Book Review: Muzzled by David Rosenfelt

Muzzled by David Rosenfelt is the 21st book in the Andy Carpenter series, where the semi-retired lawyer takes on the case of a supposed dead man who returns looking for his dog only to be charged with blowing up the boat he allegedly died on.

Andy Carpenter is, first and foremost, a dog lover. If he had his way, most of his time would be spent at the Tara Foundation, named after his own beloved golden retriever, helping to look after the rescue dogs housed there. When an acquaintance he knows through their mutual pet rescue efforts calls one day asking for help, he assumes it has to do with a dog. He’s partly right—and wholly disappointed when he discovers that Beth Morris has called him primarily because he’s a criminal defense attorney.

Most of the time, Andy would like to pretend that he isn’t a lawyer, often claiming retirement to those around him. His wife, Laurie, who also happens to be his law firm’s lead investigator, has an entirely different perspective.

“Our differences are semantic,” she says. “You consider yourself retired; I see it as semi-retired. I think you should come around to my point of view; that way you avoid disappointment.”


“How is that?”


“Well, if you’re retired, then taking a case blows the whole thing out of the water. But if you’re semi-retired, then it fits right in. You won’t feel like you failed at retirement. You’ll be a success at semi-retirement.”


“I’m guessing you think I should take the case.”


“I already know you’re going to take it,” she says. “I’m being supportive of your decision.”

The case in question arises from a request Beth received to reunite a dog currently being housed at the Tara Foundation with its rightful owner. Trouble is said rightful owner, Alex Vogel, was thought to have died when his boat exploded off the New Jersey shore several weeks ago. The authorities are considering it a multiple homicide, as two corpses were seen aboard by witnesses shortly before the explosion. Everyone had assumed that Alex was one of them until he unexpectedly turned up looking for his dog.

Understanding his legal duty, Andy informs his friend Captain Pete Stanton of the Paterson Police Department’s Homicide Division of Alex’s reappearance, but he’s so moved by Alex’s reunion with his dog that he can’t help but want to defend Alex when he is accused of murdering the men on the boat. Alex does look awfully guilty, having taken off and laid low after the incident, in addition to having a background in explosives. But he swears he’s innocent, believing himself the target of a calculated hit.

Knowing that offering up an alternative killer is pretty much their only defense for this homicide case, Andy and his team get to work. Locating a suspect brings up another dilemma for Andy, Laurie, and another investigator, Corey:

“I see two choices,” Laurie says. “One is we go to the police and tell them who we believe he is. Two is we watch him, see what he does, and hopefully get some insight as to what is going on.”


I shake my head. “There is no choice to be made. Number two is our only option.”


“Why?” Corey asks. He and Laurie, as ex-cops, usually lean towards bringing them in.


“Because our job is not to cleanse the world of bad guys. Our job is to defend our client. If the FBI comes in and takes [the suspect] off to prison, or turns him over to Interpol, or even just alerts him that we know about him, then we gain nothing and our client loses everything.”

As always, Andy’s defense of his client is a thing of beauty, even if things go decidedly awry in the process. I literally gasped at one of the larger, more tragic twists in this novel. The plotting is terrific, as is David Rosenfelt’s trademark sense of humor. I can’t believe that this is the 21st novel in the series and still of such a consistently high quality of readability. Each book is so engrossing and so much fun to read. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one!

Check out Doreen Sheridan’s review of the 20th Andy Carpenter novel, Dachshund Through the Snow!

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