Book Review Club: Chet and Bernie Mysteries

My beloved husband of twenty-five years, Bob Allen Wilkinson, passed away last Friday, Jan. 2. I spent most of last month in and out of hospitals while he was battling cancer, and reading was my only distraction.

A friend had recommended the Chet and Bernie mysteries as fun reading, and I loved the idea of a series written from the point of view of the sleuth’s trusty canine companion. I devoured the first three books in the season plus two of the e-book novellas. (All purchased and read on the Kindle app, in case the FCC is paying attention.)

Dog On It coverDog On It is the first Chet and Bernie book. Bernie Little is a former soldier and policeman now working as a private investigator. Bernie is a great detective and a good guy, but a lousy businessman and a worse investor, so he is always in financial difficulties and has to take on divorce work, which he hates. Chet, a large dog of indeterminate breed, is his trusty companion and partner in solving crimes. Chet is a trained K-9 dog who almost graduated from the program, and would have, if it hadn’t been for that cat. (Cat smell is the worst smell of all!)

In the first book, Chet and Bernie are called in to locate a missing teenage girl. The action takes them from “the Valley” a fictional urban area in an unnamed Southwestern state–my money is on Arizona–to Las Vegas and into New Mexico. Once he’s on a case, Bernie doesn’t give up, even when the client says he is no longer needed. (And we wonder why he has money problems.) Very enjoyable.

Quinn-TherebyHangsTail-200In Thereby Hangs a Tail, Bernie and Chet are called in when a wealthy woman and her prize show dog, Princess, go missing.

Quinn does a fabulous job of delving into the canine mind: the short attention span, the pleasure in little things like a good scratch or a cold drink of water, and best of all. riding shotgun in the Porsche with the top down. His confusion about some of Bernie’s literary and historical references (who is this Kit Carson, a perp?) and his general confusion about human behavior are often quite funny. What is the human nose for, when it doesn’t work very well?

To Fetch a Thief coverIn their third outing, Chet and Bernie go on the hunt for Peanut, a missing circus elephant,and her trainer. Chet finds the circus fascinating–so many strange, wild, rich smells. Chet and Peanut ultimately make a good team in another fun read.

If I have one criticism, it’s that the books start to get a little formulaic. Chet always ends up separated from Bernie where he discovers important information about the case, but of course, he can’t just tell Bernie what’s going on. Fortunately, when he barks and takes off on a tangent, Bernie knows to follow where the dog’s nose leads. Recommended for mystery fans and dog lovers.

For more information, check out Chet: A Dog’s Life, the Official Blog of Chet the Dog.

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