real kidnapper is in jail, Andy and his team enter the case. But what they start to uncover is far more complicated and dangerous than they ever expected.

My Review: This series is a lighter legal read than a legal thriller, more mystery but not quite a cozy. Regardless of that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Andy Carpenter is a reluctant defense lawyer, who was not even sure he wanted to renew his licence at the beginning of the book. His wife and partner in the dog rescue foundation convince him he should. When a border collie is left at the foundation with a cryptic note, the mystery begins. When the dog is checked for a micro-chip, they determine that it is the same dog that was stolen when a young adopted child was kidnapped, three years earlier. The ex-boyfriend of the adoptive mother was tried and sent to prison for the kidnapping and the child was never found. This tweaks Andy’s curiosity. His wife Laurie had befriended Jill when the crime was committed as she lived in their neighbourhood. If Cody, the dog, is still alive, what about Dylan. Andy goes to the prison to question Keith and ends up believing in his innocence. Can Andy get a new trial for Keith? Will they find Baby Dylan? Who left Cody at the foundation?

The usual characters are back with a few new additions to flesh out the story. Andy is the heart of the eccentric cast & narrates. His interactions with other characters & sly internal observations provide a lot of humour. Laurie is the steadying influence for Andy and keeps him in line. She makes sure he is safe and honest as well as keeping him protecting using Marcus. Marcus who has skills like a one man army, scares everyone and keeps Marcus safe from harm, because Laurie asks him to. Sam, Hike and the rest of the team are there working in the background to help Andy investigate and prepare his case. Rosenfelt does a great job with pacing in this clever plot with enough humour to keep you smiling. Not only do you want to find out the answer to the mystery, but you want to keep reading to spend more time with the characters. This is a story with plenty of mystery, suspense, wit, skill, and detective work. A definite must read for those that like a legal mystery with a little less violence and darkness to it. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.