23. Dog On It - first in the Chet and Bernie series
by Spencer Quinn
I'm sure that I'm not the only dog lover in the world who is unable to read many dog books; fiction like Lassie Come Home and Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows, and the many nonfiction books. I can't do it. I love my dogs. I have loved many dogs, and the last thing I want to read, the very last thing, is about a dog friend getting sick or dying or a person giving up a dog. Well, if you are like me, you may now rejoice! Dog On It is THE dog lover's book. First of all, this is the first book in a series, so I knew he wasn't going to die. Second of all, there is great humor, and the book is told from Chet's point of view. There are a few tricky situations he gets into, but the reader knows in his heart that Chet will come out just fine.
Chet's human companion is Bernie Little, who runs a private detective agency. Bernie is divorced with a small son he doesn't see often enough. Bernie is passionate about the Arizona landscape and is always getting upset about how it is changing. This sentiment is pretty much lost on Chet though:
"Now entering Modena," said Bernie, honking as a low-rider car swerved in front of us. "What we've got here is wasteland, pure and simple."
Wasteland smelled good to me: grease and nothing but, all kinds of grease - pizza grease, car grease, french-fry grease, human-hair grease. I was sitting up as tall as I could in the shotgun seat, taking in everything, my nose quivering. ...
"You know what this used to be, Chet? And not so long ago? Ranchland, as far as the eye could see."
We'd gone to a ranch once, me, Bernie, Charlie, Leda. Don't get me started on horses - prima donnas, every one, dim and dangerous at the same time. I preferred Modena just like this, greasy and horseless.
Bernie also worries about water in this desert place.
"For thousands of years, this was open country," he said. "Rivers flowed. Where's all that water now?"And again, Chet has his own view.
I glanced to the side, spotted water right away, making beautiful rainbows over a putting green. What was the problem?
In Dog On It, there's a missing teenage girl who has possibly been kidnapped. In the course of the case, Chet himself is stolen, spends some time at a dog shelter, and travels with bikers for a while. Bernie has his own troubles, but of course all comes out well in the end.
I loved every minute of my time with Chet and Bernie. The story has its little bit of suspense, but we know everything will be fine. With Chet's comic relief, the book never gets too serious. And each of us who has a dog will surely believe this is the way dogs really think.
Bernie refilled the water bowl at the sink, even threw in a few ice cubes. Ah. Love ice cubes. ... I crushed an ice cube. Made my teeth feel great, and then cold little chips were swirling through my mouth, cooling me down all over.A human asks him -
I felt pretty good, so good I charged around the yard a bit, bursting out of one tight turn after another, clods of lawn flying all over the place. ... I skidded to a stop, one of the things I do best, and not easy - try it sometime.
I spotted a Cheeto under the bed. Munch munch and it was gone. Not bad at all, if you didn't mind a little dust, and I'm not fussy about things like that.
"Don't you like your kibble?"One of the blurbs on the back comes from the late, wonderful Robert B. Parker.
Not particularly, was the true answer. Steak, if available, was always my first choice, and there were many others in front of kibble.
"A detective, a dog, and some major league prose. Dog On It is a genuine joy."Perfect.
Oh, and by the way, Chet has his own blog!