Monday, June 30, 2014

THE DOG WHO KNEW TOO MUCH


Review of THE DOG WHO KNEW TOO MUCH by SPENCER QUINN
(fourth in the CHET AND BERNIE mysteries)

Narrated by the lovable dog Chet, these delightful mystery novels each follow Chet and his private investigator owner Bernie as they solve one of Bernie’s cases. A dog narrator creates a new angle for a familiar formula, since Chet frequently finds himself distracted and sidetracked. Lots of twists and turns and tangents in these books!

In this fourth book, THE DOG WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, a woman hires Bernie to pretend to be her boyfriend when she visits her son at camp. She’s worried her pushy ex-husband wants a reunion and hopes a tough guy like Bernie will scare the ex away with his presence alone. Except the son goes missing and it looks like the ex might be to blame.

I invested quite quickly, both reuniting with familiar characters and perking up at this new storyline. I should specify that these books definitely can be read out of order, though I do like the longer arches of personal plot threads. Each book follows one case, but Bernie’s life naturally becomes a part of each story. That includes his problems with his ex-wife Leda, his love for but struggle to see more of their son Charlie, and his blossoming relationship with the journalist Suzie.

Chet’s an unreliable but adorable narrator. He idolizes Bernie and his descriptions of his owner’s actions come with a heavy dose of reverence. As far as Chet’s concerned, Bernie is the smartest, most handsome, funniest, nicest, all-around-best human in the world...so it’s always important to take Chet’s recounting of events with a grain of salt. As for the adorable part, in this installment Chet finds himself a little torn between affection for Suzie and jealousy. (For one thing, she keeps taking the front seat.)

I rarely find myself describing a murder mystery as cute, but the Chet and Bernie series is one of the few crime novels that can give me warm fuzzies even amidst crime and corruption.

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