Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wow! I Stumbled Upon Something!

Recently I was in my home town library in San Marcos, TX, looking for an audio book to listen to on my drive back to my 2nd place in Huntsville. I came across a selection with an engaging cover showing a dog, a Southwest setting, and a pun. The word mystery was also included. That was enough for me. A mystery with a dog as a character? That was enough for me! The punny title was Thereby Hangs a Tail. I decided to give it a try.

Thus I found myself driving home the next day, alternately chuckling and laughing out loud. Chet, the canine half of this detective team, is also the narrator. He is very smart, incredibly brave, and completely devoted to his master, Bernie. But he is a DOG. He understands a great deal of what the humans say, but has trouble with idioms. For instance when a friend tells Bernie, "You look like something the cat drug in," Chet is mystified. How can that be? There are no cats around...Bernie is so big...

Coupled with the narration from a dog's mind, there is an engaging mystery about a kidnapping, murder, and some corrupt lawmen. Needless to say Chet and Bernie close the case, like always. The series that has four books so far. Along the way I felt like I was picking up some real insights into how a dog thinks.

Back in San Marcos this week, I picked up another book in the series, The Dog Who Knew Too Much. But I felt a little guilty for reading these light books when I could instead be reading some great YA titles. Tonight I decided to learn a bit more about the author, Spencer Quinn. That's when I realized I had stumbled onto something. Spencer Quinn is a pen name for YA author Peter Abrahams. He is well known and recognized for his YA mysteries including Reality Check and Into the Dark. He also writes under his real name for younger readers, with books like Quacky Baseball. I have to confess I have not read his books for young readers, but now I can feel a bit virtuous for enjoying books by an author known and loved by youngsters.

The Chet and Bernie books are tons of fun. There is enough "adult material" to satisfy adult readers, but I would have them in my high school libraries as well. Give Chet and Bernie a try and I do recommend the audio, read by Jim Frangione. You'll be doggone glad you did!

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