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VOL. 129 | NO. 104 | Thursday, May 29, 2014

Vic Fleming

New Rosenfelt Novel Delivers

By Vic Fleming

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David Rosenfelt has done it again! Kept me in my chair for two whole hours, that is. Once I got to page 100 of “Without Warning,” I had to just go ahead and finish it. You know, to see how it would end.

“Without Warning” is a stand-alone – no Andy Carpenter, no Laurie, no Edna, no Marcus, etc. There’s one reference to a crossword puzzle, but it’s sarcastic/facetious, so it hardly counts.

New Englander Jason “Jake” Robbins, an Afghanistan War vet, is the police chief in the small town of Wilton, Maine. Jake’s not unlike Andy Carpenter, what with his self-deprecation, one-liners, sophomoric excitement about sex, and sarcastic crossword references – uh, reference.

Jake faces the most bizarre serial killer conundrum that can be imagined. But try to imagine it anyway: Wilton buried a time capsule four years ago. It’s scheduled to be dug up in 46 more years. In it, along with artifacts of the town, are 18 sets of predictions by various townspeople regarding how life will be in the future. As the town is being hit by a hurricane, the North Dam breaks, flooding areas near the capsule’s burial plot.

Reporter Matt Higgins, who works for the newspaper owned by Katie Sanford, says people are worried about the capsule. The decision is made to dig it up for inspection, see if the contents got soaked. As workers unearth the capsule, they discover a skeleton buried with it.

Enter Jake. Who must work with Katie, as inspecting the capsule’s contents is now part of a murder investigation. Are there complications with these two working together — beyond the fact that one represents law enforcement and the other the Fourth Estate? You bet there are, and I won’t spoil that part of the plot.

Turns out, though, that the capsule contains a mysterious 19th set of predictions. Which appear to correlate with homicides, starting with the guy whose bones were on the capsule. And including Jake’s wife and Katie’s husband, whose deaths were more than a little related. And, oh yeah, an insurance agent who crashed his car a day ago. And someone named William who’s “collected his last six percent” (could he be in real estate?), someone who “talked himself to death” (salesman, lawyer, talk-show host?), and other cryptically described people who, presumably, are still alive.

What do these dying people have in common? Who has had motive and opportunity to kill them? What does all this have to do with Jake? With Katie? With the long-term health and safety of New England itself? What role might there be for the FBI – hey, a Rosenfelt book without the Bureau is like a day without sunshine, no?

To answer those questions, you’ll have to acquire the book and give it a read.

Online reviews range from two thumbs up to not so much. If you’re a Rosenfelt fan, you’ll probably like “Without Warning” – unless you’re exclusively an Andy Carpenter fan; and if you’re one of those, be advised that the latest Andy book, “Hounded,” is due out in July.

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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