Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

23. Dog On It - first in the Chet and Bernie series
by Spencer Quinn
mystery, 2009
finished, 4/23/10

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.

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.
A human asks him -
"Don't you like your kibble?"
Not particularly, was the true answer. Steak, if available, was always my first choice, and there were many others in front of kibble.
One of the blurbs on the back comes from the late, wonderful Robert B. Parker.
"A detective, a dog, and some major league prose. Dog On It is a genuine joy."

Oh, and by the way, Chet has his own blog!


  1. Oh, I feel the same way about dog books. I cannot take it.

    But, believe it or not, my husband just finished Dog On It, and he loved it!

  2. I'm hooked!! While reading Edgar Sawtelle I would ask Bruce (my dog) why he couldn't be more like the Sawtelle dogs...he didn't have an answer for me!! LOL!!

  3. This sounds like it might be a good read. You should have seen Luna sniffing the book you sent. She could smell your dogs. tee hee.

  4. Oh, Nan, you are a softie, just like me! I've added this to my list of books to read because you never steer me wrong. Thank you for sharing your reading experience.

  5. I get what you say about dog books - two of my favorite have bittersweet endings. One is The Art of Racing in the Rain and the other The Dogs of Babel.

    Just might have to check out Dog On It...even if only because of Chet's cool blog...

    - Jeff

  6. I thought this was a pretty good debut mystery. (Your dog is a cutie).

  7. Added to my TBR queue. Thanks for the recommendation!

  8. I'll have to get this one.

    My favorite dog book was Plague Dogs by Richard Adams (1977). I still remember Snitter and Rowf. :-)


    I too put down great dog books when I feel a problem or death is coming. It kills me.

    So far so good. No major bloopers.

    Sending love and looking forward to this book,


  10. I do agree about dog books - I posted last year about one by Kipling that had me in tears at the end. And I hate those books where a dog appears and you immediately know that something really bad will happen to it - the canine equivalent of the redshirt in Star Trek. It was enought to stop me reading a recent review book.

  11. I worked at our town's library for years, often patrons would return a book, saying, 'this was such a good book - until'... and I knew, just knew, it would be another heart breaker, where the favorite pet dies.

    I love to read animal books, just usually hate the sad endings, especially when I had read far into the night... and then to face a tearful ending.

    I'm going to look for this, it sounds 'happy'! Thanks for letting me know about it.

  12. I'll have to give the book a try! I just finished listening to The Art of Racing in the Rain (also told from a dog's point-of-view) and I LOVED it!! Enzo made me laugh out loud on several occasions. I should have my review up later this weekend.

  13. You'll love Chet, Pamela, as I'm sure your husband told you!

    Staci, we all talk to our dogs, don't we? It's funny in the book because Chet doesn't understand much of what Bernie says. ;<)

    Lisa, I love it!!

    Thank you for such kind words, Clair! You'll like the descriptions of your part of the world as well as the joy of Chet!

    Jeff, you had mentioned the Racing book to me a while ago so I looked it up, but I thought I wouldn't do so well with it. :<)
    You'll like ol' Chet! I promise.

    Diane, Ben thanks you!

    Sprite, it is a fun read!

    Webster, I never could have read The Plague Dogs. :<)

    Sharon, you don't have to monitor! I can do that for you. :<) You'll love this book.

    Geranium Cat, we are certainly simpatico on this!

    Mattenylou, you won't cry at this one! I smile every time I think about Chet.

    Les, as I noted to Jeff, I don't think this one is for me.


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