Muzzled is #21 of this stand-up comedy/mystery/dog-related legal procedural crime series. We have not read all of them, but it’s not a problem to follow the plots no matter which book you pick up.
Andy Carpenter, the main character, is a “semi-retired” criminal defense attorney in Paterson, New Jersey who hates to work, but keeps taking on new litigation anyway, albeit reluctantly. Usually a case comes to his attention because of some involvement of a dog. Andy, who came into a lot of money from a previous win in court, prefers spending time with his dog rescue foundation to doing legal work, or any work at all, for that matter.
This book begins when a luxury boat explodes off the coast of New Jersey, shortly after a passing vessel saw a dead body on the deck. The luxury boat was registered as having three passengers that day, all from a local pharmaceutical company. The men on board are presumed dead, but then one of them, Alex Vogel, shows up at Andy’s dog rescue foundation to claim his dog, positively identified as Alex’s by a chip. Alex tells Andy that two strangers had come on the boat, shot the other two passengers, and blew up the boat. Because Alex happened to be down below when they boarded, he was able to hide and then jump ship. Alex says he has been lying low because he overheard the two strangers say they were actually looking for him.
Andy agrees to help Alex, mainly because Alex’s dog seemed so happy to see Alex that Andy concluded Alex had to be a good person, and therefore was probably innocent. But the police aren’t so easily swayed, and they arrest Alex for the murder of his two colleagues.
As is typical in these books, more murders follow, as do implications of mob involvement, stock manipulation, and money laundering. The complications in this book weren’t as difficult for me to follow as they have been in the past, and Andy’s sense of humor is always welcome. Also typical is a resolution that isn’t happy for all involved, but seems more true to life because of it.
Evaluation: What could be more fun than Andy’s self-deprecating snarky commentary on everyone and everything? All of the author’s books in this series are quick reads and uniformly enjoyable.
Published by Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2020