Thereby Hangs A Tail Review –

“How,” says Spence, “are we going to get the business cards out to people who want them? Did you think of that?” Admin gives him a cold look. They don’t always get along, Spence and Admin. Meanwhile Bernie wants me to post this review. “Fredericksburg,” he says. “Big Civil War battle.” Uh-oh. I love Bernie, of course, but don’t get him started on Civil War battles.


January 17, 2010 12:36 am

IT’S ALWAYS a good sign when your friends and co-workers beg to read the first in a new mystery series after you review it.

And you know the sequel is every bit as good–if not better–when the wag who usually sniffs that he normally reads nothing but nonfiction barely comes up for air once he cracks it open.

Such is the case with “Thereby Hangs a Tail,” Spencer Quinn’s howlingly funny follow-up to “Dog On It.” The appeal here is the narrator, a mixed breed bruiser of a canine named Chet, who is all dog. No human characteristics for this pup, no sir.

Here’s a sample:

“I barked again, no real reason. We were on the job, out in the night, driving fast. Anything better than this? You tell me.”

Chet’s partner in taking a bite out of crime–and criminals, in Chet’s case–is one Bernie Little. He’s a former Marine and policeman with a penchant for booze, bad investments and a broad named Susie Sanchez who mysteriously disappears halfway through their latest case.

Luckily for Chet, Bernie is also smart, savvy and good at what he does, and the pair is gaining attention for their detective skills. Their work attracts the attention of Countess Adelina di Borghese, who hires Little Detective Agency to serve as bodyguard for Princess, a tiny ball of fluff entered in the Great Western Dog Show, and to sniff out why someone is mailing her threatening letters.

The case looks like an easy way to earn a couple grand a day–until Chet impulsively nabs a treat meant for Princess. He and Bernie are fired on the spot, but Bernie convinces Adelina’s husband, the Count di Borghese, to hire them back when she and Princess go missing.

The search for the abductors will lead them to a desert ghost town, cause a separation that will nearly send Chet to Alaska, and touch off a frantic search for Susie, who disappears while tracking down a story about the di Borgheses for her paper.

Along the way there’s a subplot about Bernie’s hasty bet on tin futures that will involve several trips to Mr. Singh’s pawnshop to cover his position and Chet’s hilarious confusion about various famous people’s names.

“Wild Bill Hickock?” he says at one point. “Sounded like a perp, although I didn’t remember him; but hard to remember them all–we’d cleared so many cases, me and Bernie.”

Do any other doggone mysteries get better than this? You tell me.

Cathy Jett


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This entry was posted on Sunday, January 17th, 2010 at 8:38 am and is filed under Chet The Dog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

13 Responses to “Thereby Hangs A Tail Review –”

  1. B. Stover
    4:15 am on January 17th, 2010

    Spence and Admin: You could set up an online order form.

    Good review except that I object to Suzie being called a "broad."

  2. Melanie
    4:49 am on January 17th, 2010

    Lovely review. Don't know if this will work, but there is THAT . . .

    Number 25!!

    6:55 am on January 17th, 2010

    Too early for THAT to show up, but check out this list of paperbacks — Dog On It is still going strong at #4. (And #5 is making me drool…)

    Cool site for mystery fans :
    The following were the bestselling books at member bookstores of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association in December:


    1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Vintage)

    2. The Private Patient by P.D. James (Vintage)

    3. Eggs Benedict Arnold by Laura Childs (Berkley)

    4. Dog on It by Spencer Quinn (Atria)

    5. The Price of Butcher's Meat by Reginald Hill (Harper)

    6. Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell (Back Bay)

    7. Tower by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman (Busted Flush)

    8. Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear (Picador)

    9. Mrs. Malory and Any Man's Death by Hazel Holt (Berkley)

    10. Thai Die by Monica Ferris (Berkley

  4. Gus & BooBear
    8:07 am on January 17th, 2010

    We sure hope Admin & Spence figure out something for the business cards, because we absolutely want one (actually, more than one…..great item to give the others who read the book, but don't check the blog!!)

  5. C. Harris
    8:14 am on January 17th, 2010

    "…cause a separation that will nearly send Chet to Alaska…." I live in Alaska and Chet and Bernie are welcome here anytime. And don't be a wus and come in the summer, it is so much more fun in the winter –especially without the mosquitos. Lots of members of the tribe plus wolves and foxes that I bet you'll find interesting.

    A friend in California is sending me THAT as a present.

  6. abbiethekitty
    8:31 am on January 17th, 2010

    Well, as far as finding a way to send out the business cards, how about printing two up on a postcard (with a little space for some book photo's or whatever) and mailing them out. They can then be cut out for use.

    So low tech though.

    I am older so low tech appeals to me. Also I love getting stuff in the mail.

    Especially catnip. I have a friend who sends it to me that way. YUM.

    [img ] quilt abby.jpg[/img]

  7. Siberian Husky
    9:03 am on January 17th, 2010

    I agree with the review. The sequel may be even better than the first. Both books are wonderful. I love them. Thank you Chet for the laughs, and I am laughing with you not at you. I can identify with so much that you do.

    C. Harris: It would be fun for Chet and Bernie to have an adventure in Alaska. I would love to go to Alaska and run the Iditarod, but no way would my mom let me do that.

  8. C. Harris
    9:30 am on January 17th, 2010

    Siberian Husky….I'm actually not a fan of the Iditarod even though it is now very well monitored and the dogs are trained and taken care of very, very well. The old days used to be awful but even with all the safeguards it is not unusual for a dog or two to die in the race. One thousand miles is huge….

    10:32 am on January 17th, 2010

    Suzy, is cool! She has treats.

    [img ] irma – 1.JPG[/img]

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