by ZJ Czupor

A Funny Author with a Big Heart

He’s a successful mystery author you may never have heard of. An ordinary guy with a great sense of humor and an even bigger heart.

After he graduated from New York University, he decided to work in the film business. He claims that after a brilliant interview at United Artists, he was
hired—even though he interviewed with his uncle, who was president of United Artists. He worked his way up in the business and became president of marketing for Tri-Star Pictures.

After leaving the corporate world, in the nineties, he wrote screenplays. He sold ten feature scripts and eight TV movies. Unfortunately, none of the features were made, but three were produced for TV. In an interview in Criminal Element magazine he said, “It’s fair to say that they did not have a great impact on American culture.”

One of his “spec scripts” was called “Snapshot,” –a legal drama starring Andy Carpenter, a wise-ass lawyer from Paterson, NJ, who also loved dogs. But no studio wanted it.

A year later, actress Tyne Daly read his script and wanted to play Andy Carpenter, but only if he would change the character to an overweight woman named Andrea. He claims no artistic integrity and agreed. Even with Tyne Daly attached, all the networks turned it down.

Eighteen months later, his script gained new life when actress Cheryl Ladd fell in love with it. After he met with her, he deleted all the overweight jokes. Even with Cheryl Ladd attached, the networks, again, passed. He said, “A pattern was forming. If God had come down and ordered the networks to make this movie, I believe they would have refused.”

A few years later he decided to write a novel—a courtroom drama, starring his character Andy Carpenter. He made some changes to his original script, including the title which went from “Snapshot” to “Open and Shut.” The process—from gathering dust in a drawer to agent—took about six weeks.

That debut novel, Open and Shut (Grand Central Publishing, 2002) was a page-turning finalist for the Edgar Award and won the Shamus Award for best first novel. Publisher’s Weekly called Open and Shut an homage to Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series of mysteries with his self-deprecating sense of humor.

He’s gone on to become a national best-selling author with 21 novels in this series which features his main character Andy Carpenter. He’s been called a cozy mystery author who laces his work with humor and animals—but with some adult scenes and language. He’s also written six stand-alone mysteries and three novels, a spin-off series from Andy Carpenter; and three nonfiction books.

When he started dating his soon-to-be wife, she had a Golden Retriever named Tara which he fell in love with. After Tara passed, they started the Tara Foundation, named in honor of their Golden Retriever. They rescued almost 4,000 dogs, many of them Goldens, and found them loving homes. He said their own home quickly became a sanctuary for those dogs that were too old or sickly to be wanted by others.

He lives in Maine with his wife and an ever-changing number of rescue dogs—from twenty to a high of forty-two, and many which share their bed. He says, “The trick is for us to pretend we’re out camping, and think of it all as communing with nature.” He even wrote a book titled, “Lessons from Tara: Life Advice from the World’s Most Brilliant Dog (St. Martin’s Press, 2015).

The author’s name? David Rosenfelt. His newest Andy Carpenter novel, a Christmas-themed mystery is Dachshund Through the Snow.

And, that’s your Mystery Minute.