Ever since defense attorney Andy Carpenter came into millions of dollars, he no longer has to work, but every now and then he just can’t help himself. This time he jumps back into the legal fray because one of his old clients is rotting away in prison for a double murder Andy is certain the man didn’t commit. Nine years earlier, Richard Solano and his wife Karen were found shot to death in their home, and all the clues led to Joey Desimone, Andy’s hapless client. Joey claims he was fingered because he was having an affair with Karen and that he was upset be- cause she’d dumped him. Also, Joey tells Andy, the cops wanted him put away simply because he was the son of Carmine Desimone, the head of a powerful New Jersey crime family. Andy promises to reopen the case, but soon regrets it.
His investigation sets off a chain of events that begins with the murder of Joey’s senile uncle Nicky Fats—another mobster—and ends with a crime so horrific and large in scope that in comparison, it makes the mobsters look like squabbling toddlers.
The Andy Carpenter series (Leader of the Pack is the tenth book) has been highly successful for many reasons. First, because Andy himself is a likeable protagonist: witty, self-effacing, idealistic, and warm-hearted. Secondly, his longtime companion Laurie, a no-nonsense ex-cop, is the perfect foil for the often scatter-brained attorney. But the real reason this series is so popular is probably because of Tara, a golden retriever Andy loves so much that he has set up a rescue foundation in her name.
Coincidentally (or maybe not), the author himself runs such a foundation and is at present living with 27 rescued golden retrievers. Tara and her furry friends pop up every now and then in Leader of the Pack (I can’t get enough of them myself), but this thrilling, high-octane novel is more about the coldness of evil than about the love in a golden retriever’s eyes.