Mysterious, May 2003, 24.95, 230 pp.
Paterson, New Jersey attorney Andy Carpenter enjoys the freedom of newly acquired wealth, though the accompanying fame from his previous OPEN AND SHUT CASE makes him a mark for every local felon in the city where Lou Costello was born. Still proving death row inmate Willie Miller innocent was quite a feat, but though bored and able to be selective in choosing whom he wants to represent, Andy selects no clients.
Everything changes when private investigator Laurie Collins informs Andy that someone decapitated and set on fire dirty Patterson cop Alex Dorsey. Laurie once worked for Alex and tried to get him kicked off the force for his illegal dealings, but failed. Many folks on both sides of the law had motive and means to viciously kill Dorsey. However, PPD finds staggering circumstantial evidence that clearly points towards Laurie as the killer. Now motivated to work the judicial system, Andy and his help chase down every lead regardless of how small, but they either turn out dead, dead ended, or find more proof that his beloved client murdered the deserving victim.
FIRST DEGREE is a tremendous legal thriller. This and his previous novel proves that David Rosenfelt is heading for a seat on the Supreme Court of sub-genre authors. The story line is fast-paced whether it is in the courtroom or on the street seeking clues. Even more important is his effortless switching between the legal machinations and the investigation. Still what makes this OPEN AND SHUT novel a winner is the strong, fully developed and personable cast who readers will like so they will root for a not guilty resolution.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner