As sole proprietors of the Little Detective Agency, canine detective Chet and his (human) friend Bernie are at it again in A Fistful of Collars. After the mayor of Bernie’s Southwest desert hometown (“the Valley”) successfully promotes the area as a location for the newest Thad Perry blockbuster film, the pair act as minders for the popular but problem-ridden actor. Turns out the oddly winsome Thad has a way-back connection to the Valley. No one in his entourage seems to want his past known . . . maybe badly enough to kill?

As in his four previous books, author Spencer Quinn features the indomitable Chet as narrator, and you’ll never have a dull moment as the cocky canine wags his way into your affections. The book is full of hilarious verbal fly-bys, and these Chet-isms are what give the books their inventive humor, as Chet alternately misses the point or gets it with bells on. He explains that an idea can slip right by him, a fact he quickly accepts: “My mind shrank away from the thought. Always a surprisingly nice feeling when my mind did that: I had one of those minds that was on my side, if you know what I mean, which I actually don’t.”

You’ll never have a dull moment as the cocky canine wags his way into your affections.

The quiet Bernie (one wishes he’d say more) is hopeless with expressing feelings, especially toward the opposite sex; and he’s a loser at finances. But as the brains behind the operation, he has a fine-tuned sense of what’s going on in people’s heads, exacting the crucial truth from troubled suspects. Chet contributes his superior doggie hearing and speed, and he has a wonderful sense of what’s buried inside the human heart, fueling those human needs that sometimes confuse him. Bernie puts ‘em on the spot, Chet gets ‘em by the collar.

This book contains some fascinating cameo roles: a smallish dog barking from the desert outside Bernie’s gate; a frightening killer dog named Outlaw; and Brando, a silky-smooth, golden-eyed cat who belongs to Thad. Chet’s full of surprises, and they frequently surprise him, too. We hope that Quinn (a k a well-known author Peter Abrahams) doesn’t tire of this, pardon me, arresting pair.

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