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Heart of Barkness: A Chet and Bernie Mystery

Review

Heart of Barkness: A Chet and Bernie Mystery

HEART OF BARKNESS by Spencer Quinn brings back four-legged detective Chet and his sidekick, the two-legged Bernie Little. It's Bernie's detective agency, but both are aware that it takes two to solve most mysteries. Chet and Bernie are a team, and they are inseparable.

Bernie has just gotten out of the hospital after a near-death experience (read about it in SCENTS AND SENSIBILITY), and Chet is thrilled to be reunited with his other half. In their latest adventure, the duo meets Lotty Pilgrim, a country singer who seems to have hit rock bottom. She is playing in dives and lives on a small, run-down ranch. Her manager/boyfriend is much younger than her, and from the start, Bernie is no fan of his.

"While readers will feel Lotty's plight and worry about Bernie's romantic situation, they will chuckle while immersing themselves in Chet's wonderfully canine narrative."

The action begins when Chet and Bernie go to hear Lotty sing. Bernie puts a $100 bill in her tip jar, but the money gets stolen by someone at the bar. They go after the culprit, and what follows is just one part of what becomes the mystery and history of Lotty's life and her problems.

Chet's narration is spot-on doggy, with appropriate distractions (Slim Jims and steak smells) and some canine self-deprecating awareness. After all, when a dog is telling the story, there is definitely a bit of translation needed. But Chet is one sharp animal, and he catches things that mere humans might overlook.

Chet explains it beautifully when the individual grabs the money from the tip jar: "Something sneaky was going down. I knew that in a flash. You might be thinking, Wow Chet, how fast your mind works! But you'd be wrong. My mind had nothing to do with it. My teeth were the smart ones. Sneakiness gives them this powerful urge, the urge to...to do something, let's leave it at that."

So they chase the thief, recover the money but not the guy, and consider it done. It's not. The ties that connect the different characters, the obvious good guys and the obvious and not-so-obvious bad guys, are sometimes hard to see. But Chet and Bernie have a special power --- that of the dog and human bond --- and they go where others might fail.

Quinn's narrative, via Chet, is touching but also humorous. While readers will feel Lotty's plight and worry about Bernie's romantic situation, they will chuckle while immersing themselves in Chet's wonderfully canine narrative.

Mystery lovers devour the Chet and Bernie series. Dog lovers do, too. No fleas involved.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on July 19, 2019

Heart of Barkness: A Chet and Bernie Mystery
by Spencer Quinn

  • Publication Date: July 2, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250297729
  • ISBN-13: 9781250297723