Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn

Anyone who loves dogs should try the Chet and Bernie mysteries by Spencer Quinn. It's hard to resist Chet's narration as he tells of his adventures with Bernie Little in the Little Detective Agency. And, Chet is at the top of his game as Bernie's partner in A Fistful of Collars.

Bernie has issues with the local government in the Valley so it comes as a surprise to him when he's recommended to the mayor's office for a job. The mayor has plans for the future of the film industry in the Valley. It means big money when a film company wants to shoot Wild Horseman there. And, it means big money for Bernie, $3000 a day just to keep Thad Perry, the star, out of trouble during the filming. But, Bernie doesn't like the looks of some of the people involved with Thad, and Chet isn't crazy about Brando, Thad's cat.

Bernie only has to keep Thad Perry out of trouble for twenty-one days of filming, but who's going to keep Bernie out of trouble? His reporter girlfriend, Suzie, has moved on to a better job, so Chet's the only one working with him as they follow one of Thad's assistants to a shady side of town. And, when Chet and Bernie find two bodies, they know something in Thad Perry's past has brought trouble to the Valley. Once again, it's time for the team to ride to the rescue.

Spencer Quinn's mysteries have a few appealing features that continue to draw me back. I appreciate Bernie's view of the Valley. He understands its history and the value of water, and Chet knows "the dry dusty scent of the desert." Bernie Little an interesting man, a little weak when it comes to women and money, but a man with a fascinating history.  But, the main draw of these books is Chet. He's loyal to Bernie, the person he sees as the smartest man in any room. But, Chet is a dog. And, he often forgets what he's doing when he's caught up in the life of a dog or the nation as he refers to the brotherhood of dogs. Chet is an unreliable narrator because he'll go off on a tangent, forgetting what is happening in the case, or even in his present surroundings. It may be more important to chase a cat, gnaw on a treat, or mark his spot. But, don't worry. He may be lost in his dog world at times, but Chet will always be there for Bernie as the two detectives get their culprit.

Spencer Quinn's readers may return for his fun mysteries, the setting or the characters. But, I'm willing to bet most of us picked up A Fistful of Collars because we're big fans of Chet the dog. And, Bernie may have a fascinating past, but there is a secret or two to uncover about Chet's life in future books as well. We can't wait until Chet's past comes back to bite him.

Keep up with Spencer Quinn, Chet and Bernie at

A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn. Atria Books. 2012. ISBN 9781451665161 (hardcover), 309p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book after I requested it.


bermudaonion said...

I haven't met Chet yet, but I sure want to!

Jane R said...

Chet sounds a bit like my dog, who often forgets what he's doing as he follows a scent or watches a butterfly. I've already requested the first book in the series (Dog on It) from my local library. It should be a great read! Thanks for the info on this series!

Lesa said...


Anyone who owns a dog has "met" Chet in one way or another. He's all dog.

Lesa said...

Jane, I think you'll like Dog Gone It. Chet makes me laugh. He's such a dog.

Sandra said...

I love Spencer Quinn's books and love Chet and Bernie. We are going to meet the author in a few weeks when he does a luncheon at our library - can't wait to meet a person who so loves animals and writes such lovely novels.

Lesa said...

Oh, have fun, Sandra! He's here at the Poisoned Pen today, but I'm attending a community meeting, so I'm going to miss him.

Beth Hoffman said...

This review just tickled me! "...Chet is an unreliable narrator because he'll go off on a tangent... more important to chase a cat, gnaw on a treat, or mark his spot." LOL

I think I need to spend some time with Chet!

Rosemary Kaye said...

I am amazed to find that our libraries here in East Lothian have some of these books - have 'saved' to my never-ending list of future borrows. I enjoy books that feature animals - so long as nothing bad happens to them. Have never read Black Beauty & wouldn't even consider The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time for ages (- though finally did and it was wonderful). Cannot countenance 'War Horse' no matter how much of a genius Michael Morpurgo may be. Must have been traumatised by Bambi :-)