GalleyCat Review

Spence says GalleyCat is a cool book site; maybe, but what’s the cat part all about?

Doggone Funny: GalleyCat Reviews Thereby Hangs a Tail by Spencer Quinn

Reviewed by P.E. Logan

Not since Timmy and Lassie has there been such a winning human/canine duo as Bernie Little and Chet, the protagonist and narrator, respectively, of Spencer Quinn’s ultra-charming mystery, Thereby Hangs A Tail. Like last year’s debut, Dog On It, this lighthearted detective romp is set in the American Southwest and centers on the missing persons caseload of the Little Detective Agency.

The novel is told from the viewpoint of Chet, a K-9 drop out (“long story,” as Chet says) who refers to himself as Bernie’s “partner” in the Agency. From the cover art, Chet appears to be a shepherd-mix and his self-description is that he is a bounding “100-pounder.” From the random thoughts and musings that pop into his over-active dog brain, he is a combination of Mr. Peabody, the clever cartoon dog, and Ed Norton the spacey neighbor from The Honeymooners. In other words: utterly irresistible.

Quinn, a.k.a. veteran thriller writer Peter Abrahams, successfully captures what we love best about dogs: their single-minded devotion to the task at hand; the ability to rise from a dead sleep and leap into action to snag a Frisbee or a pant leg on our behalf; and their undying loyalty and faith. “Who’s better than Bernie?” Chet frequently comments about his ex-cop master who is frequently down on his luck and financially very unlucky. In Chet’s mind, no one.

Chet is not a talking dog, just one that thinks out loud. His amusing interior dialogue aptly reflects his fleeting canine attention span and Swiss cheese memory. “Did I mention that?” Chet asks the reader in his frequent asides on a multitude of tangents including his love of trumpets, the Discovery Channel, Bernie’s young son Charlie (“Hi Chet the Jet”) who’s not around much since the divorce and food. Yes, Chet has brought up these factoids before but this is Quinn’s cleverness, to get inside a dog’s mind in a way that we don’t doubt what Chet is thinking or that he is telling us this story.

Chet is hyperbolic in his thoughts and confirms what we believe about dogs; that they are genuinely happy to be with us and live in the moment. “What’s better than this?” Chet exclaims each time he snags a perp, scares off a stray javelina desert pig, rides shotgun in Bernie’s beaten up Porsche with the wind in his ears or scarfs down endless chew strips, bacon and crullers.

The case before Chet and Bernie this time is the abduction of a wealthy contessa and her prize-winning show dog, Princess, shortly before the Great Western Dog Show. Also missing is Bernie’s main squeeze prospect, local newspaper reporter Suzie Sanchez. The mystery is easily solvable by the reader, but you meet a good cast of characters including whacked-out desert hippies, jealous dog show competitors and dubious law enforcements agents.

The Bernie and Suzie relationship woes are nicely captured by Chet who has many philosophical moments to share about humans and the way they act. “What’s up with that,” Chet thinks when it comes to why humans even have noses if they can barely smell through them.

The books in this series are the most fun you’ll have between the covers all season. But don’t take my word for it. My dog Mr. Scott gave this novel a good sniffing. Having chewed the Gourmet Cookbook and Anna Karenina he is a discerning consumer of quality books. One look at him and I could tell his review, other than bacon, what’s better than this?

P.E. Logan is communications professional and a writer in New York. She has worked at various adult trade publishing houses including Random House, Putnam, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster for almost three decades. She now works at The New York Times. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and other periodicals.

Today at noon (eastern), Spencer Quinn on BlogTalkRadio -http://www.blogtalkradio.com/mrmedia/2010/02/10/interview-spencer-quinn-chet-the-dog-novelist-dog-on-it-thereby-hangs-a-tail

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2010 at 8:00 am and is filed under Chet The Dog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

44 Responses to “GalleyCat Review”

  1. Melanie
    4:12 am on February 10th, 2010

    OH NO! Spencer must be named Spencer Peter Abrahams Quinn!

    So Spence has four names.

    One of my sons has four names.

    He is cool.

    That means that SPAQ must also be cool.

    I'm a logistic genius!

    By the way, I have just finished Nerve Damage by that other dude. Very good.

  2. Gus & BooBear
    4:38 am on February 10th, 2010

    What an awesome, right-on review!! You rock, Chet & Bernie !!

  3. Cosmo
    4:45 am on February 10th, 2010

    Chet I think the cats must be growing on you by now! Great review guys!

    Melanie, SPAQ does sound pretty cool…Here's the rest of my report from Spence's radio interview yesterday. I see he's doing another one today on Blogtalkradio (whatever that is) but I'm way too busy to gather intel on that one, so if anyone else can do it, we can compare notes.

    No official realease date of book three, but it will be out sometime this year.

    Spence starts writing around 8:00 AM, he likes to write about 500-1000 words everyday, and does this blog first. Said he's never had writer's block.

    In the past he would watch his dogs for hours while writing at home.

    Besides violent threats, he's gotten threats of readers not reading the series anymore if anything bad happened to Chet.

    He likes how lots of people, especially here & on the friends of Chet page treat their dogs like equal partners.

    As of yesterday, it's official that 'Dog On It' WILL become a movie.

    Kinda have mixed views about that. I mean we love movies and all, but after reading so many books – I can't say there is one movie ever that was as good as the book – oh well! There you have it guys. Catch you later, tailwags, Cosmo

  4. Barb & Maggie
    4:59 am on February 10th, 2010

    Hey Chet! Mom said she read a great review of THAT this morning. She said P.E.Logan really captured the essence of the characters, but I don't think we captured anything. What's up with that? Mom said she is telling all her human friends about you. Gotta go, my eyelids are getting heavy. Maggie

  5. Gus & BooBear
    5:09 am on February 10th, 2010

    Wow, a movie!! It will be interesting to see how they cast Chet !

  6. B. Stover
    5:51 am on February 10th, 2010

    I agree that books are always better than movies, but it's awesome that Dog On It will be made into a movie! Wonder who will write the screenplay.

  7. ALR
    5:55 am on February 10th, 2010

    Timmie and Lassie? Come on….those whiners? Other than that I concur with this review. Good work, Chet and gang.

  8. Cosmo
    6:05 am on February 10th, 2010

    B. – just popped back in for a minute, due to technical difficulties beyond our control, the signal was going in and out (that's why we missed the part about the SPAQ identity!) but we did catch the screenplay is supposed to be done by the same guy who did Hotel For Dogs.

  9. Melanie
    6:15 am on February 10th, 2010

    Awesome, Dog on It a movie! Now if they could just make Bernie in his 20's and red haired, my struggling actor son could be Bernie.

    Actually, he would make a better Chet! LOL

  10. Rio - The Evil Pug
    6:17 am on February 10th, 2010

    Guys!…I can't gain access to blogtalkradio broadcast!…gruff!…someone will have to volunteer to communicate the Intel back to us….Snort!…why do I always feel like my paws are tied?….grrrrr!

  11. Melanie
    6:27 am on February 10th, 2010

    So I went to http://www.blogtalkradio.com and search Spencer Quinn. He's on at 12 and I will receive an email at 11:45 (memory not the best) to remind me. If I can get it to work I will write how I got on!

    General Rio, if I can get on (we know how long it took us the last time) I will report.

    The Newfs are happy! They love dog movies. Bess watches the TV and then when the barking on the TV ensues, she starts barking and all the other dogs run out the dog door. Having nine Newfs running through the house and then piling up at the dog door to get out is a loud hoot!

    Bess just sits there and says Not out there, you idiots, they're in the rectangle thingy.

  12. Melanie
    7:36 am on February 10th, 2010

    Okay Gen. Rio.

    First Chet talked. Mr. Media had an interesting time talking with Chet.

    Chet is big on naps.

    Chet sees no difference between human food and dog food. He feels its just a distinction made by humans.

    He then had to go out.

    Spencer came on.

    The new book will be called "To Bark, Perchance to Bite."

    He feels that he channels Chet. There is a Chet part of him. (That is so obvious)

    Chet's relationships with other dogs is very dog like and when he meets female dogs that are interesting a curtain is drawn.

    The movie thing came up. Same info as above.

    He feels that Chet has allowed him to wonder what Aubrey is thinking.

    As when he is raking leaves and she is un-raking them.

    She looks like a smaller Bernises (sp?) Mountain Dog.

    Oh, and there is a web site where we can down load an free audio book but being a multi-tasker and a bad speller I wasn't able to get down.

    Any help there anyone?

  13. Wookie of Chevy Chas
    7:39 am on February 10th, 2010

    Rio. Quick report here from PFC Wookie. Tech support, I mean Mom, got it to work and we heard almost the whole thing. Chet was on first. Stressed that he was an American dog, believed in capitalism, but no dog product endorsements yet, although willing to listen to opportunities. Chet had to depart (some business to tend to in the yard; I think you understand), and then Spence came on. It got a bit weird here, in terms of the relationship between Spence, Chet and this Peter Abrahams guy, something about channeling and voices, very hard to understand. Seems like Chet misplaced his sense of irony, whatever that is, and some stuff about post modern threads too. I don't know, he wasn't making a lot of sense to me. Reconfirmation of news from Cosmo — third book will be out this year and movie may be in the works too. Peanut is an elephant, by the way, and he's gone missing, but I am sure that Chet saves the day once again. Whew! I need to catch my breath. Maybe others in our group can add more. Still snowing here too, it just keeps coming and coming, but at least we still have power. And treats! Later, PFC Wookie signing off.

  14. Melanie
    7:43 am on February 10th, 2010

    Wookie, You did better than I! Did you get the web address for the free audio?

  15. Rio - The Evil Pug
    7:51 am on February 10th, 2010

    Wow!…Damn good reporting Agents!…grunt!…my head is spinning with all this new information….snort!…I don't know what Evil Force is always keeping me from Not beingg able to hear these interviews myself!…

  16. Wookie of Chevy Chas
    7:52 am on February 10th, 2010

    Sorry, Melanie. I didn't (but I'll check with tech support, I mean Mom) to see if she can help.

  17. Wookie of Chevy Chas
    8:07 am on February 10th, 2010

    Melanie — I think the link is audiblepodcast.com, and then you need to click on mrmedia after signing up. BTW, everyone, if you go the link http://www.blogtalkradio.com and register, you can listen to the entire interview, even now. I'd report more, but I hear some treats calling me. PFC W

  18. Wookie of Chevy Chas
    8:11 am on February 10th, 2010

    Melanie — slight correction, http://www.audiblepodcast.com/mrmedia ; that should do it.

    Wooks

  19. Siberian Husky
    9:04 am on February 10th, 2010

    Thanks for the great reporting guys. What with the time difference, dog park, breakfast, and naps, I'm hitting this site too late to catch any live broadcasts.

    Chet is a whole lot more fun than Lassie. I could help Chet with the girl thing, but Chet doesn't need a girlfriend. I don't have a girlfriend. I have girlfriends.

    We are looking forward to the movie. I know I'll get to see this one when it comes out on dvd–no dogs in movie theaters, bummer. Eight Below is in mom's dog collection of dvds, but she won't watch it. She will never watch it, but Dog on It we can all watch together.

    Mom's favorite book so far by the other dude is Their Wildest Dreams. It has a lot of humor in it.

  20. (Ariel Segal and) Lu
    9:58 am on February 10th, 2010

    Hey Wookie! How are you doing in the snow? My owners carved me out a nice potty spot in the grass from the snow-I really appreciate it. I live in Kemp Mill, Silver Spring, Maryland. Where in Chevy Chase do you live? Maybe we could have a play date!

    My owner is reading a wonderful book about the nation within the nation: Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, trying to understand how we perceive the world. See interview with author Alexandra Horowitz here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK6XLO9pwdg

    Here is a picture of me on Thanksgiving with my family and friends.

    Stay warm!

    Wags, Lucy

    [img ]http://www.chetthedog.com/wp-content/uploads/1265831904-LucyThanksgivingPic.jpg[/img]

  21. Rebecca Rice
    9:58 am on February 10th, 2010

    And see, this afternoon, I'm in a little bit of pain, so not very clear headed. And my first thought on reading all of this? SPAQ– as in, the way Captain James Tiberius Kirk does it in Star Trek, whispered hoarsely and melodramatically, pronounced "Spock…"

    And I'm not even on any pain medication!

  22. (Ariel Segal and) Lu
    10:39 am on February 10th, 2010

    Hey Wookie! I live in Kemp Mill, Silver Spring, MD. Do you want to have a playdate sometime?

    See this video about the wonderful book about the nation within the nation my owners are reading:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK6XLO9pwdg&fe

    Here is a pic with my owners, and their friends and relatives on Thanksgiving!

    Wags, Lucy

    [img ]http://www.chetthedog.com/wp-content/uploads/1265834363-LucyThanksgivingPic.jpg[/img]

  23. (Ariel Segal and) Lu
    10:42 am on February 10th, 2010

    Testing…Testing. My previous 2 posts didn't work.

    I live in Kemp Mill, Silver Spring, MD. Wookie, do you want a playdate?

    Wags, Lucy

  24. Barb & Maggie
    11:07 am on February 10th, 2010

    Hey Chet! Can't wait for that movie and the new book. Wow! This photo was taken when me and Mom were in the barn. I was doing one of my jobs, which is to check the goats and the donkey. Donkeys are not as bad as horses, but sometimes when I look at those skinny little legs, I just want to give them a good nip. The goats (3 I think, but not too sure on that one), are sort of scary, what with those horns and the butting thing. Not as scary as snakes or bears though. Oh boy, I better go find Mom. Maggie

    [img ]http://www.chetthedog.com/wp-content/uploads/1265836006-Mag in barn (Small).jpg[/img]

  25. Diane
    11:21 am on February 10th, 2010

    What a great review by PE Logan!

    As for a movie…. I'm disappointed before it's even made! How can a movie come close to illuminating the wonderfulness of Chet's mind?

    How can a movie capture what is so terriffic about these books???

    It can't! Case closed!

  26. Rio - The Evil Pug
    11:37 am on February 10th, 2010

    Agent Mel!… don’t write “how to get on”…grunt!… write what Spence says!… I CANNOT GET ON THE SITE…Blocked…GRRRR.

  27. Diane Brodson
    2:26 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Snort indeed. Did I ever tell you how much I love pugs?

  28. Rio - The Evil Pug
    2:50 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Diane!…Not that I remember!…Snort!… You can tell me over and over again if you like…WoooWooo!

  29. Rio - The Evil Pug
    3:09 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Wookie!… you are a real popular Chap these days!…Snort!…when you go on that playdate with Lucy…grunt!…find out if she can be 'useful'.

  30. AbbietheKitty
    3:13 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Hi guys!

    Great job on the reporting. It is a bummer that the staff's work blocks access to all the fun parts of the computers. I don't know what they expect her to do all day. Take care of Customers?

    Hey Commander Rio, Cosmo and Mollypop. How are things going? We got a few more inches of snow and now the yard has about 2-1/2 feet in it and you should see how high it is on the boulevards. Over the staff's head. Minneapolis will start one side parking restrictions tonight to make sure fire trucks can get down the side streets. Until April first they say.

    At least we are used to snow. I can't imagine what people in DC and other eastern states that hardly ever see snow are going through.

    How about some posts from the snowed upon dogs who are not used to a lot of snow. So interesting to see what is going on elsewhere.

    Abbie the Kitty (who stays indoors, no matter what)

  31. AbbietheKitty
    3:16 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Hey Lucy and Maggie, Great pictures! Love that Thanksgiving time. Lots of extra food seems to find it's way down to my level.

    I am thinking about the Chet and Bernie movie. Who do we envision as Bernie?

    Anybody we know in Hollywood already?

    hmmmmmm

    Got to think about that one.

    Cmdr Rio, any thoughts?

    A-Kat

  32. Rio - The Evil Pug
    3:16 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Rice!…Snort!..HA!..Spock… Grunt!

  33. Rio - The Evil Pug
    3:27 pm on February 10th, 2010

    A-Kat!… Here are my thoughts…snort!… Nobody can be Bernie and Nobody sure as Hell can be Chet….mmmmphf!…except Bernie and Chet themselves… They live in my mind very comfortably, and I willnevereverseethephuggingmovieifmylifedependsonit.

    Growl!…any word from Alice?

  34. Cosmo
    3:43 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Hi Everyone – wow, thanks for the great reports agents Mel & Wookie! Great pics Lucy and Maggie! Maggie you must have a blast in the barn – the smells….don't get me started! I was in a barn once, I never wanted to leave! I had to miss you guys almost all day because I had to WORK! Here I am modeling for Mom in her studio. Did I get extra treats? No. A walk? No. A steak? No. I might have to go on strike – honestly, I'm just too nice.

    A-Kat and Wookie, can you send some of your snow our way? I am sooo bummed, they cancelled everything here today thinking we were going to get almost a foot, we got like TWO

    [img ]http://www.chetthedog.com/wp-content/uploads/1265852282-Mom's working partner close up.JPG[/img]

  35. Cosmo
    3:45 pm on February 10th, 2010

    That other comment went up before I was ready! Well, now I know why Lucy put her pics in twice – mine didn't show up yet, but we'll see. Catch ya later – Tailwags, Cosmo

  36. AbbietheKitty
    4:22 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Hey Rio,

    Alice says that she would be willing to play cards on Friday night. She is not sure about dinner though. She is such a suspicious cat.

    She is wondering what games you play. She knows Hand and Foot
    http://www.pagat.com/rummy/handfoot.html
    and Insane.

    Just makes you wonder doesn't it?

    Someone tried to teach her Tic but she didn't want to have anything to do with that.

    A-Kat

  37. Rio - The Evil Pug
    4:34 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Diane!…Lets face it. Spence has sold his soul to Hollywood…Snort!…Greed! its all about Greed!

  38. Barb & Maggie
    5:04 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Hey, thanks for the shout out, Cosmo. You're right, love the barn smells. Did I tell you that Mom has a few chickens, too? That's another of my jobs. I have to chase them back into their pen when they escape into my territory. Sometimes I end up with some feathers in my mouth. Not sure how that happens. Maggie

  39. jenifer dawson
    5:55 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Dear Chet,

    My sister, Nancy Drew (who is a pretty good detective) told me I should read your book and was she ever right! (She's my older sister so she is usually right.) Now I'm reading it to two patients in a Long Term Care section of a hospital (ask Bernie). I have your second book but am waiting until I finish reading the first one to Lonnie Kozub and Gordon Philpott so we can all enjoy it together. And now we have discovered your blog – life is getting exciting and enjoyable again. Can we all get business cards? I'm asking for them too because they don't have a computer. If we can, you could send all three c/o Fort Nelson General Hosital, Bag 1000, Ft. Nelson, B.C. V0C 1R0 We love you Chet and Bernie.

  40. Rio - The Evil Pug
    5:57 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Maggie!…you are my kinda gal!…feathers!…Snort!

    A-Kat!…can you drag the Friday date out a bit?…Grrrrr!… the final planning is not complete.. Arrgh!… I’ve been under the weather and not on top of my game…Snort!..what the hell!?…At a time like this?

  41. AbbietheKitty
    6:31 pm on February 10th, 2010

    So are you adding hacking and coughing and sneezing to your snorting and grunting? Sheesh. Staff gets upset when her hubbie just snores a little. I guess Alice can wait.

    Alice says she has some planning to do anyway. Something to do with a letter to be left with a trustworthy cat just in case.

    I never understand her. By the way she has very long fur and cards might get 'stuck' in it, don't ya know.

    Oh, and Alice says Date? Heck NO, just an appointment.

    Be careful Rio.

    And you didn't hear it from me.

    A-kat

  42. Cosmo
    8:47 pm on February 10th, 2010

    Just realized my first comment reads like we could’ve gotten two feet – we got two INCHES of snow!

  43. Rebecca Rice
    7:02 am on February 11th, 2010

    Jennifer Dawson, that's the coolest!

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