Midwest Book Review: Thereby Hangs A Tail

“This book has two protagonists. Bernie Little, West Point graduate, veteran of the Gulf wars and ex-cop, is the human component, and Chet the K-9 schooled [notwithstanding that he washed out on the last day of that training] one-hundred pound canine with mis-matched ears who communicates with his owner/partner in his own doggie shorthand, an ability that can be confirmed by any dog owner.

Chet the dog and Bernie together comprise the Little Detective Agency. As Chet says, speaking of Bernie, “His interviewing skills and my nose: if you want my opinion, that’s what raised the Little Detective Agency above the rest.” When the prospect of a job paying $2,000 a day comes their way, and since Bernie finds himself in dire financial straits, he is sorely tempted, until he finds out that the job consists of guarding a blue-ribbon-winning show dog nicknamed Princess. It seems that threats have been made. Ultimately Bernie accepts the job, followed promptly by his being fired when Chet misbehaves. But when Princess and her owner are kidnapped, and the current object of Bernie’s affections, Suzie Sanchez, a journalist investigating the story, disappears as well, Bernie and Chet are on the case.

Chet is a devoted and loyal canine partner. He periodically reminds the reader that Bernie is “always the smartest human in the room,” and certainly has invaluable skills of his own. Chet faces his own dangerous situations in this second entry in the series. The book, and the series, is many things: Charming, funny, compulsively readable, suspenseful, and altogether delightful. I must admit that in general books with animals who talk – and especially animals which also solve, or assist in solving, crimes – are not among my favorite things. But Chet defies pigeonholing. The book is wholly original and hugely entertaining, and is highly recommended.”

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40 Responses to “Midwest Book Review: Thereby Hangs A Tail”

  1. ÄbbietheKitty
    3:32 am on May 8th, 2010

    Great Review, Chet.

    I don't understand these people who think that talking animals are not 'enjoyable'. And anyone who has partnered with an animal knows they can make their wishes known quite well although not everyone calls that 'talking'.

    Of course I was brought up on Dr. Doolittle, with GubGub and Polynesia and all the rest talking away. Even animals from other planets came to the Dr. and talked. Totally believable to me. 😀

    Also Alice Johnson and AbbietheKitty have no trouble letting me know what they want.

    >^..^<

  2. ÄbbietheKitty
    3:33 am on May 8th, 2010

    Dawson and I are going out for an early trip to the local Greenhouse. BBL.

    ~Staff

  3. B. Stover
    3:48 am on May 8th, 2010

    Nice review. I don't like the cop-out about "defies pigeonholing" though. Let's see, what makes Chet original? I shall ponder this.

    Rio: I liked "outrageous outbreaks of victory." Who is Manny Remirez? Sounds like a perp to me.

    I'm going to farmer's market.

  4. Melanie
    4:31 am on May 8th, 2010

    "Ultimately Bernie accepts the job, followed promptly by his being fired when Chet misbehaves." Hmmm. The Pack does not consider Chet misbehaving when he takes the treat. They feel, as others would from the Nation within the Nation, that the treat was there, it smelled good, time to eat.

    Like today at breakfast. Grace is off her food (hopefully because she's pregnant) and Zoë put some really good leftovers on her breakfast so she would eat. Katie, wanted Gracie's breakfast and Grace said, "Oh, no you don't," and ate it in front of Katie, slowly. Katie then turned back to her OWN breakfast, which had disappeared! Katie was shocked. The other dogs licked their chops.

    We bet she'll be very hungry this afternoon and eat her OWN dinner!

  5. Wolfie Wigglebutt
    4:35 am on May 8th, 2010

    Nice review, although the word "misbehaves" is a little harsh. Speaking as an expert on dogs (since I am one), I believe that "overly enthusiastic" is a little more acurate.

    IMHO

  6. Wolfie Wigglebutt
    4:37 am on May 8th, 2010

    Yes!! It is awesome having my boy home!! Happy, happy, happy!!

    And he smells so nice and clean! Cody and Wolfie are happy boys!!

  7. Wolfie Wigglebutt
    4:44 am on May 8th, 2010

    Not only do we understand what you say, we understand what you think!

    For example, Mom is thinking about cooking me some bacon and eggs.

    I hope.

  8. Wolfie Wigglebutt
    4:46 am on May 8th, 2010

    Katie – I would have done the same thing, all in the name of fairness!

    Today we are going to a carnival and a little league baseball game!

  9. Riö - The Evil
    5:33 am on May 8th, 2010

    Well!… Chet defies pigeonholing; of course he does. Chet is Chet. Pure and simple… snort!

    Stover!… ‘Perp’ is an excellent definition of Manny Ramirez… grunt!… I tend to think of him as an Over-rated, Over-fed, and now just Over LA Dodgers baseball player… heh!

    Today!… On Danvers Day, we are going to the grocery store so someone can buy distilled water and have her sinus rinse… cough!… and then later lunch with a friend at a Mexican restaurant where there will be Margarita’s a plenty!… woooo!… but none for me…oooow!

  10. B. Stover
    6:56 am on May 8th, 2010

    What I particularly liked about the scene when Chet takes Princess' treat and he and Bernie get fired, is how Chet feels and the "immediate" sense we have of his guilt at his "unprofessional" action. He won't even move so that his collar and tag stop poking him. Then Bernie scratches him, starts laughing and tells him that "they broke the mold." Partnership does not get any better than that!

  11. Riö - The Evil
    7:01 am on May 8th, 2010

    Guilt!… I don’t think I have ever felt as guilty as Chet did that day….snort!…And I’ve done a lot worse things than steal a treat!… grunt!… I hear the word “shameful” a lot in regards to some of my actions… heh!

  12. B. Stover
    7:09 am on May 8th, 2010

    Also, I know that Chet is original and defies pigeonholing. That's not really what I mean and I know I'm being unclear. I'm talking about the writing and Chet as first person narrator. I just finished reading Martha Grimes' new book and there are a dog and cat in parts of it. We are at times in their minds and can "hear" them talking to each other. (They're trying to get humans to do something.) There is a difference between that and the Chet narration but I haven't been able to figure out what.

    I think that you defy pigeonholing also Rio.

  13. Riö - The Evil
    7:20 am on May 8th, 2010

    Pigeon Toed! … Everyone here says “Thank God we didn’t get his brother and we only have one of him”… snort!… What exactly are they trying to insinuate by that comment? … grunt!

    Thanks!… Stover….mmmmm…. I think.

  14. Riö - The Evil
    7:29 am on May 8th, 2010

    Hmmmm!…. I wonder if that Mr. Abrahams is finished with his panel discussion by now? ….snicker! … Too bad one of us couldn’t have been there to ask him the important questions… wheeze!….Like, “How come we can’t put up photos by our blog names?”…

  15. Riö - The Evil
    8:04 am on May 8th, 2010

    Pepper!… Oh boy, I just found out we may be going to the farm today!…. weeee!… I can show off for my pal Pepper… grunt!… while trying to nip horses ankles without getting squashed….gulp!… There is always a fair amount of risk in our favorite past time …wheeze

  16. Siberian Husky
    8:05 am on May 8th, 2010

    Dogs are opportunists. We do not misbehave, nor are we thieves. We don't geel guilt, either. We're dogs! I am totally onboard with all this modern dog psychology. Positive dog training..love it!! Tons of treats coming my way.

    Great, well-deserved, review of the book, Chet. You are an original. I know one reason..because you are 100 percent pure dog, not some human's idea of warm and fuzzy that goes on in a dog's brain.

  17. Siberian Husky
    8:08 am on May 8th, 2010

    Melanie? When will we know if Grace is expecting? We are all looking forward to being Siberspace Godparents.

  18. Siberian Husky
    8:14 am on May 8th, 2010

    Be Careful Rio. Horses weigh tons more than you and I do, but if you can get nip in for me, GO FOR IT!

  19. B. Stover
    8:53 am on May 8th, 2010

    In the scene I'm referring to, Chet does not feel guilt because he took Princess' treat. He feels guilt because they got fired.

  20. Siberian Husky
    11:09 am on May 8th, 2010

    Chet is special. He's a great role model for all of us dogs.

    When we were in Alaska, I asked Whitey if he felt guilty for escaping and causing his musher to be disqualified. He said "Nah, I had a good time in the wilderness. There is always next year".

    Us sled dogs aren't up to Chet's level yet. I don't think Rio is either.

  21. Wolfie Wigglebutt
    12:14 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Good question, Stover. What does make Chet so original?

    This make time some serious pondering…..

    Rio – I'm afriad to ask, but what exactly have you done that is worse than helping yourself to a treat. Sam, my buddy, and Baxter, the dog next door ate our sofa. Now that was shameful.

    I, Wolfie, did not eat the sofa because I liked it. Now we have a blue sofa that I don't like so much.

    I was wrong. First we did a dump run, and it looks like the carnival will happen tomorrow. That's fine by me. I'm ready for a sooze. Cody and his friend David are playing video games. Ah….just like old times! Life is good!

  22. Wolfie Wigglebutt
    12:21 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Happy birthday, Magpie! I forget, what canine type are you? And I'm assuming that Barb is your mom?

  23. Melanie
    12:39 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Whew, getting ready for Oldest tattoo artist son to come for Mother's Day. I feel like you do Wolfie!! If I had a tail I would be wagging it!

    Siber-H: We find out if Grace is pregnant on Monday! If she is, all of you will be Cyber Godparents around June 7th.

    B Stover: I am thinking about what makes Chet Chet, instead of some of the other dogs and cats in the "fiction" world. So far, the only thing I've come up with is the others seem to be filtered through a person's perspective, while Chet is mainstreaming the Archetype DOG. (If Jung had had an Archetype for Dog, seems to me he missed out on that one.)

  24. B. Stover
    1:30 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Melanie: I understand what you're saying and agree. Mungo (the dog) and Morris (the cat) in Grimes' The Black Cat are supposed to be narrating their own thoughts–not through the perspective of a person. At one point Mungo is jealous of Morris' ability to fold his paws under his chest; Mungo keeps trying to do that and can't. I still have to think about it.

  25. Jasper the Poodle
    1:37 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Melanie: just wondering here…might you have a tattoo?

  26. B. Stover
    1:38 pm on May 8th, 2010

    I just thought of something: Chet's voice is, of course, first person narrative mode. In the Grimes example, Mungo and Morris' narrative mode is third person. Can it be that simple?

  27. Melanie
    2:09 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Hmm, B Stover, that third person takes the reader one step further away from the character, you might be on to something there.

    Jasper: no tattoos here! I don't want one, but he has also told me that I will never get one. My sons have ideas of who I am and having a tattoo is not part of that picture. My best friend wants him to tattoo a freckle on her arm, so she can say she has a tattoo!

    Once I got a magnetic nose stud and picked them up after they visited their father. They nearly died with embarrassment. I loved it. I spend a lot of time figuring out ways to embarrass them.

  28. Melanie
    2:45 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Night all, storms rolling in, time to unplug the computer.

  29. Riö - The Evil
    3:41 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Opportunists! …. I like that description for us guys! … snort!…. I know when I see an opportunity that will benefit me I take it and run! ….grunt!…

    Traiter!… They tried so hard to get some good photos of me today at the farm but I would not sit still!… heh!… Finally they got Pepper to betray me and lie on my front leg to hold me down! …grunt! …I thought she was my pal, but now I’m not so sure ….snort!… She farts a lot too! … nasty!… I had to close my eye to keep them from stinging and watering.

    [img ]http://www.chetthedog.com/wp-content/uploads/1273365647-rio_pepper_may8.jpg[/img]

  30. Riö - The Evil
    4:24 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Horses!… We didn’t get to play with the horses today… snort!… The wind was so bad that we had to stay inside… wheeze!… Wind makes allergies act up big time!… grunt!… and now its getting all dark and cloudy like lightning (shudder!) and thunder (growl!)… sniff!… I am staying close to my friend tonight! … cough!… The Rocks play the Dodgers again! … grunt!… A very good chance to make up for last nights one point loss…drat!

  31. Siberian Husky
    4:35 pm on May 8th, 2010

    I needed that photo, Rio, to cheer me up. Pepper looks like a patient lady to me, somewhat resigned to the situation. I hope she doesn't know about Bess.

    Mom says to tell you that you look cute with your eyes closed. I think the word she used was "adorable".

    The flower pot and the fishing line are not working-it has encountered ice. Balls of tar are washing up on the beaches in Alabama. They haven't given up entirely on the containment dome. We wish them every success.

  32. Riö - The Evil
    5:06 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Crap and Double Crap!… The flower pot fishing pole scheme isn’t working?…. snort!…We have been away and not catching the news today… sigh!… Also, #99 is back in play tonight… grrrrr!… Manny!… Now I am really revved up for tonight’s game… growl!… It will take my mind off the oil spill… cough!

  33. Siberian Husky
    5:16 pm on May 8th, 2010

    so, the perp has returned

  34. Riö - The Evil
    5:21 pm on May 8th, 2010

    yup… grrrr!… keep a tight eye on him SH… snort!

  35. Riö - The Evil
    5:29 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Wow! Wow!… Its food on the floor night tonight!!… yippee!… gulp!…. Rockies 6-0 Top of the First! … ooo there’s a chip!… woooo!

  36. ÄbbietheKitty
    5:41 pm on May 8th, 2010

    So Rio, when the game gets exciting is that when the food hits the floor?

    AbbietheKitty (who loves her treats any way she gets them)

  37. Riö - The Evil
    6:06 pm on May 8th, 2010

    AbbieTheKat!… Yes!… I believe I explained this phenomenon last night using the expression “outrageous outbreaks of victory.” … wheeze!… This is when food is thrown up in the air with shouts of joy and extreme excitement. … snort!… You should really be here tonight – it’s a floor buffet! … heh!

  38. Riö - The Evil
    6:23 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Hmmmm… It’s the Twilight Zone… sniff!….Alone or not alone? This is the question… snort!… Rocks 7-0 …. heeeee!

  39. Riö - The Evil
    7:43 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Tomorrow!…. Someone is going to ask Someone else how the Danvers panel discussion went…grunt!…For once I hope Someone in the audience decided to throw something at that Someone… heh!… Nothing hard or sharp mind you….snort!… Maybe a big blue rubber ball, or a squeaky toy… heh!… Just to get his attention….cough!… That’s what I would do… heh!

  40. Riö - The Evil
    8:01 pm on May 8th, 2010

    Alone! … Rocks are winning; I have had time to think about other things… snort!… I have this terrible over-whelming feeling tonight. Our author has just won a very prestige’s award….snort!… He may not need the blog anymore! … sniff!… He may become way too busy to even be around much to write stories for us and entertain us… sob! … I truly hope this does not happen… sigh… I’ve just become a regular visitor.

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