I mean, I am almost home. I found a parking spot, and a minute before getting out of the car, I told myself that maybe I’d read a word or two (we’ll get back to this strange habit of mine of reading in the car). So now I’m sitting in a parked car and reading for almost half an hour. The house is a minute and a half walk away, but I can’t seem to put the book down.
The book is narrated from the perspective of Chet, Bernie Little’s dog, the founder and half-owner of ‘Little Detective Agency, Ltd.’
Chet, a trained police dog (with a certain degree, not that he ever finished, and that’s why he ended up with Bernie), describes the events innocently and in a hyperactive style, jumping from subject to subject, in typical canine fashion. There are moments in the book when he can’t control his tail or when he misses (and we miss with him) whole sections of conversations just because he smells leftovers under the table or catches the scent of something interesting.
The plot itself is quite standard. A divorced private investigator, a former cop with financial problems, takes on a case involving the disappearance of a teenage girl.
Another thing that could have been problematic in the book is the lack of depth in the human characters. We have no information about them—no background, motivations, or exposition. Nothing. The only one who gets any treatment is Bernie, which makes sense since Bernie is Chet’s whole world. Chet is loyal to his owner and loves him as only a dog can. So, when he describes him, he says that Bernie has the second-best smell in the world (after his own, of course). Also, Bernie is the closest person to him. They’ve lived together for many years; during that time, Chet has come to know him like no one else ever will. He’s the only one who can convey persuasive information, even though he often sprinkles it with bits and pieces, maybe because it doesn’t seem relevant to him.
So, while the plot itself isn’t particularly groundbreaking, the storytelling is so enjoyable that it doesn’t matter. Chet’s small insights about the human race and his descriptions of his canine behavior could have been annoying or turned into dumb gimmicks, but it’s well-written and works beautifully. In the end, these are the elements that make the book what it is.
All in all, without delving too deeply, it is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read.
In a more appropriate book rating approach, five barks.
Dog on It / Spencer Quinn / Atria Books