In ONE DOG NIGHT smart-alecky defense attorney Andy Carpenter quits championing dogs in court long enough to defend a human client for once, even if it's a client with whom Andy has a canine connection. ONE DOG NIGHT demonstrates that coincidence doesn't only happen in Bollywood cinema. Noah Galloway is the man what started the ruin of Andy Carpenter's marriage. Some years ago, drug-addled Noah Galloway attempted to break into Andy's house, and Andy's gone-ballistic wife was quick to blame this on Andy's profession. This argument was the first crack in their wedded bliss. Andy Carpenter's divorced now.
Andy is independently wealthy and would rather while his time away not trying cases. He'd rather spend resources on his dog rescue group, the Tara Foundation. But it'd make for a hell of a dull narrative, and so here's Noah Galloway again, now a recovered drug addict but now arrested for 26 counts of murder committed six years ago. Noah Galloway believes he's guilty, is resigned to paying for his heinous crime. Except Andy learns that Noah was his golden retriever Tara's previous owner and he visits Noah's cell out of curiousity, and, Bob's your uncle, he's become Noah's defense attorney. His lazy secretary, Edna, is pretty cheesed at this development. She hates making coffee or copies or answering phones or doing pretty much anything secretarial.
Despite Noah Galloway's fatalistic attitude, Andy sniffs something odd about the case and it's not too long before he begins questioning his client's self-confessed guilt. The evidence simply doesn't add up. Author David Rosenfelt presses on with his recent habit of alternating chapters between Andy's first person perspective with those focused on the doings of other characters, and mostly villains. The story is well-plotted and nothing ratches up the tension more than prospective witnesses getting bumped off left and right. There's an immediate sense of stakes that go higher even than the burning down of an apartment building and the deliberate chaining of the doors so that the residents are trapped within. Rosenfelt doles out generous helpings of political backstabbing, a dangerous hush up, ruthless blackmail, and a murder spree. All those on top of the expected courtroom hijinks that Andy - Paterson, New Jersey's most snarky defense attorney - so gleefully engages in.
Rosenfelt again trots out his cast of interesting characters, and a more quirky, disparate bunch of folks it'll be hard to find: the intimidating, fridge-raiding private eye Marcus Clark; Andy's germophobic law partner Hike; hacker extraordinaire, Sam Willis, who thinks he's ready for field work; the work-shirking Edna, the love of Andy's life and his lead private investigator Laurie Collins; Andy's cop buddy Pete who has a personal stake in the case; and, of course, the glorious Tara. And, as a cherry on top, Rosenfelt introduces a classroom of senior citizen hackers. They don't mind helping out on Andy's case, but they have to be in bed by 8pm.
Touting a "defective courage gene," Andy only very reluctantly goes out into the field. Still, credit our cowardly - but I call it "sensible" - hero. He manages to brave a drug lord's nest and brace not one, but two mafia dons. And, as ever, he won't hesitate to fire off a sassy remark to anyone, anyone at all, and his observations are laugh out loud funny. There's a sweetness in how much Andy risks to defend his client, and mostly because he and his client are linked by their love for Tara the glorious golden retriever. ONE DOG NIGHT being a legal thriller and those alternating chapters pretty much clueing us in as to what shady shenanigans are going down, there isn't much of a suspenseful mystery element, really. The fun is in tracking our likable, well-oiled team as they chase each random clue and piece the puzzle together. There's some asskicking action, brought to you by the indomitable Marcus Clark who, let it be said again, will with no invitation straightaway make a beeline for your refrigerator. And for those anticipating a twist or two, maybe the biggest one - for me, anyway - is that just when you thought you'd tapped the centerpiece villain, damn if another sinister bloke doesn't surface to fit the bill. Even though certain plot elements are starting to read too familiar, ONE DOG NIGHT is another involving thriller. Andy Carpenter is righteous and he made me laugh again. And Tara, as ever, is glorious.