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Tender Is the Bite: A Chet & Bernie Mystery

Review

Tender Is the Bite: A Chet & Bernie Mystery

If you are new to the adventures of Chet the Jet, the narrator of Spencer Quinn’s entertaining and exciting mystery series, welcome to the pack (that’s dog-speak for fan club). Chet is an enormous, scary-looking dog of uncertain heritage (no doubt a German shepherd is in there somewhere), which comes into play right off the bat. Be forewarned that Chet tells of his adventures with P.I. Bernie Little, CEO of the Little Detective Agency, where you will be introduced to the ability that only a dog’s impeccable scenting skills (not to mention sense of humor and irony) can convey.

"The action never stops, and Chet’s memorable dialogue has me agreeing with Stephen King when he says this is '[w]ithout a doubt the most original mystery series currently available.'"

Oh, Bernie does have a speaking role and chimes in to fill in the necessary details. He drives his outdated Porsche and pulls out the cuffs to capture various potential perps. He identifies victims, along with good and bad cops, just to keep the plot rolling. But it’s Chet with his flawless sense of smell who is the hero of the tale. (I wanted to get cute and write “tail” because that’s one of his many talents --- secondary message-sending telepathy --- but my editor wouldn’t let me.)

Politics enters the story when Bernie’s neighbors get involved in a contest pounding stakes to erect the largest opposing yard sign for the U.S. Senate. Bernie is largely apolitical, so he doesn’t realize the importance of the dispute until it becomes clear that one of the candidates may be cozy with some Ukrainian mobster types who hire him to head up security for their Hawaiian facility.  

Mavis, a beautiful young woman, approaches Chet and Bernie in their driveway as they leave the office. She is seeking help in locating her friend, Johnnie Lee Goetz, but then abruptly drives off when she spots a political bumper sticker on the floor of Bernie’s car. A puzzled Bernie, who has no idea how it got there, snags Mavis’ license plate number to track her down. This leads to finding Johnnie Lee and her pet ferret, Griffie, mentioned here only because Griffie plays a prominent role in the novel when she is kidnapped by a large Ukrainian. Johnnie Lee hires Bernie to find Griffie and her missing ex-boyfriend, Mickey Rottoni.

Chet’s nose comes into play when he finds Griffie’s scent on a trail, and they discover a lifeless Mickey in an old mine site along with a seriously wounded dog caught in the gunfire, who looks remarkably like Chet. There is no Griffie in sight (or scent). Bernie, hero that he is, hurries down the trail to take the injured dog to the vet, whose chip turns out to belong to Mavis. Then they stop by the police station to report the dead body, but by the time the police get there, it has disappeared along with all evidence of any crime. When Bernie returns to explore, Chet paws at a suspicious-looking lump and uncovers an explosive trigger. The pair barely escape alive.

Dirty cops, bogus Ukrainian financial schemes, shady politicians and planted corpses all come into play as Chet and Bernie engage in hazardous climbing and car chases in an attempt to bring down the bad guys.

The book’s title comes from Chet’s rarely used but effective method of getting his point across. It occurs only when Bernie is otherwise disabled --- like getting shot or knocked out, which of course hardly ever happens because Bernie is totally capable of taking care of himself.

TENDER IS THE BITE is the 11th installment in the series. Chet can’t count past the number two, so he’s not at all impressed with his popularity. But he’s on the job 24-7, and Bernie can rely on him at all times. The action never stops, and Chet’s memorable dialogue has me agreeing with Stephen King when he says this is “[w]ithout a doubt the most original mystery series currently available.”

Reviewed by Roz Shea on July 23, 2021

Tender Is the Bite: A Chet & Bernie Mystery
by Spencer Quinn

  • Publication Date: July 6, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250770246
  • ISBN-13: 9781250770240