Chet is a police dog extraordinaire. Technically, he’s not a card-carrying police dog because he failed the final exam due to an incident with a squirrel. But, as Chet likes to say, “That’s a story for another time.” Chet is a handsome, 100+ pound dog of undetermined parentage, and the voice of the entertaining and original mystery series that has captured the imaginations of every mystery-loving dog owner who is lucky enough to have discovered him.
The first book, DOG ON IT, made it to the coveted New York Times bestseller list, and THEREBY HANGS A TAIL followed it as surely as a dog follows a rabbit. TO FETCH A THIEF is the most exciting of the three books, which are spun by the most engaging dog in literature. Chet is proud to be the sidekick of his P.I. partner Bernie, an ex-cop and the smartest guy in any room. Chet overlooks Bernie’s human foibles --- his efforts to quit smoking and his occasional bout with bourbon --- but he is most disturbed by Bernie’s failure to collect fees from his clients so he can pay his bills on time. He also misses Bernie’s son, Charlie, who now lives with his mother after the divorce, a human condition Chet just doesn’t get.
Little Charlie loves elephants, and when Bernie hears about a small family circus coming to town with its star performer, Peanut the Elephant, he takes Charlie and Chet. When they arrive, they discover that Peanut and her trainer, Uri, are missing. None of the circus management seems concerned about how a seven-ton elephant and his trainer could vanish into thin air. Chet figures it out in minutes when the scent disappears next to large tire tracks at the side of the road outside the grounds. It’s a crucial clue, and he’s frustrated because he can’t communicate it with the humans. The local police don’t see it as a serious crime, so Uri’s best friend, Popo the Clown, hires Bernie (and Chet) to look for his missing friends. When Uri turns up dead, the case gets serious.
Chet and Bernie find themselves in deep trouble when their investigation leads them to a remote village south of the Mexican border. The detective duo is kidnapped by the bad guys, but Bernie makes Chet run for it as he’s led off by the thugs. Now it’s up to Chet to find Bernie and save Peanut.
TO FETCH A THIEF offers plenty of chuckles and adventure along the way --- this is no “Lassie saves Timmy from the well.” Author Spencer Quinn has captured the inner soul of a dog whose expertise in reading scents and body language makes Chet a wonder dog. His one downfall is his attention span. He can be hot on the trail of a theory (which he can’t tell Bernie because he can only write mysteries, not talk to humans) when his doggie brain takes over. His species confusion can distract him when his canine instincts take over and the bark he hears comes from him, or he is startled by a sudden breeze that turns out to be his wagging tail.
Chet likes to ride shotgun in Bernie’s ancient Porsche when they’re off on the case. You’ll want to ride shotgun with this daring duo once you get to know them.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on July 7, 2011