Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review: Paw and Order (dog, mystery)

Paw and Order (A Chet and Bernie Mystery), by Spencer Quinn* (Atria Books of Simon and Schuster, 2014, 305 pages, $25)

Awww, it is so good to be back with Chet (the Jet), a good dog. A funny dog. A failed police K9 dog turned successful (though not financially so) private investigator dog, part of the dog and man PI team of Chet and Bernie, respectively.

(Read DogEvals’ riveting reviews of the other fabulous Chet and Bernie books here.)

Fun and Suspenseful Beach Read

The Chet and Bernie books are a great friend to return to every so often and Paw and Order is a good one, especially if you live in the Washington, DC, area like I do. I had fun recognizing a couple of touristy spots through the eyes of a dog. (But there are not so many as to bore the never-been-there reader.) I also had fun recognizing the ‘bird’ early on.

Will the Real Chet Please Stand Up?

Six previous books have each given a few additional hints as to what Chet the Dog looks like – big, over a hundred pounds; stand-up ears, one being white (at least in three of the books’ covers though it may be a function of the lighting); Border Collie appearance.

I suspect Chet may be a Border Collie-German Shepherd Dog mix because Border Collies just don’t weigh over a hundred pounds – more like 40. Plus he started life as a K9-in-training (and would have passed, had it not been for that squirrel who just had to be chased - or was it a cat?), an occupation more populated with German Shepherd Dogs than Border Collies.

Crime and Punishment is Their Bread and Butter

Chet and Bernie have a penchant for giving some of their acquaintances new clothes: mostly orange jumpsuits, along with new occupations: breaking big rocks into little rocks. Chet and Bernie are traveling PIs (Chet riding shotgun in their current Porsche), roamers, finding trouble (or, you might say, finding cases) wherever they go.

Based probably in Phoenix, the duo survived a recent adventure in Louisiana before heading east to Washington, DC, where Bernie’s girlfriend-journalist Suzie has taken a job with the Washington Post. On the way, the PIs best a bunch of bikers and relieve one of them of a small pink-handled gun, which becomes implicated in a murder: therefore, Bernie becomes implicated as the main suspect.

But Washington, DC, is also the spy capital of the country, and twists and turns fly fast and furious. You will be on the seat of your pants as, through Chet’s nose and ears, you discover what it takes Bernie a few chapters to discover, from international intrigue to Suzie’s kidnapping to a near proposal.

Paw and Order may not be Spencer Quinn’s best Chet and Bernie tale (tail?), though the suspense does escalate exponentially, but it sure is fun to get back to Chet’s view of things. If you are the kind who doesn’t thrive on canine narrators, however, you might still fall in love with the absent-minded Chet who can count all the way up to two.

Thanks, Chet, for another quick read by a lovable narrator. See you soon! How about in the Pacific Northwest next time?

*Not his real name!

Where can you find Paw and Order? Try your public library or independent bookstore first.

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