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Book Review: The Dog Who Knew Too Much by Spencer Quinn

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In The Dog Who Knew Too Much, author Chet delights readers with another top-notch suspense mystery. You see, Chet is a dog who authors tales in which he and his partner, Bernie Little, face the criminal element to bring about law and order. Bernie is Chet’s master, but the story is written from the dog’s point of view. Bernie is a private investigator, while Chet is his loveable, dependable, sleuth sidekick. In the books written by Spencer Quinn, these two beings are inseparable.

Dog-author Chet and Bernie begin a fearsome investigation for a somewhat soft, paunchy lad who has disappeared from a summer camp apparently during a hike into the deep wilderness. One can only imagine what it would feel like to be a parent and receive the message, “Your son is missing.” His mother is a psychological wreck during this entire ordeal. Devin had been enrolled in the camp to “toughen him up” a bit. His mother worries that her ex has somehow kidnapped the youth.

Although the defensive camp hiking guide insists that Devin has merely wandered off, his theory becomes more and more implausible, particularly when search parties, including those using helicopters, cannot find the boy.

Bernie uncovers that on one of the camp-out nights, Devin actually slept outside under the stars, rather than bunk inside, to be picked apart and jeered at by toughies. They knew the camp routine and had little mercy for soft newcomers. Disinterested local investigators feel that this is the reason the boy ran off and is probably hiding somewhere afraid to return.

But The Dog Who Knew Too Much becomes more than a story of a boy’s survival. With Chet’s indomitable help, Bernie locates a boarded up, partially hidden tunnel in the mountain around which the hike took place. Could Devin be hiding in there? Followed by Bernie, Chet engineers his way into the aging, collapsing tunnel. In some places, Bernie is able to crawl through some passages, only after Chet first wriggles through.

Later, on their second attempt to enter the mine, they find a heap of rocks that appear to be unnaturally piled up. On closer examination, they uncover fingers then a hand. It is not Devin, but it is a man with a nice round bullet hole through the front of his head. In his dog brain, Chet perceives that, “One thing I’ve learned about life: when it stops, the smell starts changing right away.”

So where is missing little Devin? If he is in danger, will Bernie and Chet find him before he perishes? Did he wander away; was he kidnapped; is he simply hiding? Is there some kind of cover-up taking place with the local sheriff? What is the connection between the abandoned mine and the dead man found within?

The answers to these questions can be found in the delightful tale of The Dog Who Knew Too Much. If you are not aware of this series of books, author Spencer Quinn is a master storyteller who delights his readers by allowing a dog to tell his tales. Chet is an unusual animal. He thinks like a dog and he reasons like a human. Chet will think nothing of grappling with a killer and then walking over to the nearest tree to lift his leg.

This story is such a good read that I recommend it highly to everyone who wants to read an exciting mystery written entirely from a dog’s point of view. If you are a teacher with reluctant readers, get them turned on by obligating them to read The Dog Who Knew Too Much. They will appreciate the intriguing story, particularly the comic remarks made by master sleuth, Chet. More than likely, they will ask for more.

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