Sunday, August 14, 2011

BOOKS: Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

I hate cats. Yet, I read mysteries involving cats and enjoy them for the most part (Carole Nelson Douglas and Lillian Jackson Braun produce good mysteries that employ felines). I have pined for a long time for authors to get with it, and produce the like for man's best friend, dogs.
Thank you Spencer Quinn. You've produced the doggie equivalent of Douglas's Midnight Louie series. Dog On It is the first of the Chet and Bernie books. And I loved every doggone page of it.
Like the Midnight Louie books, this book is largely told from the viewpoint of the animal, Chet in this case. Chet's just your typical mutt--friendly, adoring, ever-interested in food, gifted with an ability to forget just about anything in seconds and willing to put the bite on bad-doers at the say-so of his partner, down-in-his-luck P.I. Bernie. He'll freely admit that Bernie's the brains of the outfit, but deep down he knows Bernie couldn't get by without his treat-loving, dropped food-chomping partner.
Food takes up a lot of Chet's thoughts. And his memories. Outside of Bernie and his son, and next door neighbour Iggy, if Bernie remembers anything, it's food-related. And since this book is narrated from Chet's point of view, let's just say food gets lot of focus. Or at least what passes for food in Chet's hardly picky world.
Bernie's a little bit lonely and mostly down in the dumps. He's divorced and doesn't see his son Charlie nearly enough for his liking. He's so mopey, he doesn't even see a good thing when she comes around. Glad to see Suzie Sanchez rectified that in a later book.
Bernie thinks of Chet as a partner. In fact, he frequently forgets his partner is a dog. He goes in places and Chet follows him in. If anybody questions why they should be letting the K9-unit drop out into their place, Bernie always points out he's already in. Bernie doesn't sweat the small stuff much.
Since this IS a mystery, there's a few to occupy Bernie's mind, and thereby Chet's.  He almost needs mysteries and a little work to get him up sometime in the morning.
A missing persons case eventually turns into a Chet-missing case too. Chet basically has to rescue himself and re-unite with Bernie to make things all right in the end. And, while I paint a picture of a hunger-addled mind at work when Chet thinks, he has his moments too. There's a scene about a drunken Bernie teaching Chet what to do if ever encountering a mountain lion. "Stay Chet stay." Which led to my favourite line from the book when just an encounter occurred. "I trusted Bernie, believed every single thing he’d ever told me. I turned and ran."
Tail-thumping is good in Chet's world. This one rates about five thumps.

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