Outfoxed by David Rosenfelt is the 14th book in the Andy Carpenter series (Available July 19, 2016).
Defense lawyer Andy Carpenter spends as much time as he can working on his true passion, the Tara Foundation, the dog rescue organization he runs. Lately, Andy has been especially involved in a county prison program where inmates help train dogs the Tara Foundation has rescued to make them more adoptable, benefiting both the dogs and the prisoners. One of the prisoners Andy has been working with is Brian Atkins, who has 18 months left on a 5-year term for fraud. Brian has been helping to train Boomer, an adorable fox terrier the Tara Foundation rescued from a neglectful owner. Brian and Boomer are clearly a terrific match. In fact, Andy hopes that Brian will adopt Boomer himself, once his sentence is up. But one day, Andy arrives at the prison to discover that Brian has used Boomer to make an ingenious escape, and man and dog are both in the wind. The next day, the man on whose testimony Brian was convicted is found murdered. Brian is caught and arrested for the crime, though he forcefully protests his innocence. Suddenly, Andy finds himself with a new client in Brian and a new dog in Boomer. And as he starts to dig deeper into the murder and the events leading up to it, Andy realizes he might be putting them all in far more danger than anyone had realized.
I’ve been enjoying work lately. I’d have to check my diary, but I think the last time I said that was never. Of course, the last time I wrote in a diary was also never, but that’s another story.
My change in job satisfaction is probably because I’m doing very different work these days. I’m a defense attorney, have been my whole life, but lately I’ve been successful in not taking on new clients, leaving me no one to defend. I like it that way; trials can be very trying.
I wouldn’t say that I’ve retired, it’s more like taking a year off, much in the way a baseball pitcher does when he blows out his elbow. I like to say that I haven’t had “Tommy John surgery,” it’s more like “F. Lee Bailey surgery.”
My current work involves dogs, which are pretty much my favorite things, living or otherwise, on the planet. My partner, Willie Miller, and I run the Tara Foundation, a dog rescue group in Haledon, New Jersey, that covers Paterson and surrounding communities.
I’ve been spending a great deal of time helping Willie and his wife, Sondra, handle the day-to-day activities of the foundation, work that I couldn’t do as a practicing lawyer, especially during trials. The days are enjoyable and rewarding, no more than when I watch a dog go to his or her new home with a terrific family.
And, best of all, I don’t have to cringe and wait for a jury to decide whether I did well or not. All I need to see is a wagging tail.
I’m also heading up a program called Prison Pals. Passaic County has followed the lead of a number of other communities around the country in bringing rescue dogs in need of training and socialization into prisons to be trained by the inmates.
It’s a win-win: the dogs get needed training and loving care, and the prisoners get the chance to interact and bond with some really great dogs.
Because I have a familiarity with the prison and criminal justice systems, and because I corun a dog rescue foundation, I was the county’s choice to run this program, and I was glad to accept. I am Andy Carpenter, spreader of human and canine happiness everywhere. And the truth is that I’ve enjoyed every second of it.
One of the inmates working in the program is Brian Atkins, who is also a client. His lawyer had been Nathan Cantwell, a legend in New Jersey legal circles for sixty years. I had dinner with Nathan a couple of years ago and he told me that he would never retire, that even though at that point he didn’t have many clients, the only way he would quit working would be by dying.
And dying is exactly what he did, three days later, at the age of eighty-seven. He had neglected to mention at the dinner that his will included a request for me to watch over his clients. Had he mentioned it, I would have pleaded for him to reconsider.
But Brian, at least, has been an easy client. He has served three years of a five-year term after being convicted of embezzlement and fraud, the victim being the software company that he cofounded. He’s in the minimum-security area of East Jersey State Prison, and he will be up for parole in four months. I have it on good authority that he’ll be granted that parole.
Today I’m bringing dogs and trainers to the prison, including the dog that Brian has been working with, an adorable fox terrier named Boomer. He clearly loves Boomer, and in a way it’s a shame that Boomer is almost done with the program and will be finding a permanent home. If the timing had been just a little different, he could have been Brian’s dog when he gets out. I really like Brian, so I’m looking forward to this conversation.
“Fred will be coming in, but I wanted to talk to you first,” I say, referring to Fred Cummings, the trainer who has been working with Brian and Boomer.
“So you’re not staying while Fred is here?” he asks, petting Boomer the whole time.
It seems like an odd question, but I say, “No, I’m meeting Laurie for lunch, and then we’ve got a parent-teacher meeting at the school. I just wanted to tell you that I’ve been pretty much assured you’ll be getting your parole. You’ll be out in no more than four months.”
He nods. “Good. Thanks.”
It seems like a strangely muted, unenthusiastic response, but my guess is he is just in “I’ll believe it when I see it” mode.
“You okay?” I ask.
“I’m fine, Andy. Thanks.”
“The parole hearing itself will be in three months, but it’s basically a formality. We’ll have time to prepare.”
“Okay … I understand.”
I’m not sensing any excitement here. “Any questions?” I ask.
“No. Thanks again.”
Copyright © 2016 David Rosenfelt.
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David Rosenfelt is the Edgar-nominated and Shamus Award-winning author of several stand-alones and a dozen Andy Carpenter novels, including Who Let the Dog Out?. After years living in California, he and his wife moved to Maine with twenty-five golden retrievers that they’ve rescued. Rosenfelt's hilarious account of this cross-country move, Dogtripping, and his moving memoir of the dog that inspired his love affair with dogs, Lessons from Tara, are published by St. Martin’s Press.