Because I am writing an sf novel with a canine protagonist that involves a mystery, I like to keep up with what else is being written in this general category (you might be amazed how many there are). And sometimes I find wonderful things!
Case in point: the “Chet and Bernie Mysteries” of Spencer Quinn. The first two novels in this deservedly-bestselling series, which has now stretched to 8 novels and several e-shorts, are:
Dog On It (2009)
Told entirely from the viewpoint of Chet, the 100-lb. K9-training “reject” with one black ear and one white ear, this entertaining, fast-paced story grabbed me from the very first line.
Chet lives with his human partner, PI Bernie Little (of the Little Detective Agency). Their home is in an unnamed southwestern state, in a place Chet only knows as The Valley.
In their first adventure, they’re on the trail of Madison, a teenager who may or may not have been kidnapped, and is the focus of a dispute between her divorced parents.
Mom Cynthia Chambliss is convinced her daughter has been kidnapped, and hires Chet and Bernie to find her. Dad Damon Keefer (who smells suspiciously of cat) tells Bernie she’s probably run away, but demands details of the investigation.
Turns out Mom is right, but when Madison briefly turns up again, it almost looks as if the case will come to nothing . . . until she disappears again. Good thing Chet is on the job! He follows her trail–and ends up in deep trouble, himself.
Will Chet and Bernie unravel the clues in time? Who is the mysterious Russian? Was Madison really in Las Vegas the whole time, after all? And how does the knife in the parking lot fit in? Enjoy the suspenseful fun as you read the book to find out.
Thereby Hangs a Tail (2010)
Chet and Bernie return for a second adventure, this time on a mission to investigate threats made against a show dog named Princess. Her owner, the wealthy Adelina Borghese, is worried.
The partners need the money, so they take what seems at first to be a silly job as bodyguards to a pampered puffball. But when both Princess and Adelina disappear, things get serious very quickly.
What are the secrets of the ghost town where Chet finds Princess? Who is the sniper? Will Princess and Chet survive their trek across the desert? Where has Bernie’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, Suzie Sanchez, disappeared to? Read and find out! You’ll be glad you did.
Chet spins his tales well, yet remains very convincingly a dog. it’s one of the things I love most about him. He could only have been written by a man who intimately understands dogs. Quinn (actually the thriller-writer Peter Abrahams) clearly has a long and close relationship with the species. (His current canine family members are Audrey and Pearl. They live with him and his wife on Cape Cod).