Call me Rusty.

BookPage (or rather, a certain BookPage writer) asked me to review the second in Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie mystery series. I’d rather be a pirate (B’arrrrrrrgh!), but the book was written by Chet, a dog, and deserves the attention of the author’s peers. So, being “one of my guys,” as Chet puts it, I’m happy to lend a paw.

To begin with, this book looks good and smells good. (Chews well, too, though a little pulpy in the middle.) Chet, a dog of an unrecognizable breed, works alongside his godlike human, Bernie Little, Private Investigator. They check out a mysterious case of dognapping, involving a “tiny fluffball” named Princess. Princess came to town for the Great Western Dog Show and disappeared somewhere into the dry gulches and canyons—along with her ill-fated owner, an Italian contessa, and Suzie, Bernie’s girlfriend.

Details are sometimes hazy, but Chet is more observant than your average dog. (Present company excluded.) His soliloquies often involve taking human metaphors literally, as in pondering the connection of poles to Polish sausage.

Life is always great for Chet, as for all of us dogs, so don’t expect any noir here. But he is not unphilosophical—“whatever that is,” as he often says modestly. Dogito ergo sum (“I am a dog, therefore I am”) appears to be his ruling concept, though not in so many words, of course. I did notice that he can’t seem to bark Latin. So few dogs, ahem, can.

Any reader with a nose for nastiness may sniff out the perp early on, but the real fun is in Chet’s take on humans and their world. He’s not above expressing his amazement at the many ways in which dogs are superior (hearing, smelling, etc.). Still, he retains an unqualified love for his human, and he expresses universal truths eloquently—like the superiority of bacon chew strips over other forms of entertainment.

Great job. Good Spencer.

Rusty lives with his owner, Maude McDaniel, in Cumberland, Maryland.

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