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Up on the Woof Top: A Chet & Bernie Mystery

Review

Up on the Woof Top: A Chet & Bernie Mystery

It's almost Christmas, and Rudolph the reindeer is missing. While this misplaced caribou is a resident of Colorado instead of the North Pole, the situation is affecting the work of one Dame Ariadne Carlisle, a world-renowned cozy mystery author who has published 99 books. But without Rudy, her muse is gone. This is where our two intrepid detectives, Bernie and Chet, enter. UP ON THE WOOF TOP is the 14th book in Spencer Quinn's popular series, and there's something rather special about it.

Chet is the fabulous canine narrator whose modesty about past exploits is almost as charming as his complete adoration of Bernie Little, who can do no wrong in his huge soulful eyes. But the additional something special here is Dame Ariadne, who hires Bernie and Chet to find her missing reindeer.

"Enjoy your time at Kringle Ranch, and have fun figuring out the 'who done it' part. You'll probably succeed. But most of all, revel in Chet; in many ways, he is the epitome of what we want our dogs to be thinking."

Dame Ariadne writes a Christmas mystery every year, but she's currently suffering from writer's block. She and her assistant, Chaz, think the problem might stem from Rudy’s disappearance. Bernie meets her at a book signing he attends with his neighbors, and she is quite taken with Chet, as are most who get to meet him. So with a generous offer of employment, Bernie and Chet load up their Porsche and head to the Kringle Ranch, near Durango, Colorado, where the author has thousands and thousands of acres of land.

What results, though, is that the mystery isn't confined to "Where did Rudy go?" Chaz is badly injured, and when Bernie finds him --- or, rather, Chet does --- they start to sense there is more at hand than a missing oversized deer. As with all of these adventures, this one works as a stand-alone, although reading them all helps to build up the characters and relationship of Chet and Bernie and their loved ones.

There are plenty of additional characters, suspects if you will, to sort through, but Quinn doesn't hide much. What you see is often what you get. We are predisposed to like some of the characters because Bernie and Chet do; if Chet doesn't like someone, well, we know that's a strong indication to pay attention. And while Chet doesn't quite know what to make of idioms like "even-steven," his ability to get to the inner core of a person --- both mentally and physically --- would be the envy of most trauma surgeons and therapists.

Quinn's previous book was MRS. PLANSKY’S REVENGE, a stand-alone title. The protagonist is a woman of a certain age who, in many ways, reminds me of Dame Ariadne. They don't share the same background, but they do have a force within them, something fierce and strong that defies age and stereotypes. Chet often refers to Dame Ariadne's age as something changeable, depending on how she feels and looks. Somehow, in this book, she seems to be a larger presence than the new characters are in other Chet and Bernie novels. She's a central part of the story, and the connection she makes with Bernie goes deep. It's so lovely.

Enjoy your time at Kringle Ranch, and have fun figuring out the "who done it" part. You'll probably succeed. But most of all, revel in Chet; in many ways, he is the epitome of what we want our dogs to be thinking. You'll laugh at his misunderstanding and be touched by his empathy and insightfulness. But most of all, you'll really want a Chet of your own.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on October 28, 2023

Up on the Woof Top: A Chet & Bernie Mystery
by Spencer Quinn

  • Publication Date: October 17, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250843308
  • ISBN-13: 9781250843302