Paw and Order: A Chet and Bernie Mystery
Let’s imagine, for just one moment, that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came back as a detective dog named Chet. A leap, granted, but then that legendary mystery writer brought Moriarty back to life, didn’t he? So stick with me.
Now Chet the dog, a partner in the Little Detective Agency, owns all the known superior senses akin to the canine breed. We’ve all heard about how dogs can detect a plastic bag full of marijuana submerged in a barrel of gasoline inside a gas tank. Or cadaver dogs that can distinguish between live and dead humans buried under tons of rubble. These are handy talents that any first responder would love to acquire, and can, with the assistance of trained dogs. But just imagine a private investigator, namely Bernie Little, being lucky enough to have Chet, who not only possesses all those talents, but can actually write great detective stories. This is where the Sir Arthur theory comes in. And Chet has written not one but seven bestselling mysteries of his adventures with his talented yet sensory-deprived pal, Bernie, as the hero. Little does Bernie know that he’s only playing second banana to the real hero, Chet the Jet.
"Chet has penned (or pawed --- we’re never quite sure how he gets the story to the written page) his seventh novel, PAW AND ORDER, which may be the best book in this delightful series to date."
And now Chet has penned (or pawed --- we’re never quite sure how he gets the story to the written page) his seventh novel, PAW AND ORDER, which may be the best book in this delightful series to date. Fans are accustomed to Chet and Bernie solving crimes in mining tunnels, biker bars and desert washes, chasing down drug cartels and murderers across the border from the Valley (Chet lacks in map reading skills, but we all know it’s Arizona and Mexico). Another of Bernie’s weaknesses is with women and money. But, as Chet likes to say, “that’s a story for another time.” In the case of PAW AND ORDER it’s the former, as his erstwhile girlfriend, Suzie Sanchez, a local Valley newspaper reporter who earned a well-deserved promotion to a national newspaper, has left for greener pastures in Washington, DC. Bernie has just wound up a big drug bust in Louisiana, so he heads East on a whim (one of his best traits) and jumps in his vintage Porsche with Chet riding shotgun to go surprise Suzie.
There, Bernie finds himself in the big leagues, maybe bigger than he is used to handling. According to Chet, Bernie can handle anything, but a Russian spy ring, the FBI, the CIA, the DC cops and drones (which fly but don’t smell anything like birds) are out of both their leagues. Still, Chet is on the job with his supernatural olfactory senses, observational skills and colorful segues into characters and memorabilia about past escapades, not to mention the very dog-like habits that any dog lover will recognize.
Don’t despair if your own dog only lets you in on the talents that you, as a mere mortal, recognize, such as the Frisbee catching, the slurping sounds coming from your bathroom, that OCD squirrel thing (even Chet doesn’t understand that one), and the embarrassing sniffing of a stranger’s nether regions (he’s learning volumes about the guy you just invited into your home that you probably don’t want to know). Plus, there’s a whole novel about you behind those big puppy-dog eyes, if only he could fit his paws on your keyboard.
Spencer Quinn, who channels Chet, also writes great young adult mysteries all by himself as Peter Abrahams. I’m hoping that Abrahams will always find time out of his busy schedule to create more installments of this series for many years to come.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on August 8, 2014