Every time I visit Sandmeyer's Bookstore in Chicago, I have a ball talking to the owner, Ellen, and letting her recommend her favorite books to me. The two of us move through the store, pointing out this or that with commentary, and every shelf or two I grab something. On my last visit, she pointed to this book and said "Oh this one is hilarious! It is a mystery narrated by a dog." My first reaction was to repel in horror. Another "Racing in the Rain" to rip my heart out! Ellen assured me that no, the dog does not die. The dog will make you laugh.
As it turns out, this is the first of a series of four books that involve Chet and his P.I. master Bernie.
Synopsis: Chet and Bernie are a team, through thick and thin. Bernie is a recently divorced, down-on-his-luck private eye who is struggling to make ends meet. Chet is his dog who brings lots of skills to the relationship. He is an (almost) certified K-9 dog, a great jumper, loves to ride shotgun in Bernie's beat-up old Porsche, and is Bernie's biggest fan.
One day Bernie is approached by a distressed woman whose 15 year-old daughter has gone missing. After a short period of time, Bernie is reassured that the girl has been located in Las Vegas and will be coming home soon, but something doesn't feel right. Too much trouble has been happening to Bernie and Chet in the form of the girl's smarmy real estate father and some Russian mobsters. The Bernie/Chet team is like a dog with a bone (ha) and refuses to rest until the details are nailed down and the girl is home safe.
My thoughts: Ellen was right, this book was hilarious. The entire story is narrated by Chet. So we only know what Chet hears in conversations around him or what Bernie tells him. Sometimes Chet will take a nap, go to the groomer's, or get lost in a rawhide chew, and in those cases, we might miss out on a few things. Which is part of the fun. The dog has a great attitude, ready to bite the leg of a bad guy, responds to anyone who will scratch behind his ears or give him treats, and is a loyal friend.
The mystery at hand is not all that complicated, with Russian mobsters being almost stereotypical antagonists, but that is not why we are here. We are here because in the first 30 pages we fall in love with Chet. He makes you want a dog just like him because he is funny and cool and unashamed of his doggy impulses. It is obvious to me that the author knows his canines well. Will this clever hook in telling a cozy mystery get old? Well, the pressure is on Quinn's shoulders.
Without a doubt I will be reading the rest of the series, to see if he is up to the challenge!
4 out of 5 stars