‘Fistful of Collars’ fetches Chet back to readers

Spencer Quinn, as Stephen King has said, speaks fluent dog.

Quinn – a pseudonym for a writer who is no doubt still somewhat surprised to have become a best-selling writer of mysteries from a dog’s point of view – has written five books now about Chet the dog and his master, Bernie Little, operator of a one-man-and-one-dog private detective agency in a sleepy suburb of L.A.

More surprising than the success of the series is that the books are narrated by Chet, the “100-plus-pounder” who flunked out of K-9 school when he got a little too enthusiastic.

Enthusiasm is Chet’s strong point, along with tail-wagging, biting perps when necessary and recounting the cases he and Bernie take on.

If you think the Chet and Bernie books are too cutesy by far – cutesy beyond the clever names, including the latest, “A Fistful of Collars” – you’re wrong. What they are is an enjoyable exercise in narrative style, relying on a somewhat unreliable narrator who gets distracted by errant hot dogs and sometimes falls asleep during long discussions of the finer points of his and Bernie’s latest case.

The new book isn’t one of my favorites, with a cast of Hollywood characters – Chet and Bernie are hired to babysit a big movie star – I couldn’t bring myself to care about.

But the book does have Chet and Bernie and equally dependable Susie, Bernie’s girlfriend. And that’s enough for a fun read.

If you’re a dog lover, you can’t go wrong with these funny, witty stories.

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