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Of Mutts and Men: A Chet & Bernie Mystery

Review

Of Mutts and Men: A Chet & Bernie Mystery

Author Spencer Quinn comes to the rescue during this long pandemic with a refreshing visit to the most unique detective agency in America.

Chet, a dog of sizeable and unknown genes but indubitable bravery, is a highly trained almost graduate of the canine police training academy and the narrator of this delightful series. The reason Chet almost earned his badge had to do with the final exam. A squirrel was involved. Or was it a cat? Whatever, that’s in the past now. But he flunked out on that fateful last day and was adopted by Bernie Little of the Little Detective Agency, located somewhere near Phoenix.

Chet and Bernie specialize in thefts and assaults --- and, when times are really lean, snooping on the occasional cheating spouse or solving a murder. Bernie does the boring work: pays the bills when cash is available, answers the phones, and drives the car with Chet riding shotgun in the passenger seat. But it’s Chet’s nose and infallible instincts that come in handy when the trail ends.

"Spencer Quinn comes to the rescue during this long pandemic with a refreshing visit to the most unique detective agency in America."

At a social gathering, Chet and Bernie meet a hydrologist named Wendell Nero. Bernie is worried about the environment, especially where water is concerned, so he finds it fascinating to talk to this gentleman about his work. When Wendell learns that Bernie is a PI, he invites the duo to meet him at his office the next day to discuss a problem. Chet, unclear about what a hydrologist does, highly approves of Wendell --- he’s one of those guys who knows just where to scratch his ears --- so he's glad when Bernie agrees to the meeting. No deal is struck, but a case is a case, right? Details come later.

Wendell draws a map on a cocktail napkin with directions to his office. Miles outside the city on a gravel road far up a desert canyon, Chet and Bernie find his mobile home, only to discover the door open and Wendell dead, his throat slashed. Was it a robbery gone wrong, or premeditated murder? Among Wendell’s scattered files, Bernie learns that he was searching for an underground water source where one was unlikely.

A man fleeing the scene is apprehended and arrested for robbery by a young deputy who feels no need to investigate further. The suspect swears to his innocence, and Bernie believes him. He and Chet then head to the hospital to visit his old friend, Sheriff Gooden, who is dying of cancer. The ailing sheriff requests that Chet lay next to him. In the middle of the night, Chet is kidnapped from the hospital room and driven to Mexico. The action speeds up, and Chet needs his nose and instincts to help save himself and lead Bernie to the killers.

According to Stephen King, “Chet is a wonderful narrator --- top dog, you could say --- but he never descends to cuteness and Bernie is as tough a PI as Spade or Marlowe, a man as quick with his .38 as he is with a Slim Jim for his sidekick.” OF MUTTS AND MEN is a fun read, with Chet sniffing his way through to the end, despite his near-death experience in the Mexican wilds. The book is hard to put down and will amuse you during yet another day in lockdown.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on July 31, 2020

Of Mutts and Men: A Chet & Bernie Mystery
by Spencer Quinn

  • Publication Date: July 7, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250297699
  • ISBN-13: 9781250297693