Thursday, November 26, 2015

The dangers of assuming a criminal case is "Open and Shut"...

Open and Shut by 
This book proves that so very much can be 
'faked' and 'overlooked' when dealing with 
a criminal case, if the evildoers have enough control.
I do not recall how I initially became aware of Rosenfelt and his Andy Carpenter mystery series, 
but I am grateful to have found it!
I want to read them all!

I love Rosenfelt's characterization--not only do I feel as if I know each character well, I love that even "the good guys" aren't perfect! And the "bad guys" aren't all bad...well, except one or two... :) And there was no fear of me figuring out the whole story, though every once in awhile I would have a glimmer of possible insight, Rosenfelt was good at building the mysteries, for truly, there was more than one!

The book begins with a description of driving through the Lincoln Tunnel on his way to northern New Jersey from New York City. 
  I'm one link in an endless chain of drivers, all moving our cars through an atmosphere of one hundred percent pure carbon monoxide. Tunnel workers patrol walkways along the walls; I assume they are there to make sure no car achieves a speed above three miles an hour. Their lungs must have a life expectancy of an hour and a half. (1)
I found this first passage of the book to be a good example of Rosenfelt's writing style: realistic with sarcastic humor thrown in! I laughed and chuckled throughout the book, though the story line was definitely serious. 
  Suddenly, without warning, a burst of speed by the cars ahead lets me gun the accelerator to almost five miles an hour. At this rate, there's a chance I might make it home in time to leave for court tomorrow morning. (3)  
I cannot imagine driving in such traffic jams every single day. I have been stuck in commuting traffic in Baltimore, Chicago, Washington DC, and Atlanta. Those make the traffic I sometimes encounter in my own workday commute pale in comparison, which makes me feel fortunate! 

And anyone who can write about a canine companion as well as he does most certainly deserves to be read! 
  There is nothing like a golden retriever. I know, I know. It's a big planet with a lot of wonderful things, but golden retrievers are the absolute best. Mine is named Tara....The only problem she has ever caused is that I spend so much time with her in the mornings that I am almost invariably late for work. (4)
On his way into court:
I'd love to take her with me, and she often comes to my office, but the bailiffs take a dim view of canines in court. What they don't realize is that she's smarter than half the lawyers that practice there. (4) 
Okay, admittedly, it should state "who practice there" for grammatical accuracy, but...I do understand his statement! :)

Andy is known for his trickery in the court system. I could truly appreciate several of those depicted in the book, particularly the fact that if a jury could possibly believe someone else had just confessed to committing a specific crime, then they were NOT convinced beyond a "reasonable doubt" of the defendant's guilt. Good point! I have served on two juries and it can be tricky! You must keep your mind open and consider all possibilities. In contrast, his father, who was a venerated ex-District Attorney was known to be 'true blue' and never do anything untoward during his legal career--playing strictly 'by the book.' 

Rosenfelt manages to insert a bit of philosophy here and there:
  Today the Yankees are playing the Red Sox. I used to hate the Red Sox...and anybody else not in pinstripes. But I don't hate anymore, I'm too arrogant for that. To hate is to grant a level of importance that those teams don't deserve. We dismiss our opponents, we don't hate them. They are not worthy of that. (13)
Ha! I really like this. I have learned in my almost 60 years that the less I can allow myself to react emotionally, the better. That especially includes negative feelings toward anyone or anything. It's difficult to describe, but it does make my life much happier, much less chaotic, and my outlook much calmer. I work hard to coach myself to simply accept and deal in the best way possible, realizing situations over which I have absolutely no control and those upon which I might be able to make some positive impact.

More humor:
  I also was leery of mixing business with pleasure, cognizant as I was of the difficulties that can result. But the main reason I hesitated to sleep with Laurie is because whenever I brought it up she said no. Two weeks ago she changed her mind, which coincidentally was the exact moment I stopped hesitating. (19)
Ha! More of that 'tongue in cheek' humor! :) And later...
I haven't mentioned this to Laurie yet, and I tell myself it's because I haven't seen her. I also tell myself that I don't owe her anything, that we have no commitment to each other, but I can't quite get myself to stop feeling like a shithead. (29) 
And he was acting like a shithead, but it is true, isn't it? We all have times when we just can't make ourselves do what we know we should do...

Andy is representing the fruit stand owner's son and she is paying him with fruit every few days...
  On the way into the office I'm stopped by Sofia Hernandez, standing and waiting for me in front of her fruit stand. She hands me two cantaloupes, the second installment on her son's legal bills.
  "Thank you," I say. "You know, the best thing about being paid in cantaloupes is that they don't bounce."
  She doesn't come close to getting the joke. If a joke is told in a fruit stand and nobody gets it, did it make a sound? (45)
Oh, my. There is so much in this passage. Mainly, though, Rosenfelt demonstrates that humor is always the last nuance of a non-native language that will be understood by a non-native speaker. Humor is so closely tied to the specific culture that it is unfamiliar to the other person. Useful information to have and use! 

Such great descriptions! As he enters the prison's death row to visit with a client:
  The place seems entirely gray, as if I am looking at it through black and white eyes. The stench of hopelessness is everywhere; it feels like the animal shelter in which I found Tara. Everybody in cages, just waiting until it's time to die, knowing no one is coming to set them free. (25)
Whew! That's a pretty strong image and I imagine it is true. 

I admit that I was relieved to hear the truth about his father's actions 40 years earlier, as was Andy. There are several different mysteries involved in this one book, though in some ways they are intertwined. Although this book does involve a "conspiracy" it is not 'formulaic' as I would describe many of the writers who incorporate conspiracies into their mysteries. Rosenfelt is much more involved in the characters' personalities and motivations than just actions, and that's the kind of mystery writer whose works I most enjoy! Oh, it will be difficult not to just immerse myself in the rest of his books immediately! Library wishlist here I come! :)

Have you read any of Rosenfelt's books? 
I would heartily recommend you give this series a try!

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