Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dog On It: A Chet & Bernie Mystery by Spencer Quinn

Rating 4 out of 5

Opening sentence: "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."

Dog on it is a delightful and humourous animal detective story. This is the story of Chet the mix breed mutt whose human is Bernie the down and out PI. In their first adventure, Chet and Bernie are hired to investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl.

The story is revealed from the point of view of Chet. Anything that happened to Chet the reader knew about it for instance if Chet fell asleep, you don’t get to know what is happening, if Chet finds a particularly tasty looking chip under a piece of furniture the reader gets to know about the chip. While this may seem a random way of telling the story it works well and the author did a great job of not losing the reader. The gaps are filled in from Bernie who like most pet owners talks freely with his canine buddy about what is going on.

There is great humour in this book. I definitely had some “laugh out loud and dislodge the sleeping cat from tummy” moments (would that be LOLDSCFT?). I’m convinced that Chet has Labrador or some sort of scent dog in him as he acted exactly like every Labrador or Beagle I’ve ever known.
" 'Let’s begin by asking one simple question. Of everyone we’ve met on this whole case, from the moment Cynthia Chambliss came driving up the street, who’s the least trust worthy?'

Hey Anylizing turned out to be a snap. The answer to the least trustworthy question was obviously Cap’n Crunch; one glimpse of his tiny wicked little eyes and you knew that.”
Needles to say I loved Chet he was a great character and extremely dog like. He was random and funny; his dog perspective absolutely hilarious at times. Bernie was a fun character if a little sad. His horrible wife has left him taking their child and nearly every penny Bernie owns. He isn’t very good finances wise and has a big soft heart. Not all bad things but not great for running a business.

The best part is that Chet does not seem to have supernatural abilities, human intelligence, or a weird psychic connection with his owner who can understand dog bark. He is no Lassi or Benji. Chet is a dog, and acts like a dog. He doesn’t always understand what his owner is saying and likewise Bernie does not understand always when Chet tries to tell him something. I liked this as it is a fresh way of telling the animal PI story.

This is a delightful light read that will easily win you over. If you like cozies, PI detective stories and animal detective stories you will probably like this.

Extra Stuff
If you would like to read an extract Ullen & Unwin have a copy here.
Chet also has his own blog you can find here.

Other Reviews
Kittling Books
Not Enough Books
Books and Musings from Downunder


  1. This sounds so good! I have a copy sitting on my shelf and am anxious to read it. Thanks for the great review, Caspette!

  2. A good book for a dog lover and a mystery lover, that's me! Nice review.

  3. Thanks guys. Everyone I know who has read this has really enjoyed it.

    For the record Cap'n Crunch is a parrot :)

  4. I thought this was a great new debut mystery. 1st in a series.

  5. I checked this out from the library, can't wait to read it!

    I have an award for you, come on by & check it out:)

  6. I liked this one, too, and I'm not typically a reader of animal mysteries. That may change now...

  7. I enjoyed From Baghdad with Love when I had read it; very sweet story.