Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

Title: Dog On It
Author: Spencer Quinn
ISBN: 9781416585831/ Atria Books, 2009
Genre: P.I., #1 Chet & Bernie mystery
Rating: B+

First Line: I could smell him--or rather the booze on his breath--before he even opened the door, but my sense of smell is pretty good, probably better than yours.

I'd better get this off my chest first: when I was little, I'd never miss an episode of "Lassie" on television, even though Mom would make remarks about Lassie coming in to spell H-E-L-P in the mashed potatoes. I've been all grown up now (at least physically) for quite some time, and once I put childish things aside, I've never been a fan of talking animal books. Perhaps I'm entering my second childhood, but now I find myself a fan of a talking dog, and his name is Chet. (Actually he never does "talk"...he just thinks really loud.)

After a run-in with a cat, Chet flunked K-9 school and now finds himself a partner in the Little Detective Agency. Life with private investigator Bernie Little is tops in Chet's book, and when divorcee Cynthia Chambliss hires Bernie to find her missing fifteen-year-old daughter Madison, Chet is ready to get to work.

Although Quinn never comes right out and tells us where the book is set, he mentions saguaro cacti a few times, so that does an excellent job of narrowing down the location. Chet and Bernie are in Arizona. (Probably Phoenix after reading Bernie's comments about the growth of the city.) Told entirely from Chet's point of view, I enjoyed this book immensely--and not just because of Chet. Bernie is a very strong character, too, with his own highly developed smarts and his views on the environment. One of the pleasures of reading Dog On It was seeing everything from a canine perspective and wondering how the author would work those clues so that Bernie could pick them up and go to work on them himself. (Unlike Lassie, Chet can't leave messages in the spuds.)

Strong characters, a fast-paced engrossing plot, and the added bonus of seeing everything from a very different perspective makes this debut a fun read.

There has been quite a lot of speculation about author Spencer Quinn's true identity. Sarah Weinman seems to have figured it out. Chet also seems to be turning into quite the celebrity. He has his own blog, you can find him on Twitter, and he has his own Facebook page.

Here's to many more mysterious adventures with Chet and Bernie!


  1. I believe you that this book is good. I'm not quite sure if it's for me.

  2. If you like dog books (but not necessarily talking dog books), try "A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me" by Jon Katz. I challege you to try to get through it without crying several times. And make sure you get the paperback with the updated "afterward" section.

  3. Or maybe it's "A Good Dog" -- the sequel -- that has the afterward. Anyway, very absorbing and tearjerkering. I think I still have my copies (or can get them back from whomever I lent them to) if you'd like me to send them to you.

  4. I know a lot of people are put off when animals think in books, but I love it! This book sounds good to me.

  5. Beth--I completely understand what you're saying! LOL

    BikerPup--I may have to look into these sometime in the future. I'm not quite in the mood for having a box of Kleenex by my elbow at the moment! :)

    Kathy--I think it's all in the way that it's done. Some authors employ this, and it's just too twee for words. Others can pull it off very successfully, like Quinn.


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