THE BLOG
07/09/2008 02:19 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

"Open and Shut" - Audio Book Review

AUTHOR David Rosenfelt (1sth in the Andy Carpenter Series)
GENRE: Courtroom Based Who-Did-It.
LENGTH: 6 hours, 50 minutes
PUBLISHER: Listen & Live Audio
NARRATOR: Grover Gardner

LOG LINE
Wisecracking, millionaire lawyer takes on impossible murder case and uncovers his dead father's secret past.

COMMENT
This is the debut story in the Andy Carpenter series. There at least five more. If you're the kind of person who likes to start a series at the beginning, this is where you'd start. "Open & Shut" is a niche in mystery genre that could be called 'TudeDude, which features flippant, wisecracking, irreverent sleuths in the pursuit of justice. It's all about attitude. Master 'TudeDudes include Robert B. Parker's Spenser, Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, Robert Crais' Elvis Cole and Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar. The opposite of this type would be Lee Child's rock sturdy Jack Reacher. You get the idea.

Rosenfelt's 'tudedude is New Jersey defense lawyer, Andy Carpenter, out to re-try a murder case his revered D.A. father first convicted. Andy's got to figure out figure out three unknowns.

1) How come his dead father leaves him 22 million bucks.
2) What's with the old photo of his Dad and some characters who may be a part of......
3) The re-trial of the poor shlub on death row for rape and murder of a reporter.

While all three story lines are neatly tied together, there's a distinct lack of friction in here to carry the listener along. There's a crusty judge, who could have provided some tension, but turns out to be fair and reasonable. The heavy-weight opposing prosecutor is basically quite cooperative when push-comes-to-shove. Even the one-time violence intended to scare Andy off, doesn't add any real tension. And that's the problem. There is no seriously focused threat or challenge to Andy which leaves the listener with Andy's wisecracking, flippant attitude as this story's main propellant. It's not enough.

Narrator Grover Gardner does all the books in this series. His baritone reading here is straightforward and pleasant but doesn't do much to punch-up Andy's 'tudedude style. If you've ever heard Jonathan Marosz do a Myron Bolitar book, you know how the right storyteller can enhance a 'tudedude hero.

BOTTOM LINE
Some attitude. Little tension. Not much fun.

This book got an Edgar nomination, which may not say much for the Edgars.