A fun, not-quite-cozy, mystery…
David Rosenfelt’s Good Dog, Bad Cop is the fourth in his K-Team mystery series, which is itself a spin-off from his Andy Carpenter series, And somehow I’ve never read any of them. But I was recently offered an advance review copy of Good Dog, and, even without having any background from the earlier books, I liked it a lot.
One of the things I enjoy the most in a contemporary mystery is solid investigative work, and Good Dog has plenty of that. In one of those quirks of government budgeting, it seems the Paterson Police Department doesn’t have money for more officers, but does have funding for consultants. And Pete Stanton, the head of the Homicide Division, is no fool – he’s going to spend his consulting budget before he loses it. So Pete hires the “K-team”, which consists of retired cop, Corey Douglas; his human team-mates, Laurie Collins (wife of Andy), and Marcus Clark; and, of course, Corey’s also retired K-9 partner, Simon Garfunkel; to take another look at some of the Division’s cold cases.
The only problem is that the K-team decide to start with a couple of cases that aren’t very old: the year-and-a-half old death of Corey’s former mentor, Jimmy Dietrich, found shot in a boat with Susan Avery; and the earlier, execution-style assassination of Susan’s husband, Danny Avery – who was, it turns out, also a Paterson cop. In spite of all the effort that goes into investigating the killing of a police officer, Danny Avery’s death has remained unsolved, and the Paterson police department also hasn’t been able to figure out whether the Jimmy Dietrich-Susan Avery case was a double-murder or a murder-suicide.
Corey wants to clear his mentor’s name, so the K-team, together with their white-hat computer hacker, Sam, revisit the case files, re-interview folks involved at the time, come up with a couple of possible new takes on what might have happened, and start chasing down clues. But as new deaths start to add up in the wake of their investigation, it quickly becomes obvious that these cases are far from cold. Eventually, though, the good guys figure out what happened, catch a couple of big-time crooks, rescue an innocent man, and clear Jimmy’s name in the process.
Another thing I like in any mystery, contemporary or historical, is a nice dose of snark, and Corey and crew dish out enough humor to keep me chuckling, even while I was puzzled by the case itself.
I do have two small issues with Good Dog, Bad Cop, though. The first is simply that we don’t see enough of the titular “good dog”. There are times that Corey brings Simon along, and times he doesn’t – even while musing that Simon will be upset to have missed the action. And although Corey sometimes offers explanations for leaving Simon at home, it would sure would be nice to see more of the K-9 who has lent his name to the team.
And the second is that a lot of the investigative chops in Good Dog actually belong to the K-team’s computer geek, Sam, And sometimes it felt a bit like cheating – that everyone relied on Sam’s skills way too much. I don’t really doubt that the feats of electronic derring-do that Sam pulls off are possible (even if truly scary), but at times it felt as if the K-team just got handed a few too many clues for “free”.
Still, neither of those was that big of a deal and Good Dog, Bad Cop was a lot of fun. I’m now happily going to go look for other books by Rosenfelt. And my thanks to St Martins/Minotaur and to NetGalley for the advance review copy.