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Dead Center (Andy Carpenter Series #5)

Dead Center (Andy Carpenter Series #5)

4.2 30
by David Rosenfelt

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2007 Audie® Award Finalist - Mystery

If there aren't any real-life lawyers as entertaining, as witty and as willing to tilt at windmills as Andy Carpenter, Edgar-finalist Rosenfelt's engaging series hero, then there should be. Carpenter, the Paterson, N.J., lawyer, whose wealth allows him to work as seldom as he chooses, is recovering from the loss of


2007 Audie® Award Finalist - Mystery

If there aren't any real-life lawyers as entertaining, as witty and as willing to tilt at windmills as Andy Carpenter, Edgar-finalist Rosenfelt's engaging series hero, then there should be. Carpenter, the Paterson, N.J., lawyer, whose wealth allows him to work as seldom as he chooses, is recovering from the loss of the love of his life, Laurie Collins, who has moved home to Findlay, Wis., to become the acting chief of police. When Laurie calls Andy for help after arresting 21-year-old Jeremy Davidson for murders that she thinks he didn't commit, Andy can't resist heading off to Findlay with his faithful dog, Tara. There's damning evidence against Jeremy, accused of killing two young women, one of whom he was romantically involved with. Andy is forced to pry into the closed society of Center City, home of the victims and a peculiar religious sect called the Centurions.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Even if Rosenfelt's novels about multimillionaire New Jersey defense attorney Andy Carpenter didn't hit all the right mystery novel notes, the intimacy of their hero's breezy, subjective, present-tense narration would make them ideal subjects for audio adaptation. Adding to the ear appeal of book five in the series is reader Gardner, an inspired match for the amusingly self-deprecating, sarcastic, animal-loving, freewheeling, wisecracking, wily lawyer. The inventive story finds Carpenter being lured by a recently lost love to the snow- and sausage-filled wilds of Wisconsin. There, accompanied by his faithful golden retriever, Tara, he reluctantly agrees to defend a 21-year-old local against overwhelming evidence that he savagely murdered two young women from a nearby hamlet inhabited exclusively by members of a religious cult. Using a voice and sensibility reminiscent of Nathan Lane (complete with verbal eye-rolls), Gardner smartly unfolds Rosenfelt's yarn, in which Carpenter is at his hilarious best-a Jersey boy out of his element in the frosty Midwest, motor-mouthing about having to put up with bone-chilling cold, unfamiliar food, a half-rekindled romance, an impossible defense and a possibly homicidal cult. Simultaneous release with the Mysterious Press hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 20). (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
New Jersey-based defense attorney Andy Carpenter is having a hard time forgetting his former lover Laurie Collins. Four months earlier, Laurie returned to her hometown of Findley, WI, where she has become the acting chief of police. Now, making matters worse (or better, perhaps), Laurie calls asking for his help with a murder case. She has arrested a young man for the stabbing deaths of two girls but believes he may be innocent. The victims were both from nearby Center City, a secretive community controlled by a bizarre cult. As Andy prepares to defend the accused by trying to find the real killer, one of his assistants is murdered. And then, a material witness, the ex-boyfriend of one of the victims, is found hanged. In his fifth Andy Carpenter novel, Rosenfelt (Sudden Death) tells a fast-paced story that's hard to put down, a mystery spiced with interesting characters and brightened by the flames of a rekindled love affair. Recommended for all mystery collections.-Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Only true love, not a murder case, could lure attorney Andy Carpenter (Sudden Death, 2005, etc.) from his beloved Paterson, N.J., to the frozen north. Acting Chief Laurie Collins, who fled Paterson for her childhood home of Findlay, Wisc., is holding Jeremy Davidson for killing of two coeds. The official story is that Jeremy stabbed Elizabeth Barlow because she broke up with him, and her friend Sheryl Hendricks because she happened to be on the scene. But even Laurie doesn't believe the official story, and she wants her ex-lover to drop everything and defend him. The case is a mess. No sooner does Andy, second-chaired by one-legged local counselor Calvin Marshall, get in a few good licks at District Attorney Lester Chapman than the finger points toward a neighboring religious community called Center City, followed by a sudden tsunami of suspicion cast on Elizabeth's ex-boyfriend, Eddie Carson, and Eddie's convenient suicide. Or is it murder? Either way, Jeremy's soon off the hook, and although Andy vows to stay local till the bitter end, the febrile suspicions of Eddie, the Centurions of Center City and a drug-smuggling operation don't generate much mystery or suspense. Andy and Laurie eventually come to an accord about their relationship, which upstages a case starved for suspects, clues and twists. This is the most disappointing of ebullient Andy's five cases to date.

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Andy Carpenter Series , #5
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Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Dead Center

By David Rosenfelt


Copyright © 2006 David Rosenfelt
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-892-96002-7

Chapter One

DO YOU GET SPIRITUAL credit for celibacy if it's involuntary?

This is the type of profound question I've asked myself a number of times during the last four and a half months. This is the first time I've asked it out loud, which may say something about my timing, since the person hearing it is my first date in all that time.

Actually, "date" may be overstating it. The quite beautiful woman that I am with is Rita Gordon, who when she's not dressed in a black silk dress with an exceptional cleavage staring straight at me, spends her days as the chief court clerk in Paterson, New Jersey. Rita and I have become fairly good friends over the last few years. No small accomplishment, since her daily job is basically to ward off demanding and obnoxious lawyers like me.

We're in one of North Jersey's classier restaurants, which was her choice entirely. I have absolutely no understanding why certain restaurants succeed and others don't. This one is ridiculously expensive, the menu is totally in French and impossible to understand, the portions are so small that parakeets would be asking for seconds, and the service is mediocre. With all that, we had to wait two weeks to get a reservation on a Thursday night.

The extent of my relationship with Rita until now has basically been toengage in sexual banter, an area in which her talents far exceed mine. She has always presented herself as an expert in dating, sex, and everything else that might take place between a man and a woman, and has volunteered to go with me on this "practice date" as a way to impart some of that knowledge to me.

I can use it, as evidenced by my celibacy question.

"There's an example of something you might want to avoid asking a date," says Rita. "Celibacy can be a bit of a sexual turnoff."

I nod. "Makes sense."

"On the other hand, swearing off sex increases your dating possibilities, since you could also go out with guys."

I shake my head. "Finding dates is not my problem; there are plenty of women that seem to be available. The problem is my lack of interest. It's the ironic opposite of high school."

Rita looks me straight in the eye, though that doesn't represent a change. She's been looking me straight in the eye since we sat down. She takes eye contact to a new level; it's like she's got X-ray vision and is looking through to my brain. I've never been an eye-contacter myself, and I almost want to create a diversion so she'll look away. Something small, like a fire in the kitchen or another patron fainting headfirst into his asparagus bisque.

"How long has Laurie been gone?" she asks.

I must be healing emotionally, since it's only recently that a question like that doesn't hit me like a knife in the chest. Laurie Collins was my private investigator and love of my life. She left to return to her hometown of Findlay, Wisconsin, where she will probably fulfill her dream and become chief of police. I had always wanted her dream to be a lifetime spent with me, Andy Carpenter.

"Four and a half months."

She nods wisely. "That explains why women are coming after you. They figure you've had enough time to get back into circulation, to get your transition woman behind you."

"Transition woman?"

She nods. "The first woman a guy has a relationship with after a serious relationship ends. It never works out; the guy's not ready. So women wait until they figure the guy's had his transition and he's ready to get serious again. The timing is tricky, because if she waits too long, the guy could be gone."

I give this some thought, but the concept doesn't seem to fit my situation, so I shake my head. "Laurie was the first woman I went out with after my marriage broke up. And she transitioned me; I didn't transition her."

"Have you spoken to her since she left?"

Another head shake from me. "She sent me a letter, but I didn't open it." This is not a subject I want to be discussing, so I try to change it. "So give me some advice."

"Okay," she says, leaning forward so that her chin hovers over her creme brulee. "Call Laurie."

"I meant dating advice."

She nods. "Okay. Don't do it until you're ready. And when you do, just relax and be yourself."

I shift around in my chair; the subject and the eye contact are combining to make me very uncomfortable. "That's what I did with Laurie. I was relaxed and myself ... right up until the day she dumped my relaxed self."

For some reason, on the rare occasions when I talk about my breakup with Laurie, I emphasize the "dumping" without getting into the reasons. The truth is that Laurie had an opportunity to fulfill a lifetime ambition and at the same time go back to the hometown to which she has always felt connected. She swore that she loved me and pretty much begged me to go with her, but I wanted to be here, and she wanted to be there.

"You've got to move on, Andy. It's time ..." Then the realization hits her, and she puts down her wineglass. "My God, you haven't had sex in four and a half months?"

It's painful for me to listen to this, partially because it's true, but mostly because the waitress has just come over and heard it as well.

I turn to the waitress. "She meant days ... I haven't had sex in four and a half days. Which for me is a really long time."

The waitress just shrugs her disinterest. "I'm afraid I can't help you with that. More coffee?"

She pours our coffee for us and departs. "Sorry about that, Andy," Rita says. "But four and a half months?"

I nod. "And I have no interest. The other day I found myself in the supermarket looking at the cover of Good Housekeeping instead of Cosmo."

"Pardon the expression," she asks, "but you want me to straighten you out?"

The question stuns me. She seems to be suggesting that we have sex, but I'm not sure, since I can count the number of times women have propositioned me in this manner on no fingers. "You mean ... you and me?"

She looks at her watch and shrugs. "Why not? It's still early."

"I appreciate the offer, Rita, but I'm just not ready. I guess I need sex to be more meaningful. Sex without love is just not what I'm looking for anymore; those days are behind me." These are the words that form in my mind but don't actually come out through my mouth.

What my mouth winds up saying is, "Absolutely." And then, "Check, please."


Excerpted from Dead Center by David Rosenfelt Copyright © 2006 by David Rosenfelt. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

DAVID ROSENFELT was the marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. His debut novel, OPEN AND SHUT, won Edgar and Shamus award nominations. FIRST DEGREE, his second novel, was a Publishers Weekly selection for one of the top mysteries of the year, and BURY THE LEAD was chosen as a Today Show Book Club pick.

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