‘Santa’s Little Yelpers’ by David Rosenfelt is a mystery which provides plenty of suspects in addition to the plethora of puppies

True to form, “Santa’s Little Yelpers” features not only a myriad of doggie characters, but also David Rosenfelt’s favorite wants-to-be-retired lawyer, Andy Carpenter. This is the 26th mystery featuring that self-deprecating, wise-cracking, extremely dog-loving attorney who really doesn’t want to work anymore. Most of the mysteries in this series are more thriller than legal procedural, with a hefty dose of humor on the side, and in this novel we meet a former lawyer, Chris Myers, wrongly incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he is being accused of another crime, a murder, that he also didn’t commit. And just as in many of the mysteries in this series, Andy Carpenter must begin the trial for this defendant with no idea of how he will prove his client is not guilty.

Just when it looks like the trial will be a slam-dunk for the prosecution, new readers will learn what we faithful readers already know, that clever Andy and his team will uncover the real dastardly perpetrators of the vicious crime(s) in question. In this novel, there are several murders that must be solved. And Andy’s client, who is obviously a good guy because he was fostering a mama dog and her litter of puppies before his arrest, had motive and opportunity to commit the murder in question.

Things don’t look good for Chris Myers, who had been incarcerated for involuntary manslaughter. It’s a charge that he insists was completely fabricated and the only witness lied about it. He doesn’t know why the witness lied. But when the witness contacts him and says he wants to recant his former testimony, that might mean Chris can get the conviction overturned and work as an attorney again. It won’t give him back the year of time he spent in jail, but it’s a small step in the right direction for his future.

Unfortunately, before the witness officially recants, he tells Chris that he’s changed his mind. He’s obviously frightened about something, and when Chris goes to talk to him, he’s literally inside the house with the witness when someone, not Chris, shoots the witness dead. Chris was on the scene and had told people how angry he was about the witness’s wavering, so he’s the logical culprit. It’s not going to be easy to absolve Chris of the murder. But Andy Carpenter and his talented (and always funny) team are on the job.

When they discover that a known mob boss, a pastor, and a university professor are involved in the shady goings on in the small town of Metuska, they are at a loss to figure out what might be happening and how the murders might be connected. The dead include the son of the mob boss, another university professor, the man Chris is accused of accidentally killing, and the supposed witness to the killing. Will Andy be able to figure it all out before the jury gets the case? (Of course, we know the tremendously talented Carpenter will not let an innocent man be wrongly convicted. There are dogs involved, for heaven’s sake!)

Happy endings abound, and we know that Andy Carpenter will continue on solving mysteries and not enjoying a well-deserved retirement. We also know that both the fictional Andy Carpenter and his real-life author David Rosenfelt will continue to rescue dogs in need. Rosenfelt and his wife have rescued over 4000 dogs, and there is no evidence that they are slowing down. While it helps to love dogs when reading Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series, it’s certainly not required. Universally exciting and ultimately happy times for all are inevitable. The previous book in the series is “Holy Chow.”

This review was first posted on Bookreporter.com.