A Fistful of Collars is the fifth Chet and Bernie mystery from Spencer Quinn. Quinn’s novels are notable in that they are told from the perspective of Bernie’s dog Chet. And not the sort of story telling where Chet essentially sounds like a human that walks around on 4 legs and has fur. Chet actually thinks like a dog. Being a dog lover, I absolutely adore Chet and his unique take on life.
Chet and Bernie make up the Little Detective Agency, private investigators (Chet is a partner, not a pet) who work on everything from divorce cases to missing person cases to special cases for friends–like this one where Bernie and Chet are hired to “keep an eye on” Thad Perry, the leading actor in a movie being filmed in the Valley where Bernie and Chet live. Of course this turns out to be not as simple as it originally appears, and Bernie and Chet are eventually drawn into a cold case murder investigation centered around Thad.
While the “mystery” part of these mystery novels really isn’t anything special, being inside Chet’s head is. You only know what he knows, so if his mind wanders and he doesn’t pay attention to a conversation, you as the reader miss valuable plot points. But you don’t really care, because it’s much more interesting listening to Chet think about old cases, and perps who are now wearing orange jumpsuits and breaking rocks in the hot sun after Chet grabbed their pant’s leg. There are also some cute moments with Bernie’s son Charlie, who Bernie and Chet only get to see every other weekend, since Bernie and his wife are divorced. Bernie’s girlfriend Suzie is a fun character also. She is a reporter who occasionally pops up and helps Bernie with his cases. Chet likes her since she always has a treat for him.
I think my favorite parts are the ones where Chet doesn’t realize he is the one barking. Or, when he chases after a squirrel, hears Bernie calling him and thinks “How did I get over here?” or something along those lines. He adores riding in the car with Bernie (he is a front-seat dog, much like mine) and he doesn’t like cats. His mind wanders, and he ends up telling you about the desert, or the bikers he met once, and then can’t remember what he started thinking in the first place. I can absolutely imagine my dog thinking the same things, and I think that’s why I enjoy these books so much. They do all sound a little the same, with variations in the plot. But I don’t mind I love them anyway, and I’ll keep reading them.
Happy reading, everyone! And stay safe if you are in Frankenstorm’s path!