Review of “Santa’s Little Yelpers” by David Rosenfelt 

This is #26 in the Andy Carpenter crime/legal procedural series that always manages to get me laughing out loud in spite of brutal and complex crimes.

Andy thinks of himself as a retired lawyer, but when a case comes along that somehow involves a dog, he can’t resist getting involved, as much as he pretends he doesn’t want to. In this instance, Andy is asked to help Chris Myers, an employee at Andy’s Tara Foundation for dog rescue. Chris is a former attorney who served a two-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter. He wants to be exonerated and Andy agrees to help him. After all, Chris has just agreed to foster a new litter of eight puppies, or “Santa’s Little Yelpers,” in honor of the Christmas season.

Chris claims he did not commit the crime for which he served time, and indeed, as the series progresses, Andy seems to be specializing in defending people who had been framed. (Or one could also conclude in New Jersey, a lot of innocent people are framed.). Chris informed Andy that the key witness against him two years before recently told Chris he was paid to lie, and he was willing to recant as long as it could be kept confidential.

Alas, the witness, Charlie Burgess, abruptly cancelled his scheduled recanting. Chris went to see him to find out why, and perhaps convince him otherwise. While Chris was at Charlie’s house, however, Charlie was shot in the head with a bullet that came from outside. Chris, scared and worried he would be blamed at the least, or at worst, killed also, ran out of the house. He was sighted by neighbors, and before Andy could even get started on Chris’s exoneration for his old crime, he was accused of this new murder.

Clearly something deeper and more sinister is going on, and Andy and his crew are determined to find out what. They suspect it all has something to do with Chris’s former law cases, and they set out to investigate some of the dodgier clients Chris handled before his conviction.

As the investigation proceeds, Andy uncovers a convoluted plot of corruption and of course also has his own life threatened. As usual, he is saved by his much braver wife Laurie and Laurie’s muscle, the always amusing, albeit usually taciturn and unintelligible Marcus. But can Andy save Chris? It’s up to the jury, and the outcome is unclear until the very end.

Evaluation: I look forward to new entries in this series, which, by the way, you don’t really need to read in the order they were written. Andy’s sarcasm and wit are unfailingly entertaining, as are his relationships with the rest of his team. I also appreciate the way he presents legal principles and complicated crimes in a way even I can follow. For a quick, diverting read that challenges you at the same time, you can’t go wrong with David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2022

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