Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Sunday Book Review, October 9, 2011: Open and Shut

Madame L has read so many crime-detective-police-procedural-legal-eagle-whodunit novels in her time that sometimes they tend to run together. Sometimes, too, they seem to have the same stock characters, same plot, same resolution, and same lead-in to the next in the series.

So why does Madame L keep reading these books? She supposes it's because, like most people, she likes to solve problems or read about people who solve problems. 

Madame L shares some of the best of these novels with you, Dear Reader, because there *are* so many of these novels out there, and if you pick up a book randomly you may get one of the worst ones, which outnumber the good ones by a huge margin. 

Here's one Madame L really enjoyed because the stock characters were more interesting than usual, the plot had more twists than usual, and therefore the resolution was more satisfying than usual: "Open and Shut," by David Rosenfelt.

First stock character: the principled defense lawyer, Andy Carpenter, in the stock situation of defending the second stock character, the convicted murderer, Willie Miller. Andy is dealing with further stock characters: his rich but alienated wife and his beautiful and recently bedded investigator, as well as the stock golden retriever whom Andy rescued from the pound the day before she was going to be put down after she was abandoned by someone else. Andy also has to deal with the stock mean judge (nicknamed ... wait for it ... "Hatchet) and the upright and uptight prosecutor.

Okay, but here's the thing: The characters may fit into some "Writing Crime Novels for Idiots" formula, but Rosenfelt fills them out and makes them likable and sympathetic. Same for the plot, nicely filled out and believable, up to every detail. Oh, and there's humor. And no sex scenes, though the characters are real adults who live complete adult lives, if you know what Madame L means.

So, it's a quick read, a fun read, and not quite an open-and-shut case. Enjoy! As always, if you don't want to buy a copy or get it from the library, Madame L will mail it to you for free. Really. Just send her a message or leave a comment.

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