Finding a writer who spins a tale that you can’t stop reading is one of the joys of being an avid reader.
When that happens, all those lackluster books you bought and struggled to finish, eventually limping through the final pages in desperation, can finally be forgotten.
“Outfoxed,” by David Rosenfelt, provides that welcome “eureka” moment for me.
An even greater gift? Finding out this “new” writer you’ve discovered isn’t new at all — and the book you’re reading is actually Rosenfelt’s 14th in a series that feature the same protagonist, lawyer Andy Carpenter.
While fans of the “Game of Thrones” series lament the fact that their favorite writer, George R.R. Martin, works a bit slow and may not live long enough to finish his saga, my recent discovery of Rosenfelt presents the opposite dilemma: “Outfoxed” was so good, I expect I’ll spend the next several months working my way through his previous work, binge-reading all of the Carpenter mysteries.
And an added bonus: Rosenfelt and his wife moved to midcoast Maine a few years back. Many Mainers, I suspect, will join me in embracing another polished in-state writer — even if he’s officially “from away.”
In “Outfoxed,” which was published by Minotaur and released in July, Rosenfelt tells the story of Brian Atkins, an inmate serving time after being convicted of fraud and financial crimes. When Atkins escapes, and his wife and Atkins’ former business partner are murdered later that day, he’s quickly arrested.
Carpenter steps in to defend Atkins and becomes immersed in an increasingly violent world as some try to stop the truth from coming out.
While that sounds like boilerplate crime fiction, Rosenfelt’s treatment is nothing but.
Rosenfelt’s doesn’t litter the novel with long-winded descriptions of places and people. Instead, he lets his characters breathe and relies on the narrator — Carpenter — to tell the story for him.
The result: Dialogue (and Carpenter’s sarcastic inner voice) shine and keep the reader churning through the pages. The chapters are like the repartee — short and direct — which also help generate a pace that borders on frenetic.
Rosenfelt’s voice — or, if you prefer, Carpenter’s — in “Outfoxed” is well-defined and enjoyable to read. Picture John Grisham, with more of a wise-ass bent.
And in a switch from many authors in the genre, Rosenfelt’s characters — except the really nasty ones, of which there are several — often like each other, even when they’re going head to head in the courtroom or disagree on Atkins’ role in the murders.
Carpenter, the protagonist, is a wealthy man who really doesn’t want to practice law any longer. Instead, he wants to focus on the dog rescue organization he runs. That’s a parallel to Rosenfelt’s life: He and his wife started the Tara Foundation, which has helped rescue 4,000 dogs from shelters.
As the tension begins to tighten and Carpenter finds himself dealing with some characters who would rather he back off, Rosenfelt’s protagonist has an ace up his sleeve.
Carpenter, it seems, is essentially bulletproof, thanks to the presence of a frighteningly mysterious bodyguard named Marcus. Marcus doesn’t talk much, and when he does, Carpenter doesn’t understand what he’s saying. And you’re never sure exactly where Marcus is until he arrives, using an array of physical gifts to protect his boss or extract information from unwilling individuals.
“Outfoxed” was a lightning-fast, enjoyable read. Luckily, as a latecomer to the party, I’ve got more than a dozen more of his stories to zip through in the hopefully near future.