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VOL. 127 | NO. 47 | Thursday, March 08, 2012

Vic Fleming

Viewer Faults Columnist For New Habits

By Vic Fleming

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I can’t stop reading “Lio.” Even though it’s the unfunniest funny ever. Today, Lio sees the newspaper boy’s satchel abandoned on the sidewalk. In panel two Lio is visibly shocked, looking at something we can’t see. Panel three shows Lio in the vet’s waiting room with a dragon, whose bloated shape suggests that he’s eaten the newspaper boy.

David Rosenfelt’s ninth Andy Carpenter novel, “One Dog Night” (2011), has Andy representing a recovering addict, the original owner of Andy’s beloved dog, Tara. He’s charged in a six-year-old mass murder-by-arson case that Andy’s cop buddy Pete was never able to crack.

To muddy the waters, the defendant confesses, even though he’d have been insane to attempt the crime. In typical Rosenfelt fashion, the reader must navigate conspiracy, FBI involvement, collateral damage (including a decapitation and several murders along the way) and 1,000 new one-liners (three per page, easy, and they’re really not all new). There’s also a crooked civil court judge, to say nothing of road trips to Dover, Las Vegas and Dallas.

2012 is shaping up as a banner year for viewer mail. First off, I received a note from, of all people, David Rosenfelt, who read the article about Ozzie the three-legged hound dog screening a raccoon in Davidson, N.C.:

“Great story about Ozzie. We’ve had a bunch of three-legged dogs; it’s amazing how quickly they adjust and live totally normal lives. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that there’s no psychological component to the disability for them.”

Melanie Yelder wrote, “Enjoyed this piece. Proud to read it in a paper in my adopted city of Nashville, given that I am a Bowen School of Law Alum.” She recommended I read a 1961 children’s book, “Phantom of the Tollbooth” by Norton Juster. It’ll have to wait behind the four Rosenfelt non-Andy novels (Rosenfelt fans, do not miss today’s “I Swear Crossword!”).

Don Yarbrough of Cumberland Furnace, Tenn., writes, “I really enjoy working your crossword puzzles, which appear in The Nashville Ledger. Thanks so much for creating interesting and challenging puzzles, different from the ordinary.”

Jerry Brumbaugh of Germantown writes:

“It’s all your fault. When the “I Swear Crossword” started appearing in The Memphis News I started working it since I’m a puzzle nut. Then ‘She who must be obeyed’ turned up as an answer … and I was hooked. … Rumpole is one of my favorites. I’ve read all the Rumpole books and have the complete set of the video series … .

“Then I started reading your column and have to make a special trip to Kroger each Monday so I can get a copy of the News before they all disappear. Now, of course, I’m hooked on David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter stories. The driving, first person, narrative along with the constant gags (‘They’re from really old money, so old they call it wampum’) keep me chuckling … . I just finished ‘Open and Shut’ in one day, and I’m off to the library for several of the later books tomorrow. Does Judge Hatchet Henderson remind you of anyone?

“Like I said, it IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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