“Dog On It” is the first novel in a series written by Spencer Quinn. The series is known as the Chet and Bernie Mysteries.
At a glance, it might seem like a run-of-the-mill mystery novel, but that notion is soon dispelled by the disclosure that Chet is a dog. Bernie Little runs the Little Detective Agency and is aided in his investigations by his dog, Chet. What sets these novels apart even further is that they are told from the perspective of Chet. And Chet is an especially fine narrator.
I bought this first book on a whim. I’ve read other books written from an animal’s perspective and not been all that impressed. The first few paragraphs in “Dog On It” had me hooked.
In this first adventure, Chet and Bernie investigate the disappearance of Madison, a teenage girl who may or may not have been kidnapped. Bernie is quick to take the case due to a cash flow problem that Chet doesn’t entirely understand. There is actually a lot that Chet doesn’t understand about the human world but that is what makes him so charming. Through Chet, Quinn helps us to see what is both wonderful and ridiculous about the human condition.
In the course of the investigation, Chet gets into some trouble that had me so worried for him that I almost put the book down. But I stuck it out and Quinn pulled Chet out of the metaphorical fire with finesse.
Quinn’s character, Bernie, is a likable, straight-forward kind of guy who doesn’t have a clue about a lot of things but is a great investigator. But it really is Chet who steals the show with his canine practicality and insight.
Quinn is a great storyteller. And he has a deep understanding of dogs that clearly comes through in his writing. I don’t currently have every one of the Chet and Bernie Mysteries, but I’m sure that eventually I will. Every one that I have read has been an absolute delight.
I think Stephen King may have said it best:
“Spencer Quinn speaks two languages – suspense and dog – fluently. Sometimes funny, sometimes, touching, and in a few places terrifying. Dog On It has got more going for it than fifty of those cat cozies. The best thing about the book is Chet, a canine Sam Spade full of joie de vivre. He’s a great character because he sums up what we all love in dogs, how they love life, and how they love us. My sincere advice to you is to rush to your nearest bookstore and put your paws on this enchanting, one-of-a-kind novel.”