Mysterious, May 2002, 23.95, 241 pp.
In New Jersey judicial circles, the name Nelson Carpenter is legendary as the former District Attorney earned the respect of the entire state. In Passaic County, Nelson's oldest born, defense attorney Andy Carpenter abuses that reputation that enables him to avoid contempt charges due to his questionable courtroom antics that irritate judges and prosecutors, but frees his clients.
Nelson asks Andy to defend Willie Miller in the felon's appeal of a murder conviction that the older Carpenter prosecuted. Witnesses stated that they found the accused standing over the murdered corpse of Denise McGregor and Willie's fingerprints and blood were all over the murder weapon. When Nelson dies while attending a baseball game with Andy, the latter knows he must honor his father's last wish of him. As he begins to become more familiar with the Miller case, Andy is stunned to inherit a fortune and find a seemingly incriminating photo of his dad. Soon someone threatens to kill Andy if he insists on working the Miller appeal.
OPEN AND SHUT is a fabulous legal thriller that is at its best when Andy stays on center stage as a loose cannon attorney. When the subplot involves Andy's personal relationships with his wife and his private investigator, it loses an edge though having the sleuth capable of kicking butt is a nice gender bender twist. Overall, the story line is fast-paced providing readers a thrilling ride through the New Jersey judiciary system. Jurors will discover David Rosenfelt's debut is quite appealing and sentence the author to providing more tales starring Andy.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner