Monday 17 August 2015

The Little Detective Agency - 2 Reviews

PAW AND ORDER by Spencer Quinn.

Chet and Bernie of the Little Detective Agency travel to Washington to visit Bernie’s girlfriend Suzie Sanchez.  Hoping to smooth over some “misunderstandings” the couple are having, Bernie and Chet arrive unannounced – probably not a good thing – they arrive at Suzie’s only to discover her having an intimate looking chat with debonair Englishman, Eben St. John.  Jealousy rears its ugly head until Suzie explains that St. John is her source for an international story she is investigating.  Chet and Bernie rarely turn down a case, literally having one land in their laps while on vacation, is something they had not planned on – but how could they walk away from this one when the next day St. John turns up quite dead and Bernie’s fingerprints are all over the murder weapon?

As usual Chet is on top of things from the get go, spotting the unusual bird with the red eyes almost immediately.  It takes Bernie a little longer to catch up … of course having landed in jail didn’t help.

Also, as usual Chet the dog narrates this 7th installment in the Chet and Bernie Mystery series and as usual he “is not the most reliable of narrators”.  As quick as he is about noticing clues he is just as quick to get sidetracked and lose his train of thought. 

I have enjoyed this series from the time I read “Dog On It”.  Admittedly at first I thought it was a novel idea to have the dog as the narrator and found the story entertaining enough, but rated it only as “Like it”.  Many series start to lose steam as the author continues to pump out story after story, but Mr. Quinn’s books seem to do the opposite.  I find they are becoming more interesting as the series progresses.  Is this just because I am totally enamored of Chet?  Possibly!  But they are still a fun read with a more than decent story line. 


Happy to be home after their long road trip, Bernie and Chet are looking forward to some down time. Chet, as usual whenever he reenters the house begins his sniff and search – just to make sure everything is at it should be.  Bernie is a little confused when Chet begins clawing at the wall in is office, until further investigation shows his wall safe has been removed, and with it, his prized possission – his grandfather’s pocket watch.  Just as he begins to try to unravel that puzzle their elderly neighbour, Mr. Parson’s is outside and quite agitated because his being investigated for illegal possession of the Saguaro cactus which has been transplanted into his front yard.  Strange as it may seem the two incidents turn out to be related.

Looking into the case pro-bono (which always worries Chet because of “their finances”) they discover it all stems back to a suspicious kidnapping case that happened many year ago.

Not only that, but the reader is FINALLY given the answers to what happened on that no-so-long-ago night that Chet leapt the gate and had an unexpected tryst.

Once again Chet does a fine job of not only helping to solve the mystery but also in narrating the adventure from his canine point of view.  In my humble opinion this is the best entry yet in Mr. Quinn’s series.

One small paragraph in the book made me once again appreciate Chet’s simple view of problem solving and had me thinking that maybe people could take a page out of Chet’s book …

“Bernie looked over at me in surprise.  “Growling?” he said.  “What’s that about?  You mad at me?”

Whoa!  Mad at Bernie?  What could that possibly mean?  I was mad because … because … nothing came to mind.  Meaning I was mad at nothing, which had to mean I wasn’t mad.  There!  All better.  I rested my paw on Bernie’s leg, just to let him know we were cool.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his website)

As a boy, I read voraciously, almost anything I could get my hands on, but I enjoyed adventure stories the most. I wasn’t one of those unhappy kids who loses himself in books. I was a pretty happy kid who did it. We had a summer cottage in Quebec. My grandmother would come up on weekends, bringing me a kind of popcorn I liked and a stack of books. There would be famous ones, like Treasure Island, and not-so-famous ones, like Red Pete the Ruthless. I can still recall the last scene of that one – Red Pete, buried up to the neck between the high and low tide lines, surrounded by his stolen gold, waves lapping closer. Can’t you just hear the hiss of the bubbles?

I was also interested in words themselves. Probably like you, I hated to stop reading if I thought I’d pretty much understood a new word from the context, but some persnickety thing in me usually insisted I look it up. (“Persnickety,” for example, seems to derive from the Scots dialect. Nice to find out I’ve got some Scot in me, probably a surprise to my family.)

I began by writing stand-alones, meaning non-series novels – such as Lights Out, The Fan (filmed by Tony Scott, with a cast including Robert De Niro), Oblivion, and End of Story. It was during this period that Stephen King – uh-oh! I just came close to quoting from my own reviews. Wasn’t I brought up better than that?

It wasn’t until my wife said, “You should do something with dogs,” that I finally stumbled on the idea of writing detective novels from the POV of the gumshoe’s dog. Not a talking dog! He’s as canine as I could make him. I refer to Chet, the narrator of the Chet and Bernie series. Chet’s a supremely unreliable narrator, and it’s a lot of fun to let him loose in the strict plot confines of detective fiction. The Chet and Bernie books (Bernie is the detective) are for adults, although a lot of teens seem to be reading them. For middle-schoolers, I’m writing the Bowser and Birdie series, with Woof coming out in May 2015.
What else? Did I leave anything out?

(Well – webmaster here – how about the fact Spencer Quinn is the pen name for Peter Abrahams, Quinn handling all the dog-narrated material? And is it okay to mention winning an Edgar Allen Poe award for Reality Check, best young adult mystery, 2010, and an Agatha for Down the Rabbit Hole, best young adult mystery, 2006?) 

I’d prefer you didn’t.

ABOUT HIS RESEARCH TEAM (from the website)

I live on Cape Cod with my wife – all the kids up and grown now – and dogs Audrey (the black one in the photo, a wonderful year-round swimmer) and Pearl (who may dip a delicate paw into the water on a warm afternoon). Dogs are a big part of our life and there’s no way I could have written the Chet and Bernie books or Bowser and Birdie without them. Audrey and Pearl are the kind of researchers writers dream of, showing up every day and working for treats.

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