“The Twelve Dogs of Christmas: an Andy Carpenter Mystery” (Minotaur), by David Rosenfelt

David Rosenfelt is known for his legal thrillers filled with wry humor. His latest, “The Twelve Dogs of Christmas,” is heartwarming and ingeniously plotted.

Andy Carpenter is a criminal defense attorney. He rarely takes cases, having inherited a fortune from his father. But Carpenter loves dogs, so he’s eager to help a woman who’s known as “Pups” because she takes care of abandoned puppies. Pups’ problem? A newcomer to her neighborhood has complained to the local zoning board that she has more dogs than are allowed per household.

With his characteristically hilarious courtroom performance, Carpenter shows the absurdity of the regulation and gets her a waiver to keep the puppies. Within a few hours, the newcomer is found murdered and Pups is arrested. She was seen running from his house, and the gun that killed him is found in her basement.

Carpenter believes Pups was framed, and he vows to find out how and why. But he has to hurry because Pups has terminal cancer.

The familiar characters that liven up the series are present in “The Twelve Dogs of Christmas.” Carpenter’s endearing first-person narrative moves the story along with just the right mixture of humor and suspense.