Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Review: Chet and Bernie Mystery Series by Spencer Quinn - DOG ON IT is Must Reading



I was not looking for anything in particular when I walked into the half price book store near my home earlier this summer. I was just looking around. Book window shopping. My eyes have a tendency to gravitate toward historical non-fiction, particularly anything to do with the years between the French-Indian War through Thomas Jefferson's second term, the Civil War and World War II. I've been groundswelled for years now in non-fiction reading treats.

I rarely go back to fiction, even though I spent a near lifetime loving good fiction. The problem is today - it is hard to find good fiction writing. It just is. I read a great deal and basically am not motivated to post reviews that dump all over bad writing, bad storytelling and everything else that goes with something I have no desire to write about.

Back to my jaunt into the half price bookstore. My eyes landed on the cover of Dog On It. I like dogs. I love dogs. They are a wonderful gift from God to humankind. I have a tendency to like books about dogs. Fiction and non-fiction tales/tails - doesn't matter.  I have waxed on about some of my favorite "dog" books on this site, but this dog book led me down a different adventure. Dog On It was not a stand alone book. It turned out it was just the first in a series of Chet and Bernie mysteries. Bernie Little of the Little Detective Agency is a human and Chet is his partner. Chet handles smells and security and way more.

Chet is funny, intuitive, observant and spot-on pretty brilliant. The dog narrator of The Art of Racing in the Rain is Enzo. Enzo had me wailing by the final pages of that perfect piece of fiction, but here we have another lovable character narrating a book. Chet is "somedog" you want to spend time with. He brings you insights and laughs.

If you have spent any time around any dog you will appreciate the wisdom Chet brings to the world. Early on in the first book, Dog On It, he discusses some communication with a neighbor dog, the aging Iggy.

"I barked back. There was a brief silence and then he barked again. I barked back. He barked. I barked. He barked. I barked. He barked. We got a good rhythm going, faster and faster. I barked. He barked. I----"
         
Yep, that's the dog's life. I literally have been laughing out loud at some of his insights. He loves to ride shotgun. He questions the average human regarding whether they know much about science and then says "honest now." He's sick of people picking on his mismatched ears. He takes things literally. Hey, he's a dog, so if you are going to bring up an adage like "going on a wild goose chase" be prepared for him to exclaim a wild goose chase!!! I've never been on one. I want to go on a wild goose chase!!! Of course he does and I do too if Chet is going with me.

Chet drives the story. He is the ultimate narrator. Another good thing about Dog On It: It lacks the extreme violence of what passes for fictional mystery in 2014, but the real appeal here is the superb writing of author Spencer Quinn. Near brilliant writing and a character that could have hung out with the great Warner Bros. players from the 1940's films - think Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains. Chet would have fit right in.

Dog On It is a also touching reflection of the relationships good and decent humans have with their dogs. Chet loves Bernie. Pure and simple. He loves him. Spencer Quinn has renewed my fondness for wonderful fiction. I thank this man for giving me back a desire to read fiction and not just as a one-off. May Quinn continue and may Chet and Bernie live long lives!

Read Dog On It! I love Chet the dog!! Whether you like dogs or not, you will enjoy this dog-centric way of thinking. Chet narrates the book, but if you like dogs you will appreciate the knowledge, wisdom and humor that comes forth from his mind. Good boy!

The second best book in the series is A Fistful of Collars. This fifth entry comes closest to Dog On It. A Fistful of Collars offers up some of the best Chet-isms of all. The mysteries aren't all that memorable, but Chet sure is.  Read On - Read Now.

Copyright Read On Read Now 2014