Last month my Eclectic Readers Group got creative with a topic called Animal Acts which meant books written from the animal’s point of view, so today I’m sharing the three books I read. No one who knows me well will be surprised that I picked three books with canine main characters.
The Dog Who Knew Too Much
by Spencer Quinn
(Chet and Bernie Mystery series, Book 4)
Atria Books, 2011
This is a really fun series featuring private investigator Bernie Little and his canine companion Chet, a mixed breed dog who didn’t pass his final exam for the K-9 corps. Chet doesn’t remember exactly what went wrong but he’s pretty sure a cat was involved. The books are written entirely in Chet’s point of view.
In this installment, Chet and Bernie are hired by a woman named Anya as protection against her ex-husband when she goes into the mountains to visit her son, Devin at camp. However, when they get there, they learn Devin has gone missing from an overnight camp out. This all takes place in the mountains of another, unnamed state. (Sounds like Colorado to me, but states are never specified in this series, at least not so far. Geography isn’t Chet’s strong suit; grabbing perps by the pant leg is.)
It doesn’t take our intrepid sleuths long to figure out something is rotten in the unnamed country. The sheriff and judge are obviously corrupt and up to their ears in whatever casued Devin’s disappearance. When Chet finds the camp counselor who led Devin’s group dead inside an old gold mine, Bernie is inexplicably arrested for his murder. It’s up to Chet, who makes his way back home, and their friend, reporter Susie Sanchez to rescue Bernie. Chet is hilarious, as always, esp. the scene where he shows up alone at home and is taken in by the neighbor, Mr. Parsons, owner of Chet’s best friend Iggy. The two dogs are so delighted to be together, they go romping around the house, knocking things over. As Chet is leaving with Susie, she asks him if he was a good guest just as they pass the plumber on his way in to fix the toilet full of little guest soaps he and Iggy knocked over.
In the end, all works out well, of course, except for Bernie’s finances, which never work out well. Very enjoyable series and often quite funny.
Popular Amazon Kindle highlight: Sometimes big questions pop up in life. For example: was steak still on the menu or not?
A Dog’s Purpose
by W. Bruce Cameron
Forge Books 2010
Another book written entirely from the dog’s POV. In this book, the same dog is reincarnated four times as different dogs. First, he’s a feral puppy nicknamed Toby by Senora, the woman who takes in stray dogs. The first life is short and not very happy. Next, he is reborn as a pure-bred Golden Retriever at a puppy farm in Michigan in the 1960’s. He remembers his brief life as Toby, including how his mother escaped from Senora’s compound by opening the gate. Using that knowledge, he escapes from the puppy farm and wanders off down the road. He eventually comes to live with a family that has a little boy named Ethan. It’s love at first sight between Ethan and the puppy he names Bailey. This is his happiest life; his only purpose to love his boy. Two more lives follow, but I won’t go into more details.
Since before my husband died, I’ve primarily read what I like to call fluff: lighthearted, funny books that don’t make me feel anything but amusement. Life is much easier this way. Until I read this book. I really liked it, though it tugged on my emotions more than any other book I’ve read in a while. I laughed a lot, and I cried, several times. Cameron’s writing is philosophical and made me think. I love the idea of dogs reincarnating and perhaps reuniting with people they’ve known before. Recommended for animal lovers, esp. dog lovers.
My favorite line occurs after Ethan’s family has buried the family cat, Smokey: The next day, when Mom and the boy left for school, I went out into the yard and dug Smokey back up, figuring they couldn’t have meant to bury a perfectly good dead cat. That still cracks me up, though I’m still wondering what is so good about a dead cat.
by Diane Kelly
First in Paw Enforcement series
St. Martin’s, 2014
Fort Worth Police Officer Megan Luz almost loses her job when she tasers her partner in the privates. (The guy kind of deserved it. What a jerk.) Megan is half Irish, half Mexican, with a temper. The chief gives her another chance by re-assigning her to the K-9 unit where she is partnered with a German Shepherd named Brigit. It’s not exactly love at first sight. The last thing Megan needs in her postage-sized studio apartment is a huge furry roommate, not to mention fitting the dog into her Smart Car. She and Brigit battle for dominance, at first, though Megan comes to respect Brigit’s abilities as a police dog. Brigit is much better behaved on the job than off, resulting in some funny situations.
Favorite section: When Megan brings Brigit to mass with her, she slips the dog half of her Communion wafer, which Brigit promptly hacks back up. Grabbing Brigit’s leash, I hustled her out the back doors and into the foyer. Before I could stop her, she’d dragged me over to the font, propped her front legs on it, and lapped up a mouthful of holy water.
The point of view varies from Megan (first person ) to short third person excerpts from Brigit and a bomber who thinks of himself as The Rattler. When Brigit alerts at a trash can in the mall food court, Megan discovers a bomb in time to evacuate everyone. Only she and Brigit are wounded. Later, when Brigit licks tuna out of Megan’s hair, the Rattler is named the Tunabomber by the media, much to his disgust and anger. This is just the first bombing.
I enjoyed this mystery. There’s a budding romance between Megan and a fireman from the bomb squad named Seth, not to mention Brigit and Seth’s dog. Cute book for mystery fans and/or dog lovers.
As always, click on the graphic below for more great reviews in Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.
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I hadn’t realized there was a big genre of dog-narrated books for adults. Thanks for the intro. Now I feel like I should teach my dog to read.
Sarah, LOL. I don’t think it’s a big genre, but there are a few. Lots of mystery readers love animals in their stories. Let me know how the dog was with the reading. Some of them do like to watch TV. Chet loves Animal Planet.
These sound amazing. I love animal stories, particularly the kind written from an animal’s point of view. (Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is a personal favorite even now.) I don’t know if I could take A Dog’s Purpose just now (we recently lost our eldest pup), but the other two sound like great fun. Thanks for the reviews!
Robert, you sound like me. I think you’d really enjoy the Chet and Bernie books, but under the circumstances, I wouldn’t recommend reading A Dog’s Purpose just now. So sorry you lost your dog. If I were God, the first thing I’d do is extend the lifespan of canines.
Thank you. He had a good, long life (18 1/2 years) for a big dog, so we really can’t complain. But I would have kept him another 50 if I could. 🙁
Rob, that’s amazing for a big dog. You obviously took good care of him. My mom and dad’s Chihuahua lived to be 17.
Have never had a dog so this seems pretty exotic to me.
Patti, if nothing else the Chet and Bernie mysteries, and Paw Enforcement, should give you a laugh or two. Good reading for when you’re down in the dumps.
Thanks for the reviews. I’m not much for books about animals (I’m always far too worried that the animal will die), but the last one sounds entertaining. I feel confident Diane Kelly won’t kill off Brigit.
I know what you mean, Stacy. It’s the “Old Yeller” syndrome. You don’t have to worry that Spencer Quinn will kill off Chet either. Who will tell the story if he did?
I’ve read several book of this type over the years and love them all though I can’t explain why. Perhaps it’s because I want to know what my too smart GSD is thinking…:)
I think I first heard of W. Bruce Cameron’s dog books on your blog. I’d love to know what our canine friends are thinking, too. At least I think I would.
What an interesting array! I’m so sorry for your loss, however, laughing and crying is good for you!
Laughing is definitely good for me, and I guess crying can be cathartic.
I have two dogs. Need I say more?! Thank you for the term “Old Yeller syndrome” and the Popular Kindle Highlight (now that’s a sign of the times). I’m definitely up for a book with dogs and humor. Thanks for reviewing! p.s. your eclectic book club sounds very fun. I
I love our Eclectic Readers Group. I don’t think I’d fit well into a group where everyone reads the same book, whether they want to or not. Too regimented for me.
My goodness, don’t these sound like fun! (With a bit of sadness mixed in , of course. What could be better!) Seems to me I have a canine pov book somewhere in this house that someone gave me with a recommendation. I’ll have to dig it up. (Heh. That might be a dog joke.)
LOL, great pun, Ellen. I’d love to know what other canine POV books are out there. They are so fun to read.