The perfect way to relax? Let Chet give you a dog’s eye view of him and Bernie cracking a case involving murder, abduction, hippies, sheriffs and showdogs in the California desert.
I first met Chet and Bernie, the dog and human team that make up The Little Detective Agency, in ‘Dog On it’. I had a great time. I was impressed by Spencer Quinn’s humour and by his ability to tell a detective story from the point of view of a very believable dog who has a tendency to forget details like why they’re chasing someone but will always remember anywhere with a good smell or the possibility of food.
I listened to the audiobook version of the first book and I’d have liked to have read the rest of the series that way, but no audiobook version is available in the UK so I tried ‘Thereby Hangs A Tail’ as an ebook and I’m glad to say that the humour comes across just as well.
‘Thereby Hangs A Tail’ has all the things you’d want from a cosy mystery: a relentless, slightly quirky PI, a suspect-rich environment ranging from ageing hippies, shady sheriffs, biker snipers, Las Vegas big shots and Italian Counts; an insight into the competitive dog show world and the spectacular scenery of the California desert, including a falling-apart Ghost Town.
What makes it exceptional, and a lot more fun, is that the story is told entirely from Chet’s point of view. What could be more life-affirming than being inside the head of a dog who wakes up each day feeling tip-top, loves riding shotgun in Bernie’s Porsche as they chase after bad guys, is proud that he and Bernie (always the smartest human in the room) wrap up a lot of cases, even if the details of most of them are a little fuzzy and is always on the lookout for bad guys, frisbees, tennis balls and discarded food.
If you’re a dog person, you’ll recognise Chet and you’ll smile. If you’re not a do person, take the time to meet Chet and your life might get better.
I love how Spencer Quinn imagines Chet’s thoughts. How he lets Chet get distracted while staying enthusiastic. How Chet loves stories but forgets details after a while, especially when the details are unpleasant. How Chet can lose himself in the pleasure of a long stretch. Most of all, I like Chet’s view of the human world. Here’s his view on wine:
‘Wine smells are pretty interesting—even humans are on to that. I love when they stick their little noses in the glass and go on about blackberries and chocolate and lemongrass—trust me, they haven’t got a clue.’
And here’s his take on Baseball:
‘We drove toward the sun, through a few neighborhoods a lot like our own, then past a baseball field with a kids’ game going on. I didn’t understand baseball, but it always looked like fun, and the ball itself I loved. Who’d have guessed what the insides were like?’
I recommend this book if you’re looking for a few hours spent in the company a great dog and his clever human, solving a decent mystery and having a lot of fun along the way.