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First Degree Hardcover – June, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 222 customer reviews
Book 2 of 14 in the Andy Carpenter Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Clever plot twists, deft legal maneuverings and keen wit boost Rosenfelt's accomplished follow-up to his Edgar-nominated debut, Open and Shut (2002). Newly wealthy and no longer in need of cases to sustain his legal practice, Paterson, N.J., attorney Andy Carpenter is free to pick and choose his clients. The glib, amiable Andy certainly would not choose the character who comes into his office confessing to the grisly murder of corrupt police officer Alex Dorsey. The bad end of a bad cop has almost endless ramifications. After successfully dealing with one complication arising from this surprising visit, Andy is faced with an even worse one when his lover, PI Laurie Collins, winds up accused of Dorsey's murder. As the net of overwhelming circumstantial evidence tightens around Laurie during the judicial process, every lead Andy and his team pursue seems to result in either a death or a dead end. The author adroitly maintains a fast pace while switching gears effortlessly between the courtroom and the investigation. As satisfying as the nuts and bolts of the case are, it's the sheer likability of Andy and the odd assortment of his friends and staff that lifts the story from merely enjoyable to genuinely delightful. Rosenfelt should win a unanimous verdict: first-rate.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Readers who enjoyed Rosenfelt's sparkling debut novel, Open and Shut [BKL My 1 02]--and that should include pretty much everyone who opened it--will be eagerly awaiting this second in the series starring New Jersey defense attorney Andy Carpenter. The $22 million Andy inherited from his father in the first book has helped make him extremely selective in choosing his clients. Here he insists--against the pleas of his lover, ex-cop Laurie Collins--on coming to the defense of the man who has been arrested for the murder of a notoriously corrupt cop. Matters grow considerably more complicated when Laurie herself is later charged with the crime. As before, Andy's present-tense narration, peppered with self-deprecating humor and a rather large dose of cynicism, carries the story. This one might not quite equal its predecessor, but it's very good, indeed, and it confirms that Rosenfelt will be a force in the legal-thriller world for a long time to come. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press; First Edition edition (June 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892967544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892967544
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (222 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stacy Alesi on May 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The Edgar Award nominee for his first novel, Open & Shut, has penned another winner. Andy Carpenter, loveable lawyer (no, that's not an oxymoron,) is back and suffering from a severe case of "lawyer's block." When you've inherited $$$ million dollars, it takes away your incentive to represent any old criminal who walks through the door. But things change when a cop of questionable ethics is killed. The same cop, Alex Dorsey, that Andy's lover, PI Laurie Collins, turned in when she was on the police force. Then a man strolls into Andy's office, confesses, and asks Andy to represent him. Meanwhile the police have arrested someone else, someone Laurie is sure is innocent. One suspect after another fizzles out until Laurie becomes the chief suspect. Circumstantial evidence abounds, and Andy finally has a client he can get behind. It's personal now and the stakes have never been higher as Andy has to find the real killer and exonerate Laurie. Somehow the laughs keep coming as tension mounts and the bodies pile up, no easy feat but a sure testament to Rosenfelt's skill. This fast, funny read will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you wanting more.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read too much and too often. I picked up this book and was not familiar with Rosenfelt's previous work. I was hooked from the first page.

There are many detective books that rely on humor that often falls flat. This is not the case. Many times, as I read into the night, I found myself laughing out loud and then quickling stifling that laughter so as not to wake up my wife.

The lead character, Andy Carpenter, is engaging and enjoyable. You find yourself wanting him to meet up with different people to see how he reacts and what he is thinking about.

The plot is smooth, interesting and entertaining. It is also enjoyable to see how Carpenter is going to handle new evidence or how he is going to figure out the answers. I enjoy Evanovich's books, but I find Rosenfelt's plot, characters and situations to be even better. When you read this book, you will get good action, great lines and a good, albeit short, read. You will not be disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Rosenfelt's second novel, "First Degree", pretty much picks up where his highly acclaimed and immensely enjoyable debut, "Open and Shut", left off. Back is wise-cracking defense attorney Andy Carpenter, "Law-dromat" lawyer Kevin Randall, investigator/girlfriend Laurie Collins, and of course Tara, Carpenter's golden retriever. Even Willie Miller, the death-row inmate Carpenter defends in his first book, is back starring in a mostly unnecessary sub-plot. But if you enjoyed "Open and Shut", you'll certainly find the pace, style, and settings of "First Degree" comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that reading "Open and Shut" is almost prerequisite, at least if you want to have any clue to the source Carpenter's mysterious inheritance and the imprisonment of his Senator ex-father-in-law which are frequently referenced in the new story.
"First Degree" gets off to a fast start with the gruesome discovery of the headless and charred body of Alex Dorsey, a Patterson police lieutenant with a shady history. Shortly after the murder, a mysterious visitor shows up in Andy's office, confesses to being Dorsey's killer and, in the process, drops some clues regarding the murder that only those responsible for the crime would know. This leads to a series of events that ends in the arrest of Laurie Collins for the murder of Dorsey. Laurie indeed may have a motive: as a former Patterson cop, she blew the whistle on Dorsey's unsavory activities, but was unsuccessful in making the charges stick. With Laurie now in the hot seat, Andy and Kevin team up again, defending her against what appears to be a carefully concocted frame job. What follows is some compelling courtroom drama, spiced Andy's bizarre but now-legendary defense antics, paced with a satisfying blend of humor and cynicism.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
FIRST DEGREE is a sequel that will delight the fans of David Rosenfelt's five star debut novel OPEN AND SHUT (review 10/23/2004). The following summary from my review of that book is equally applicable here. This is neither a novel of lasting historical significance or a truly overwhelming literary achievement. Rather it is a story that is great fun to read because of the enjoyable protagonist that the author has created to be the narrator. The story is related in the first person by attorney Andy Carpenter, who lives and practices law in Paterson, New Jersey. Andy's reputation is that of an excellent criminal defense attorney who is occasionally willing to engage in whatever courtroom theatrics and bizarre behavior are necessary to gain a verdict of not guilty for his clients. This methodology of course endears him to most defendants but frequently tries the patience of the opposing district attorney and more ominously on occasion puts him in risk of being held in contempt by the presiding judge. He is often compared, not always favorably, with his father, the legendary and respected ex-district attorney Nelson Carpenter.

As readers of the previous novel will be aware, when this novel commences Andy is considerably richer and much more widely recognized than he was during that story. The wealth is a function of his receipt of a totally unexpected inheritance; the fame is a function of the central storyline of that novel - his success in the high profile reversal of the sentence of death row inmate Willie Miller (who had been prosecuted by Andy's father). If you are a reader who enjoyed OPEN AND SHUT and have looked forward to following Andy's further courtroom exploits, this book will delight you.
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