The Most Excellent Andy Carpenter Mystery Series by David Rosenfelt

Pin It

A Laugh-Out-Loud Mystery Series

Meet Andy Carpenter, Attorney-at-law (Occasionally)

If you haven’t yet met him, let me introduce you to Andy Carpenter. I am certain you will want to get to know him once you do. If you’ve read even one of his series, you will remember him. Most of us would like to hang out with him one afternoon, watching a game of course. Andy is David Rosenfelt’s reticent attorney in a wonderfully entertaining mystery series that begins with Open and Shut.

Andy isn’t exactly your typical hero.  He is no Mitch Rapp or Jack Reacher. He is not ex-military, ex-CIA, ex-sniper. Actually, he prefers to let others, including his girlfriend Laurie–the ones with guns or expert training–take on the bad guy.

But he is a hero in his own way. Not only does he love and provide for rescue dogs, he also takes on murder cases. Every once in awhile. If he has to. If Laurie insists. Ever since he inherited twenty million, he hasn’t really been  in the mood to accept new cases.

His sarcasm, his humor directed at himself especially, and his unusual associates will keep you laughing.  The importance that his golden retriever, Tara, must be mentioned as well.  Throughout the series,  she is there for Andy, not to mention several other dogs that visit when they become his clients.

David Rosenfelt has written a great series starring Andy. It’s a light, low key suspense when you want a fun read that will entertain you. There is even courtroom drama, which usually means Andy is in some sort of trouble with the judge. If you like mysteries and are in the mood for a story that will lift your spirits while you read, pick any one of these!

Open and Shut – the first in the series, published in 2002

The first entry in the series is one of my favorites. It was very entertaining reading Andy’s history, and how he got quite rich. This book received nominations for both the Edgar and Shamus awards!  Not bad for an author’s first novel.

Soon after his father asks Andy to handle an appeals case for a man he helped put in prison 7 years ago, Andy’s father dies. Andy’s shock is not only over the loss of his father. It’s also over the  $22 million he inherits.  Money he had no idea his father had.

While trying to figure out where that money came from, he gets involved in an old murder case that may include his own father, the former District Attorney. Then the two cases begin to overlap…

Click here to  read my review of Open and Shut.

Book or Audiobook, both are excellent.

Grover Gardner Narrates–He IS the Voice of Andy

If you get a chance to listen to any of the series on audio, do!  The audio version of this series is fantastic with Grover Gardner narrating. He captures  Andy perfectly, especially his sense of humor.  There aren’t too man narrators who fit a character as well as Mr. Gardner portraying Mr. Carpenter.I got my first book in the series in the audio version, and once again was delighted I did.

As Andy, he is habit forming.  If you check out the reviews on Audible, you will see both the author and the narrator are loved. Or perhaps I should say Andy is loved through their efforts.He has fans!  And I am definitely one of them. Those of us who follow him are quite loyal! The book version is also very popular. You can imagine how he would speak yourself that way. Either way, I wish you would give one a try.

Mr. Rosenfelt must have the best sense of humor. The way he writes has me laughing out loud so often that people are starting to stare at me!  I’ve listed them in order below, trying to give you a brief summary without giving away the story. Trust me, they are worth the read.

First Degree – 2nd in the series,  2003

A stranger walks in to Andy’s office, confessing to the recent brutal murder of a policeman. Andy, being Andy, doesn’t really want the case.

But when his investigator and girlfriend, Laurie, is arrested for the murder, Andy has no choice but to find out the truth to free her.  Sorting through clues when the police themselves are included in an investigation won’t be easy for Andy.  They distrust him already.  Yet they have always trusted Laurie.

Another legal thriller that proved very satisfying to his fans.  Another choice I would suggest in Audio.

Bury the Lead – Number 3,  2004

When his friend Vince asks Andy to represent a respected reporter on his staff he agrees to do it for his friend.

A serial killer has been contacting the reporter, and the reporter is doing his best to help the police. But then the reporter is arrested for the murders, and Andy, who is never anxious for a case, isn’t sure his client isn’t guilty.

Once again his investigation puts him in the line of fire, this time from several different directions. It will take the whole team to keep him safe and find the killer.

The Team: His Associates

The regulars in his books include Tara, his rescued golden retriever, Laurie, his girlfriend, his intimidating investigator and effective bodyguard, Marcus, and secretary, Edna, who shows up when necessary, usually doing crosswords. Then there is his assistant attorney, and his accountant.

Outside the office, there is Willie, his partner in the animal shelter set up in Tara’s name. Then of course a policeman and newsman who pop in regularly for a meal or some help. Sometimes characters from earlier books will make an appearance too. And of course, there are the visiting dogs, some that stay with Andy and Tara, some that just pass by.

I allowed myself the pleasure of re-listening to most of the series as I was working on this article. I smile nearly the whole time. Some are funnier than others, some silly, some snarky, but all so entertaining.

Sudden Death – 4th in the series, 2005 

This time Andy is reluctantly defending a well known NY football player who is found in his home with a gun in hand, and a fellow player dead in his closet.

The evidence looks overwhelming. Sounds pretty guilty, doesn’t he? But he swears he didn’t do it.

While Andy investigates, he is pursued by a criminal element, but are they actually involved? Or could it be someone closer to the team?

Dead Center – Number 5,  2006

Andy’s girlfriend, Laurie has moved back to her home town in Wisconsin as acting chief of police, leaving Andy pining for her.

When a 21 year old man is arrested for murder, Laurie asks Andy to come there to defend him. Of course, he agrees. How could be pass up a chance to see Laurie?

He and Tara arrive to a town that holds secrets, especially in a religious sect there. It’s up to Andy to prove all the evidence against his client does not mean he is guilty.


“Rosenfelt very well could be the funniest American author alive today. He’s charming, likable, self-deprecating, self-aware and utterly hysterical.”

Associated Press


Play Dead – #6 in the series, 2007

Here’s another hard-to-resist addition to the series. Andy client this time?  A golden retriever.

Thankfully the attorney successfully gains a literal stay of execution for his client.

Then he learns that the dog is an important part of a murder investigation. One for which his owner was convicted of several years before.

Naturally Andy must come to the rescue. Will he succeed?

Click here to read my full review of Play Dead.

New Tricks – Number 7, 2009

A young Bernese Mountain dog needs an attorney at the start of this book, with Andy assigned custody until he decides whether the step mother or the son should get possession of the dog.

No sooner does Andy pick up the dog, when the stepmother’s home is blown up, killing her.

Soon Andy is defending the stepson, arrested for murder.

But when there are several attempts on the young dog’s life, Andy is more determined than ever to figure out the truth.

Should You Read The Series In Order?

You can start anywhere, but…But I bet you’ll want to go back to the beginning. This particular series is a very good one to read in order. Each is stand alone, and can be enjoyed without the series background. However, the first one (Open and Shut) sets the stage for the future tales and it’s such fun to get to know them as you go along.I started with one that was midway through the series. Soon as I finished it, I went back to the beginning and listened to them all in order.

You build a relationship with the characters as you get to know them, so I encourage reading more than one of them! Honestly, Andy is so funny, most often laughing at himself. I fell in love with him.

Dog Tags – 8th in the series,  2010

This is a favorite! Honestly, I smiled or chuckled nearly the whole way through. Andy is definitely his spectacular, sarcastic self in this one.Once again, he agrees to represent a dog. This one being held under guard 24/7. The dog’s owner, a thief, is being held too–for murder.

Between mysterious people trying to kidnap the dog, the fat envelope the dog has hidden, and Andy giving in to representing the thief, it keeps you turning the pages.  You’ll smile as you do. It’s so much fun!

This is definitely one to re-read.

One Dog Night – Number 9, 2011

When a man is arrested for a horrific crime that killed 26 people, all he wants is to plead guilty and pay for the crime he committed while on drugs.

In an unusual twist, it’s Andy Carpenter who thinks his client may be wrong! He may actually be innocent.

People are dying even while his client is in prison, but will Andy be able to prove it in time?

More about David Rosenfelt 

Including a real Tara Foundation 

I was surprised to read that Mr. Rosenfelt actually has established the Tara Foundation, named after his own Tara. He’s written more about how he got there in a non-fiction book called Dog Tripping. It recounts his trip from California to Maine in an RV with his wife and 25 dogs, and a few helpers somewhere in there too.He has also published several other suspense novels outside the Andy Carpenter series.  The first book in Andy’s series, Open and Shut was a finalist for both the Edgar and Shamus Award for a first novel.

Leader of the Pack – #10 in the series,  2012

Andy doesn’t take on many clients to begin with, and he certainly not unless he believes he’ll win the case.

Andy visits one of the few he’s lost—in jail, and is asked to take Tara to visit the client’s old uncle. When he does, Andy learns something that may prove his client innocent, and give cause for a new trial.

But, as if often the case, when he starts investigating, people start dying. And this time organized crime may be doing the killing.

Unleashed – Number 11,  2013

This book brings Andy’s accountant, Sam Willis, front and center. On the way to help an old friend, he stops to rescue a dog.

With the delay, the friend takes off on his private plane without him, and soon crashes. Almost immediately, Sam is being arrested for his murder.Andy knows Sam is innocent.

It’s up to Andy to discover who and why someone has set Sam up for murder.

Hounded – 12th in Andy’s Series, 2014

In Book 12 of the series, Detective Pete Stanton, Andy’s good friend–one of few on the police force,  finds himself accused of murder.

Naturally Andy and his team will take the case. With this particular case comes a 4 year old boy, the son of the murdered man, and the boy’s  basset hound.  Is it possible the little boy is a witness?

Andy agrees to protect the little boy as his attorney at the same time as he represents Pete for murder.  This one could change Andy’s life forever.

Click here to read my review of Hounded.

 Who Let the Dog Out?  Book 13,  2015

Book 14 was release July 21, 2015.  It was a definite pre-order.  I even love the cover.

Andy receives a late night call that the Tara Foundation has had a break in.  He arrives to find one of their recent rescues, a dog named Cheyenne, has been stolen.

They trace the dog, only to find her standing over a dead body.

Protecting the dog is of the utmost importance to Andy, so he begins an investigation to learn what’s behind it.  Then he takes the case to defend the man that has been arrested for the murder.  The more he discovers, the more he realizes the murder is only a small part of a much bigger plot, one that could cost the lives of thousands.

Outfoxed, Book 14, 2016

The latest release finds Andy and the Tara Foundation in a program that connects dogs to prisoners for training purposes.  One particular prisoner, Brian, has been working well with Boomer.

With little time left on his sentence, all are shocked when Brian uses Boomer to escape.  Within twenty-four hours, the escapee is re-arrested.  For murder this time.

Andy will represent him, but before long he realizes he is up against a crime lord he has had dealing with in the past.  Factor that into his murder investigation and it means big trouble for the attorney.   This time Andy will have to bring him down–unless he gets killed first.

Once again you see the extremes Attorney Carpenter will go to in order to help a dog.  That makes it totally worthwhile, doesn’t it?

You can read my full review here on Mystery Suspense Reviews.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, Book 15, 2016

Pups (aka Martha Boyer) rescues puppies.   So many over the years, she has become the go-to person when puppies are brought to the shelter.  Since the shelter is unable, Pups takes them in to feed and care for until homes are found for them. Everyone loves her and appreciates her efforts.

Until one neighbor complains, citing the ordinance that allows only 3 pets per residence. Recalcitrant attorney, Andy Carpenter is so ready to represent her in that case.

Alas, it becomes a murder trial when that neighbor turns up dead.  Pups is the first and last suspect.  Andy knows she is innocent, but as the charges mount, can he prove reasonable doubt before it is too late? Why would anyone want to frame Pups?  What could an estranged son and a senator caught in a compromising situation possibly have in common?  Those are only two of the leads that turn up in the investigation.

Andy always seem to get involved in cases that go much deeper than a simple murder.  From gangs or mafia types to terrorists, the reader never knows what is might be at stake.  Will Andy—and his team–survive this round?  Don’t miss it!

Here’s a quick list in order – In case you want to take it with you

  1. Open and Shut, 2002
  2. First Degree, 2003
  3. Bury the Lead, 2004
  4. Sudden Death, 2005
  5. Dead Center, 2006
  6. Play Dead, 2007
  7. New Tricks, 2009
  8. Dog Tags, 2010
  9. One Dog Night, 2011
  10. Leader of the Pack, 2012
  11. Unleashed, 2013
  12. Hounded, July 2014
  13. Who Let the Dog Out?  July 2015
  14. Outfoxed, July 2016
  15. The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, October 2016
  16. Collared

Coming Soon….July 2017

Golden Retriever, Tara

In May of 2014, Mr. Rosenfelt’s eleventh book in the series, “Unleashed,” won an Audie award for best mystery. So glad to see the author, the book, and the narrator receive it. Well earned!

If you love dogs, you will love these books. Andy loves dogs so much that he opens his own shelter. Tara, his golden retriever has a lead supporting role in each of his books, but you’ll be pleased to meet the guest dogs that appear in most of his books. Later in the series, he even takes on a few as his clients. They definitely have a high priority to Andy.

They are equally important to the author as is clear from his foundation. Even today he can usually be found surrounded by twenty or more dogs.

If you want to read more about the love of audiobooks, check out Hooked on Audiobooks.  Some books are even better when read by someone else.


Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Mystery Suspense Reviews .

Author: merry

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment