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Home » Books & writing

Book Review: David Rosenfelt’s DOG TAGS

Submitted by on August 25, 2010 – 1:23 am 12 Comments

When you hear legal thriller, you probably think John Grisham or Scott Turow or Richard North Patterson and that’s all good. What I can’t figure out is why David Rosenfelt isn’t up there with those guys. His novels about Andy Carpenter, the dog-loving, independently wealthy defense attorney, are just as well-plotted and paced, if not better since those other authors can sometimes go unnecessarily long. Rosenfelt’s books are also funny and always feature amazing dogs.

The eighth installment in the series opens with Andy being asked to represent Milo, a German shepherd police dog re-purposed as a thief by his owner, ex-cop and Iraq war veteran, Billy Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s in jail accused of murder while Milo’s been put in a cage with, oddly enough, a 24-hour armed guard. Andy goes to court to argue for the dog’s release but soon finds himself taking on Zimmerman as a client as well.

Formerly a well respected cop, Zimmerman signed up for Iraq then lost a leg in a bombing. When he couldn’t get his police job back upon his return, Zimmerman became a thief, using Milo as his accomplice. The two get in trouble when their target for a gig ends up shot by an assassin right in front of them and Zimmerman is arrested for his murder. The case is further complicated by the fact the murder victim was Zimmerman’s Army superior. Though the prosecution theorizes that Zimmerman had a grudge against the man partly responsible for the loss of his leg, Andy discovers the real motives behind the killing are more sinister and involves people much more powerful than Zimmerman. Andy then has to decide between doing what’s best for his client and preventing a cataclysmic event from happening on U.S. soil.

Rosenfelt knows how to entertain, delivering thrills, laughs, heart and likable characters. He also knows how to comment on current affairs and the plight of our war veterans without getting on a soapbox. Zimmerman is a thief but also a man who, after defending his country, is failed by its healthcare system, the justice system and the police force on which he served before enlisting in the Army. But Zimmerman doesn’t feel sorry for himself; he turns out to be one of Andy’s best clients ever, making me want something to go right for him.

As in all Rosenfelt novels, the canine characters are as dynamic as the human ones. Milo has a heroic moment near the end that’s breathtaking and Andy’s golden retriever Tara remains cooler than cool. Andy gets an amusing new (human) law partner, Hike, who’s brilliant despite his pessimistic attitude about everything. I, on the other hand, am optimistic that you’ll enjoy this book and the entire Andy Carpenter series.

Nerd verdict: Clever Dog

Buy Dog Tags from Amazon| B&N| Powell’s| IndieBound



  • LolosLetters says:

    I’ve always loved this series and agree, can’t understand why it isn’t more popular. It’s one of the few books/series that I (Ms. Hardboiled) can share with my mother (Ms. Softboiled) and we both enjoy equally.

  • Naomi Johnson says:

    You’re right, this is a name I’m not familiar with. Our lives should be extended one week for every good book we read, then there might be time enough to read them all.

    • LolosLetters says:

      Sometimes I wish you ruled the world. In favor of Rosenfelt, they are very quick reads if you have any desire to give one a try. And this is a series that I would start from the first, though I assume others would say “who cares?” But there is a character progression.

  • Pop Culture Nerd says:

    Lolo—Besides my husband, in whose face I shoved these books, you’re the only person I know who’s read this series! You’re right about it being enjoyable for both soft- and hard-boiled mystery fans. There’s a high body count in this book so the bad guys definitely aren’t messing around but it’s not done in a gory way that would offend cozy fans.

    Naomi—I heartily second your proposition.

    • LolosLetters says:

      Wonder why? I don’t even recall how I discovered the series, though it might have been while waiting for my dog at the emergency clinic in KC a few years ago. There’s a good bookstore nearby. I try to pass along to my Mom anything she might like to save her some book $$ and she LOVED the series. It’s rare we both like something to the same degree.

      I would guess that perhaps the dog-centric theme and covers might put some people off? I know that I tend to shy away from anything with cats or baked goods on the front. But you hit it on the head, these are a great blend. Violence without the fun stuff. 🙂 I wouldn’t call them cozies at all. And great sense of humor + likeable characters. Do you think Namoi would like them? I sense Naomi might even be harder to please than I (and I don’t mean that in a bad way) on the non-hardboiled front, but I would still recommend them.

      Did your husband like?

      • Pop Culture Nerd says:

        Yes, husband likes. I heard about the series when the third book, Bury the Lead, was selected for the Today book club six years ago. I don’t even watch the show but happened to catch it that one day. I enjoyed the book so much I went back to read the other two and have read every new one since.

        Cutesy covers make me run away, too, but dogs didn’t start appearing on Rosenfelt’s covers until the 6th book so I don’t know why this series isn’t more popular. I don’t own a dog and am not a fan of cozies but I really enjoy these books. Hard call as to whether Naomi would like them. Some days I think I’m just as picky as she, others—maybe not.

        • LolosLetters says:

          Rosenfelt’s books are what I (lovingly) call “palate cleansers.” Having recently lost my favorite palate cleanser (Robert Parker), it’s always nice to have others. So maybe if Naomi likes palate cleansers these would be good. Of course, Naomi is probably so tough she cleanses her palate with Comet.

  • I remember you reviewing another of this series, PCN, and thinking at the time that I must put it on The List. Oh, yes, let me check ~ I did! It was New Tricks. {See, I really do keep The List. 😉 } But I worry that I might end up howling ~ I love animals so much and become terribly upset if anything happens to them, so I tend to avoid movies and books with animals just in case it ends badly. Maybe I’ll have to take that chance with this series ~ it does sound excellent.

  • Jessie says:

    I love dogs and I love mysteries. Why haven’t I heard of this series????? I’m taking a long weekend next week so I’ll look into this as possible reading material for the trip. Thanks, PCN!! 🙂


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