Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Was it really in the "center"?

Rosenfelt does it again! 
He makes me laugh! He challenges my crime-solving skills! 
And he makes me want a dog like Tara all for myself!
First sentence:
Do you get spiritual credit for celibacy if its involuntary? (1)
I was laughing so hard my husband just had to know what I was reading!       It turns out this is his opening comment to Rita, his "practice date."     She is a self-proclaimed "expert in dating, sex, and everything else that might take place between a man and a woman" and Andy is hoping         she will impart some of this vast knowledge to him. 
She suggests he might not want to actually pose this question to a date. 

Andy feels he is trapped in a stage that is an "ironic opposite of high school"--there are plenty of women who seem to be available, but he isn't interested. He admits that Laurie left--or "dumped him," as he terms it--four and a half months ago.
"You've got to get a move on , Andy. It's time..." Then the realization hits her, and she puts down her wineglass. "My God, you haven't had sex in four and a half months?"
It's painful for me to listen to this, partially because it's true, but mostly because the waitress has just come over and heard it as well. [Yes, I'm laughing again!]
I turn to the waitress. "She meant days...I haven't had sex in four and a half days
Which for me is a really long time.
The waitress just shrugs her disinterest. "I'm afraid I can't help you with that. More coffee?" (4)
Poor Andy! I'm not sure any of this is really helping...? 
"Pardon the expression," [Rita] asks, "but you want me to straighten you out?"
This question stuns me. She seems to be suggesting that we have sex, but I'm not sure, since I can count the number of times women have propositioned me in this manner on no fingers. 
"You mean...you and me?"
She looks at her watch and shrugs. "Why not? It's still early." [I'm dyin' laughin' now!]
"I appreciate the offer, Rita, but I'm just not ready. I guess I need sex to be more meaningful. 
Sex without love is just not what I'm looking for anymore; those days are behind me."
These are the words that form in my mind but don't actually come out through my mouth.
What my mouth winds up saying is, "Absolutely." And then, "Check, please." (5)
I couldn't help it, I just had to stop and laugh!! Andy is unable to walk Rita to the door the next morning:
Even after summoning all the energy I have left, all I'm able to do is gasp my thanks. 
She smiles and leaves, apparently pleased at a job well done. 
"Well done" doesn't come close to describing it. There are certain times in one's life where one can tell that one is in the presence of greatness. Sex with Rita would be akin to 
sharing a stage with Olivier or having a catch with Willie Mays or singing a duet with Pavarotti. 
It is all I can do to avoid saying, "Good-bye, maestro," when she leaves. (7)

Andy now works as a legal talking head on cable television, a pundit who argues legalities with other pundits. He is interrupted on one of these CNN shows with a special breaking live report from...Findlay, Wisconsin, where Laurie is now Acting Chief of Police and in the process of announcing an arrest in a double murder in that small community. Andy is nauseous, shocked, and then proud, as he watches and listens. As the legal analysis is restarted, the host asks Andy several questions related to Laurie and himself:
"And just so our audience will know the full picture, is it true that Laurie Collins, the love of your life, dumped you? And is it also true that you didn't have sex until Rita Gordon took pity on you last night?" Spencer doesn't ask me these questions; 
they only reside in the pathetic recesses of my mind." (16)
I was laughing yet again! 

It cracks me up how Andy always evaluates everybody's weight and height. For example, he describes his two best friends...
Pete is six three and slim, while Vince is five eight and round. 
They remind me of Abbott and Costello, but with less dignity. (19)
Ha! Ha! Ha! I'm wondering how they could possibly be less dignified than Abbott and Costello. Really? :) But according to him it is! Pete helpfully suggests...
"You should take out Karen Sampson."
Karen Sampson is a friend of Pete's wife's who is completely unappealing to me in both looks and personality. "I don't think so," I say. "I think she's more Vince's type."
Vince considered this for a moment and shrugs. "Sure, I'll take her out. Why not?"
"Why not?" Pete asks."Cause I like her, and 'cause she's a normal human being, that's why not." (20)
Ah...now I get the resemblance to Abbot and Costello! :)

Laurie ends up calling Andy to help with this double murder case. Although there is enough evidence to arrest and possibly convict a young man, she doesn't believe he's guilty. He agrees to speak with the defendant's father about his son's case and...ends up out in Findlay, Wisconsin, serving as Counsel for the Defense along with the local guy who had already been hired, Calvin Marshall, who describes himself as a "grizzled, cantankerous small-town attorney." Once Andy is settled in at the local hotel he realizes there is NO TV in his room! This man cannot survive without sports on TV! When he returns to his room that evening, one has been placed in his room.
"To my surprise and delight, the hotel gets cable TV, including the ESPNs and CNN. 
Between the pizza and a Knicks-Spurs game, for the first time 
I feel like Findlay is providing the intellectual and cultural stimulation I require. (58)
Then there is a knock on the door and the bellman delivers a small coffeemaker that Andy had asked for. He absolutely freaks out when Andy hands him a $5 dollar bill as a tip, so that he makes "a silent vow to undertip the rest of [his] stay." As soon as Andy and Tara have settled back onto the bed again, there is another knock on the door. But this time it is Laurie, whom Tara literally drops to the floor, being so excited to see her again! 
She comes inside the room and closes the door behind her. 
We look at each other for probably five seconds, though it feels like an hour and a half. 
Then she moves toward me and kisses me, and the anger I have been feeling for the 
last four and a half months is overwhelmed by something that feels nothing like anger.
Our clothes are off and we're in bed so fast that it's as if we're in a movie and the scene has been edited...as if the director has mandated they do a quick cut from the clothed scene at the door to the naked scene in bed. In all the times I pictured meeting Laurie, never once did it wind up like this. 
I need to work on my picturing skills. (59)
Ha! I guess you do, Andy! Their night of passion is interrupted when Laurie is called out to the scene of a crime...the accused young man's parent's home has been firebombed. His father begs Andy,
"You've got to help our son, Mr. Carpenter. Please...
I'd like to say we can handle this on our own, but there's no way."
Six hours ago I had decided not to take on the case. Since then, the Davidsons' house 
has been firebombed, I've had sex with Laurie, and I've discovered that the hotel has ESPN. 
To say the least, these are new factors to consider. 
The truth is, the most important new factor is what happened at this house. 
I simultaneously possess a lack of physical courage and a refusal to back down from bullies. 
It's amazing I've lived as long as I have. (67)

Thus begins "an interesting few months." Andy is jealous of Lieutenant Parsons, with whom Laurie works closely. Finally Laurie says,
"Andy, do you think in a million years I would stoop to 
having a relationship with someone who works for me?"
"You worked for me," I point out.
She nods. "I never said you wouldn't stoop that low."...
Leaving me with still another conversational defeat. (74)
Andy ends up pullling in those he usually works with in New Jersey to help with this case. Kevin actually comes out to Findlay to stay, as well as Marcus, the oversized 'animal' who keeps Andy safe from thugs and others who might wish to do him harm, or even try to kill him. As Andy and Calvin approach Andy's rental house, they see Marcus:
Marcus sitting on the porch of this peaceful house in this sedate little town gives new meaning to the word "incongruous." He projects pure menace and power, 
and Calvin says, "You'd better get him inside quick." 
"Why?" I ask. 
"Because in two minutes, FOR SALE signs are going to be popping up on this street like weeds." (142)
Darn good thing Marcus is there! He saves Andy and others several times over. 

Calvin and Andy become good buds. 
Calvin is the perfect couch potato companion; I even feel comfortable allowing him to handle the remote control. Higher praise I cannot bestow on a fellow human." (161)
As is typical with Rosenfelt, some of the good guys die, and Andy discovers his client has lied to him.
I will never fully trust him again and will always be worried that there's another freight train coming around the next bend. His lie doesn't make him a murderer, 
but it certainly makes it more likely he will be convicted as one. (182)
While I could certainly understand the accused person's reluctance to divulge the truth of his actions, I could also relate to an attorney's loss of faith in his own client. That would just serve to further complicate things and make a defense much more difficult.

In the end, Andy's investigation ends up 'centered' around Center City, the home of the Centurion religion in which there is a huge wheel that is spun to determine all kinds of things about these people and their lives: who they will marry, what their career will be, etc. Though only one man is capable of interpreting the wheel's markings to determine what it means. 
"...the townspeople have achieved a serenity and bizarre freedom of choice 
by their choosing to give up that freedom. (305)
This 'closed society' is implicated in many ways regarding the murders committed in this area. But as usual, Andy encounters unexpected twists and turns and all turns out as well as could be expected. And...he and Laurie decide to make a long-distance relationship work, rather than breaking up...again! That is excellent news!!

Rosenfelt does some philosophizing in this one, but in his usual offhanded way. 
I believe this may be my favorite of this series so far.
Do you have a favorite series you read for pleasure and escape?

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