Summary and book reviews of Play Dead by David Rosenfelt

Play Dead

by David Rosenfelt

Play Dead
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  • First Published:
    May 2007, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2009, 384 pages

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Book Summary

Attorney Andy Carpenter loves dogs, especially his own beloved Tara. When Andy discovers that this gentle dog is a key witness to a murder, it will take all the tricks he knows to convince a jury to take canine testimony seriously.

Few can rival attorney Andy Carpenter's affection for golden retrievers, especially his own beloved Tara. After he astonishes a New Jersey courtroom by successfully appealing another golden's death sentence, Andy discovers that this gentle dog is a key witness to a murder that took place five years before.

Andy pushes the boundaries of the law even further as he struggles to free an innocent man by convincing an incredulous jury to take canine testimony seriously. It will take all the tricks Andy's fertile mind can conceive to get to the bottom of a remarkable chain of impersonations and murder, and save a dog's life—and his own—in the process.

Excerpt
Play Dead

“ANDY, YOU’RE NOT GOING to believe this.”

This is the type of sentence that, when said in a vacuum, doesn’t reveal much. Whatever it is that I am not going to believe might be very positive or very negative, and there would be no way to know until I see it.

Unfortunately, this particular sentence is not said in a vacuum; it’s said in the Passaic County Animal Shelter. Which means that “positive” is no longer one of the possibilities.

The person speaking the words is Fred Brandenberger, whose job as shelter manager is an impossibly difficult one. There are far more dogs that come through his doors than potential adopters, and he therefore must helplessly supervise the euthanasia of those that are not taken. I know it drives Fred crazy; he’s been in the job for two years, and my guess is he’s not going to last much longer.

It bothers me to come here, and I rarely do. I leave this job to my former legal client, Willie ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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Rosenfelt's style is light and witty, putting the reader at ease with a promise of an entertaining plot with minimal bloodshed. It's shoo-in for animal lovers and those who like their legal thrillers on the cozy side.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews

Entertainment Weekly - Bob Cannon

David Rosenfelt concocts a taut thriller full of whiplash plot twists and wisecracking dialogue from Carpenter's Godfather-quoting partner, proving that he's long since earned his crime-novelist pedigree. B+

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. No shaggy dog story, this puppy's alive with reliable Rosenfelt wit and heart.

Booklist - David Pitt

Starred Review. Andy's offbeat, outspoken personality shines on every page, and the balance of humor and mystery is dead-on. There is nothing else to say about this fine novel, except this: read it as soon as you can.

Reader Reviews

Whoizzit

Not Just for Dog Lovers - Best Yet!
I discovered David Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter series a few years ago and have read them all. I love his wit, the well-defined characters, the plotlines, and the dogs that are always close to the main characters. IMHO, Play Dead is one of Rosenfelt's ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Animals on Trial
The idea of canine testimony being accepted in court is not without precedent (e.g. drug smugglers who are convicted on the evidence of sniffer dogs), but what about the idea of putting an animal itself on trial?

These days, animals are not tried on the basis that they lack the ability to make moral judgments and therefore cannot be held culpable for an act. However, this was not always so. Numerous cases exist in history, many of them collected in The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals written by Edward Payson Evans in 1906 and reprinted in the 1980s. For example:

"In 1386, the tribunal of Falaise sentenced a sow to be mangled and maimed in the head and forelegs, and then to...

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