Dead Center (Andy Carpenter Series #5)

Dead Center (Andy Carpenter Series #5)

by David Rosenfelt

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After Laurie Collins left him and headed west, New Jersey defense attorney Andy Carpenter didn't expect to ever see her again. So he's shocked when his ex-girlfriend appears on TV--and then calls him pleading for his help. Two coeds in Wisconsin have been found brutally stabbed to death. As the town's acting police chief, Laurie had to arrest a young college student with a carful of bloodstains who argued with one of the victims just before her death. Yet Laurie strongly believes that the suspect, Jeremy Davidson, is innocent.

Trading the refineries and factories of Paterson for the frozen pastures of Findlay, Wisconsin, Andy soon finds himself in a small town handling a big-time double homicide case. He looks into Jeremy's romance with one of the victims--and the possible involvement of a bizarre religious cult--one that may sanction the most unholy, and vicious, of acts.

While Andy tries to save Jeremy, make sense of his love life, and find a decent pizza for his beloved dog, Tara, the secrets of an ultra-religious community begin to rain down on him like bricks from a cracked fortress. But as Edgar®-nominated Rosenfelt proves to us once again, the path to the truth is littered with lies and misdirection. And before it's all over, the unexpected is the only thing Andy can count on.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446554848
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 12/14/2008
Series: Andy Carpenter Series , #5
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 24,363
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

DAVID ROSENFELT was the marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. His debut novel, OPEN AND SHUT, won Edgar and Shamus award nominations. FIRST DEGREE, his second novel, was a Publishers Weekly selection for one of the top mysteries of the year, and BURY THE LEAD was chosen as a Today Show Book Club pick.

Read an Excerpt

Dead Center

By David Rosenfelt


Copyright © 2006 David Rosenfelt
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-892-96002-7

Chapter One

DO YOU GET SPIRITUAL credit for celibacy if it's involuntary?

This is the type of profound question I've asked myself a number of times during the last four and a half months. This is the first time I've asked it out loud, which may say something about my timing, since the person hearing it is my first date in all that time.

Actually, "date" may be overstating it. The quite beautiful woman that I am with is Rita Gordon, who when she's not dressed in a black silk dress with an exceptional cleavage staring straight at me, spends her days as the chief court clerk in Paterson, New Jersey. Rita and I have become fairly good friends over the last few years. No small accomplishment, since her daily job is basically to ward off demanding and obnoxious lawyers like me.

We're in one of North Jersey's classier restaurants, which was her choice entirely. I have absolutely no understanding why certain restaurants succeed and others don't. This one is ridiculously expensive, the menu is totally in French and impossible to understand, the portions are so small that parakeets would be asking for seconds, and the service is mediocre. With all that, we had to wait two weeks to get a reservation on a Thursday night.

The extent of my relationship with Rita until now has basically been toengage in sexual banter, an area in which her talents far exceed mine. She has always presented herself as an expert in dating, sex, and everything else that might take place between a man and a woman, and has volunteered to go with me on this "practice date" as a way to impart some of that knowledge to me.

I can use it, as evidenced by my celibacy question.

"There's an example of something you might want to avoid asking a date," says Rita. "Celibacy can be a bit of a sexual turnoff."

I nod. "Makes sense."

"On the other hand, swearing off sex increases your dating possibilities, since you could also go out with guys."

I shake my head. "Finding dates is not my problem; there are plenty of women that seem to be available. The problem is my lack of interest. It's the ironic opposite of high school."

Rita looks me straight in the eye, though that doesn't represent a change. She's been looking me straight in the eye since we sat down. She takes eye contact to a new level; it's like she's got X-ray vision and is looking through to my brain. I've never been an eye-contacter myself, and I almost want to create a diversion so she'll look away. Something small, like a fire in the kitchen or another patron fainting headfirst into his asparagus bisque.

"How long has Laurie been gone?" she asks.

I must be healing emotionally, since it's only recently that a question like that doesn't hit me like a knife in the chest. Laurie Collins was my private investigator and love of my life. She left to return to her hometown of Findlay, Wisconsin, where she will probably fulfill her dream and become chief of police. I had always wanted her dream to be a lifetime spent with me, Andy Carpenter.

"Four and a half months."

She nods wisely. "That explains why women are coming after you. They figure you've had enough time to get back into circulation, to get your transition woman behind you."

"Transition woman?"

She nods. "The first woman a guy has a relationship with after a serious relationship ends. It never works out; the guy's not ready. So women wait until they figure the guy's had his transition and he's ready to get serious again. The timing is tricky, because if she waits too long, the guy could be gone."

I give this some thought, but the concept doesn't seem to fit my situation, so I shake my head. "Laurie was the first woman I went out with after my marriage broke up. And she transitioned me; I didn't transition her."

"Have you spoken to her since she left?"

Another head shake from me. "She sent me a letter, but I didn't open it." This is not a subject I want to be discussing, so I try to change it. "So give me some advice."

"Okay," she says, leaning forward so that her chin hovers over her creme brulee. "Call Laurie."

"I meant dating advice."

She nods. "Okay. Don't do it until you're ready. And when you do, just relax and be yourself."

I shift around in my chair; the subject and the eye contact are combining to make me very uncomfortable. "That's what I did with Laurie. I was relaxed and myself ... right up until the day she dumped my relaxed self."

For some reason, on the rare occasions when I talk about my breakup with Laurie, I emphasize the "dumping" without getting into the reasons. The truth is that Laurie had an opportunity to fulfill a lifetime ambition and at the same time go back to the hometown to which she has always felt connected. She swore that she loved me and pretty much begged me to go with her, but I wanted to be here, and she wanted to be there.

"You've got to move on, Andy. It's time ..." Then the realization hits her, and she puts down her wineglass. "My God, you haven't had sex in four and a half months?"

It's painful for me to listen to this, partially because it's true, but mostly because the waitress has just come over and heard it as well.

I turn to the waitress. "She meant days ... I haven't had sex in four and a half days. Which for me is a really long time."

The waitress just shrugs her disinterest. "I'm afraid I can't help you with that. More coffee?"

She pours our coffee for us and departs. "Sorry about that, Andy," Rita says. "But four and a half months?"

I nod. "And I have no interest. The other day I found myself in the supermarket looking at the cover of Good Housekeeping instead of Cosmo."

"Pardon the expression," she asks, "but you want me to straighten you out?"

The question stuns me. She seems to be suggesting that we have sex, but I'm not sure, since I can count the number of times women have propositioned me in this manner on no fingers. "You mean ... you and me?"

She looks at her watch and shrugs. "Why not? It's still early."

"I appreciate the offer, Rita, but I'm just not ready. I guess I need sex to be more meaningful. Sex without love is just not what I'm looking for anymore; those days are behind me." These are the words that form in my mind but don't actually come out through my mouth.

What my mouth winds up saying is, "Absolutely." And then, "Check, please."


Excerpted from Dead Center by David Rosenfelt Copyright © 2006 by David Rosenfelt. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Dead Center (Andy Carpenter Series #5) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this on a trip with my sisters. After relating some of the funny things in the book my sisters demanded daily updates on the story. They all had to know how it ended. Entertaining and intriguing. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Come along for a fun ride, wherever you start this series. Witty, charming, well- paced and -plotted. Nice to re-read too. Glad I bought these.
Guest More than 1 year ago
David Rosenfelt gets better and better. His characters are so real you think you know them. His sense of humor comes through in every book so that it's so much more enjoyable to read his books than ones with gross murder after murder after murder. I will remain his number 1 fan for a long, long time!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just love Andy Carpenter, the New Jersey lawyer with the self-deprecating sense of humor and a huge inheritance that allows him the luxury of working - or not. When his ex-girlfriend Laurie calls to say she thinks she's arrested the wrong guy for murder and needs some help, Andy and his beloved dog Tara are on their way to Findlay, Wisconsin to lend a hand. Laurie dumped Andy and moved back home when she was offered the job as Findlay Chief of Police, but Andy still has feelings for her. Nevertheless he gets to work, investigating the victims who were both members of a religious sect called the Centurions. Smart, engaging characters, lots of laughs, some nice plot twists and simply superb storytelling make Dead Center irresistible.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is book #5 of the stand-up comedy/mystery/dog-related legal procedural series featuring lawyer Andy Carpenter and his golden retriever Tara.In Dead Center, Andy¿s girlfriend Laurie Collins has left Paterson, New Jersey to take her ¿dream job¿ on the police force of her old home town in Findlay, Wisconsin. Although she hasn¿t seen Andy in four months, she calls and asks him as a favor to come out there and defend a friend of her family, Jeremy Davidson. Jeremy has been charged with the double murder of his girlfriend Liz and her girlfriend Sheryl. The bodies were found in a shallow grave on his property. Blood flecks were spattered in Jeremy¿s car. Jeremy¿s guilt seems so obvious that ordinarily Andy wouldn¿t take the case, but he wants to see Laurie again, and so he and his golden retriever Tara make the drive to Wisconsin.Liz and Sheryl were members of a bizarre religious cult located in Center City, about ten miles from Findlay. The people of this faith have no desire for interference from, or information sharing with, the outside world. Thus, Andy needs help, and he brings some others from his team up to Findlay to help out. Soon they are all in danger. On the bright side however, Laurie seems more conflicted than ever about whether she really wants to live apart from Andy.Evaluation: One gets the impression that this plot was designed to showcase funny remarks about Wisconsin, and if you¿ve ever lived there (as I have) you will get a big kick out of this book. Even aside from the jokes about winters and cheese, however, these humorous mysteries from Rosenfelt never fail to entertain me. I don¿t see a Pulitzer in the author¿s future, but I do see a lot of loyal readers like myself who love having a witty, diverting read.
judileaming on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
David Ronsenfelt possesses the ability to combine great suspense with great humor and come up with a winner every time. What fun to read his books ... and to be challenged by his "song-talking".
WeeziesBooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dead Center by Rosenfelt is a story told by Andy, a lawyer from New Jersey. Andy is in love with Laurie who has left Andy to return to her home town area of Cheese County where she is now serving as the acting Chef of Police. This is a light mystery with a touch of cultism in ¿The Centurions¿ a town and religion that controls the inhabitants and excludes any outsiders. Following an unexplained death, the twists and turns of investigations bring Laurie and Andy back together to solve this local mystery. The story was short and light and mildly entertaining. I gave it the book a 3 star rating because 2.5 was not available and I felt it was better than a 2 out of 5.
Tangen More than 1 year ago
laugh-out-loud, law-enforcement, snark-fest, snow, lawyers, culture-shock, cults The mystery tale is creative, and there's the issues between Andy and his ladylove, but that's not the best of it all for this Wisconsinite! It's all the frozen tundra snarks and the foodie fun! No way does Wisconsin or its people come off badly. Unless, of course you object to our winters, potluck suppers, or basic kindness. I loved it! Grover Gardner really shines as narrator.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters are great and work well together.
Jani8 More than 1 year ago
You might say that there is a change of venue in this book. It takes place in Wisconsin where Laurie is now working instead of Paterson, NJ. She asks Andy to take a case out there. A young man is charged with killing his girlfriend and her friend and Laurie’s sure he didn’t do it. So, Andy goes to the cheese state to see what he can do. They still have incredible attraction to each other along with still being in love. The case is interesting. Some attacks of violence and a few more corpses turn up so they send for Marcus, a mountain of a man, for protection, and the case picks up speed. I enjoyed Mr. Rosenfelt’s take on the Midwest. I’m originally from Minnesota and he pegged it pretty well, along with some errors. Again, I love the character of Andy Campbell so much because of his sense of humor and his love for dogs. I hope Mr. Rosenfelt keeps writing the series forever!
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I am from Wi, nailed it!
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