The Adventures of Chet and Bernie

Spencer Quinn’s Paw and Order is the seventh installment in the Chet and Bernie mystery series. I’ve been a fan since the first book (Dog On It, 2009), and I read them as soon as I get my hands on them—no time on the To Be Read shelf for Chet and Bernie.

Paw and Order QuinnBernie Little is the head (and sole proprietor) of the Little Detective Agency, but the books are narrated by Chet, a one-hundred-pound-plus black and white dog of indeterminate breed, who came into Bernie’s world after flunking out of K9 training on the very last day (“There was a cat involved,” Chet remembers). Chet has a wonderful personality, alert, perceptive, and devoted to Bernie (the best human in the world), but he is also Everydog, prone to naps and impulsive barking, and easily distracted by a stray piece of bacon or a forgotten French fry (Squirrel!).

Through the first few books, the reader knows only that Chet and Bernie operate in The Valley, an unidentified area in the Southwest, where they run into a wide variety of perps (many of them, according to Chet, now wearing an orange jumpsuit or breaking rocks in the hot sun). They deal with missing teens (Dog On It), a pampered show dog (Thereby Hangs a Tail), a traveling circus (To Fetch a Thief), another missing child (The Dog Who Knew Too Much), and a visiting movie company (A Fistful of Collars). In last year’s installment, The Sound and the Furry, Chet and Bernie visit the Louisiana bayou country, where Chet meets an alligator and we learn that The Valley is in Arizona.

In Paw and Order, Bernie decides to make a detour to Washington DC to visit his girlfriend, Suzie Sanchez, a newspaper reporter. When one of Suzie’s sources is murdered and Bernie is framed for the crime, Chet is on the case. Along the way they meet government agents, foreign spies, a possible presidential candidate, Washington insiders, a strange bird with no feathers, and a guinea pig named Barnum.

Quinn has also written short stories to fill in a few of the incidents that Chet refers to now and then. In A Cat Was Involved, we finally learn exactly what happened on that fateful day when Chet somehow failed his final K9 Tail of Vengeanceleaping test (despite leaping being one of his best things) but met Bernie as a result. In The Iggy Chronicles, Volume 1, Chet and Bernie search for Chet’s missing BFF (best furry friend) Iggy, the dog next door. This year’s story, Tail of Vengeance, is waiting on my Kindle (how did I forget that? Was there possibly a cat involved?). It’s raining this morning—I think I’ll stretch out and read about the Teitelbaum case, one of those “stories for another time” that Chet so often mentions.

And then, alas, I’ll have to wait another year for a Chet and Bernie story. Or maybe I’ll just reread the whole series. Meanwhile, catch Chet’s doggy musings at Chet The Dog.

Another Box of Books

When I got home from work last night, I found a lovely box of books on my doorstep. Now, you might think, with all the (mostly free) books I brought home from the RWA conference, that I wouldn’t need to be book shopping again any time soon. (Well, no, if you stop by here often, you wouldn’t think that at all.)

most books 2Ha! I always need books. I’m a book junkie. And the August release of books in two series that I never miss sent me mousing over to Amazon a couple of weeks ago to order them: Paw And Order, the latest Chet and Bernie mystery from Spencer Quinn, and Death, Taxes, and Silver Spurs, the latest adventure of Tara Holloway, Diane Kelly’s intrepid (and armed) IRS Special Agent. Chet, Bernie, and Tara are among my very favorite book people (well, Chet’s a dog, but he’s still a favorite character) and I never miss their stories.

As long as I was there (and making sure to order enough for free shipping—I have yet to succumb to the lures of Amazon Prime, for fear I would never be able to tear myself away from all those videos), I ordered Kate Parker’s The Counterfeit Lady (the second installment in the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries) and Lauren Christopher’s The Red Bikini, a contemporary romance set on a California beach.

I’d heard through the RWA grapevine that the writers who went to Lisa Cron’s workshop were raving about it, and about her book, Wired for Story, so I ordered that, too. Haven’t cracked it yet, but a friend who has been reading it assures me that she’s gotten a lot of ideas from it. The subtitle, The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence, is a bit intimidating (Brain Science? Really?), but I’m always up for a few nuggets of inspiration.

I wanted one more book from a series I’ve loved since its beginning, Marcia Muller’s The Night Searchers, the latest Sharon McCone mystery, but when I pulled it up on Amazon, it was listed at full price and with a possible two-week delay. Aha—published by Grand Central and caught in the ongoing feud between Amazon and Hachette.

So I moused on over to the Mystery Guild. I’ve belonged to the Mystery Guild and the Science Fiction Book Club since the pre-Internet days of the early 1970s, when I lived in a small town in Louisiana, thirty miles from the nearest book store (and short of money at that). Over at the Mystery Guild, I not only found The Night Searchers, but they were running a sale, so I preordered another series favorite, Margaret Maron’s latest Deborah Knott mystery, Designated Daughters, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ new release, Heroes Are my Weakness.

Then last weekend I went to a West Houston RWA meeting and bought three new books by chapter sisters: Sophie Jordan’s A Good Debutante’s Guide to Ruin (first in a new historical romance series), Shana Galen’s Love and Let Spy (third in the Lord and Lady Spy trilogy), and Heather MacAllister’s Taken By Storm (Harlequin Blaze romance).

Clearly, I’m still devoted to the paper book, but I’ve added several novels to my Kindle since the conference, too, some by friends, some through BookBub (even more temptation than the Kindle Daily Deal!). As soon as I find another day or two in the week to devote to reading, I’ll put up some more reviews.

Meanwhile, what are you reading?

Abibliophobia

Recent Reading

This evening I finished reading The Sound and the Furry, the sixth Chet and Bernie mystery by Spencer Quinn.  I enjoy this series so much that I went to my local Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago looking for the latest installment, and it did not disappoint.  The mysteries are always interesting, but the real charm of the books is their narrator, Chet, the canine half of the Little Detective Agency (Bernie Little being the human partner).  Chet’s interpretation of what’s going on is often hilarious, but clearly Bernie couldn’t have a better partner.  Open the book just about anywhere and you’ll find Chet’s take on Bernie (who can do no wrong), humans in general, and the joys of being a dog.

The Sound and the FurryHere’s an example:  “Batshit crazy,” Scooter said, hanging me up right there,  The night a bat flew into the house, back in the Leda days, and Bernie chasing after it with a broom, swatting and swatting the air!  Had I ever been more excited in my life?  The screams of Leda’s: I can still hear them.  Had the bat left any poop behind?  Would I have missed something like that? Does the bear shit in the woods?  That was too much.  I lost the thread completely.

Chet loses the thread quite often, distracted by a stray bit of bacon or an equally stray memory, but he always comes through for Bernie.  In The Sound and the Furry, the partners leave their Arizona home territory for a trip to Louisiana, where Chet enjoys some fascinating new smells and has a close encounter with an alligator.

Another mystery series I am enjoying comes from my friend Susan M. Boyer.  Last year Susan’s Lowcountry Boil won the Lowcountry BombshellAgatha Award for best first mystery.  Lowcountry Bombshell, the second adventure of South Carolina private investigator Liz Talbot, is, if anything, even better, involving a client who appears to be Marilyn Monroe’s doppelganger.  Calista McQueen was born exactly fifty years after Marilyn, and her life has mirrored the late actress’ in too many ways.  As she approaches the anniversary of Marilyn’s death, it becomes Liz’s job to make sure Calista doesn’t become a dead ringer.   By the time she reaches a solution, Liz finds herself in as much danger as Calista.

The Lowcountry mysteries are set on the coastal island of Stella Maris, populated with Liz’s family and friends (including one occasionally helpful ghost), and reading them is like going home with Liz for a visit.  I recommend them highly.  And if you like cozy mysteries, check out the rest of the Henery Press catalog.

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