You don’t have to love dogs to be a fan of David Rosenfelt’s mystery series featuring criminal defense attorney Andy Carpenter, but it doesn’t hurt.
The eighteenth book in the series, the Christmas-themed “Deck the Hounds,” has just been published. The cover photo is of a litter of puppies, all sound asleep and wearing Santa hats.
Rosenfelt, who lives near Damariscotta, will be the keynote speaker and a panelist at the Murder by the Book event Saturday Oct. 27 at the Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor.
In the latest Andy Carpenter book, the wise-cracking lawyer reluctantly takes on another seemingly unwinnable case. He is supported by the usual cast of characters including his wife, Laurie, a former police chief, and his dog, Tara.
That was the name of a dog Rosenfelt and his wife had some years ago, whom he describes as “the greatest golden retriever the world has ever known.”
The fictional Andy Carpenter lives in Paterson, N.J., where — talk about coincidences! — Rosenfelt grew up.
Rosenfelt said that, while there are some basic differences, he and his lead character have much in common.
“There is definitely a similarity between us in terms of perspective on the world and voice,” he said in a telephone interview with the Islander last week. “And we’re both cowards, we both don’t understand women and we’re both sports degenerates.”
After graduating from New York University, Rosenfelt went into the motion picture business and eventually became president of marketing at Tri-Star Pictures.
In 2004, he and his wife started the Tara Foundation, which rescued more than 4,000 dogs, mostly from shelters in southern California and many of them golden retrievers, and found homes for them. But if there was a dog that was too old or infirm to be adopted, the Rosenfelts kept and cared for it, and it wasn’t unusual for them to have two or three dozen at their home at the same time.
Rosenfelt said he and his wife didn’t really like living in the Los Angeles area and had always known they would come back east. So, seven years ago they moved with their rescue dogs to their new home on Damariscotta Lake.
Rosenfelt chronicled that journey in his hilarious and heartwarming 2013 book, “Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure.”
“Maine is just great; I can’t believe how far it’s surpassed our expectations,” he said.
He and his wife currently have 18 dogs, six of them golden retrievers.
People often assume that with that that many dogs, their home is a raucous madhouse. But, because most of the dogs are well past their prime, Rosenfelt said they sleep much of the time, so the place often looks like “a Civil War battlefield, with bodies lying everywhere.”
That is until the FedEx truck comes up the drive.
“Then it sounds like a fox hunt in here.”
For the most part, the plots of the Andy Carpenter mysteries don’t center on dogs. But the book titles — such as “Unleashed,” “Collared,” and “Play Dead” — suggest that they do play a role, if only a minor one.
Rosenfelt said he has another Andy Carpenter book coming out next summer and, just last week, he agreed to write “another Christmas Andy” for next year.
“Each book does better in terms of the size of readership than the one before it, so there’s no reason to stop,” he said.
Rosenfelt also has written seven stand-alone thrillers and has another one coming out in March.
“Those are much harder for me to write; it’s not even close,” he said. “They are more like real writing. With Andy, it’s just like me talking.”
When the phone interview was interrupted by the sound of dogs barking, Rosenfelt explained:
“That’s three dogs wrestling,” he said. “We have a Newfie, a mastiff and a pit bull mix. They’re young dogs, for us, and they wrestle 24/7.”
As with most popular authors, he gets a lot of emails from fans, especially when a new book is published.
“What I really like is when people write and tell me that because of what they’ve read in the books, they’ve gone out and rescued a senior dog or something like that. That’s really cool.”
The Murder by the Book festival includes events Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27.
In addition to Rosenfelt, participating authors include Brenda Buchanan, Dorothy Cannell, Richard Cass, Bruce Coffin, Stephanie Gayle, Vaughn Hardacker, James Hayman, Lynne Raimondo, Nicole Seavey, Jane Sloven, Julia Spencer-Fleming and James Ziskin.
On Friday night at 5:30 p.m., all of the authors will gather at a special reception and a few will read from their works-in-progress. Tickets to this event are $25 each and can be purchased at the Jesup or online at the Jesup’s website.
Friday night’s event also includes a murder mystery. “When you buy a ticket, you will get a packet of information as well as hints to clue stations, which are at businesses around town,” event organizers said. “For every place you visit you will get another clue to help you find out who the killer is. That night, each attendee can guess who the murderer is and then see the whole play acted out by members of Acadia Community Theatre.” One person who correctly guesses the murderer will win gift basket full of books and more.
Beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27 the authors begin a full day of talks and book signings with a keynote speech with David Rosenfelt at noon.
Those planning to attend Rosenfelt’s talk may order lunch from Peekytoe Provisions or Epi’s and have their lunches delivered during the talk.
Contact [email protected] or visit jesuplibrary.org/mbtb.