What I love most about Spencer Quinn a.k.a. Peter Abrahams (more on that "a.k.a." in a minute) is his wordplay. It's clear he loves playing with the English language and, as we talk about in the interview below, it shows and makes the reading of his books more fun.
Since then it was reported — and Quinn, er, Abrahams, confirms it — that Spencer Quinn is a pseudonym of Peter Abrahams. We talk about this too in the interview. And just to make things more confusing there are two authors named Peter Abrahams but the one we're talking about is the American born in 1947.The other is a South African novelist born in 1919. I've linked to Wikipedia profiles of both to try to avoid confusion.
So I was unaware until recently of who Peter Abrahams was/is so I can't speak to those books — except for a forthcoming young adult novel — but I can say that one reason I'm addicted to his Chet and Bernie series is how he plays with words.
Allow me to explain the Chet story concept to illustrate: The concept for this series is that it's a private detective and his dog, but this time it's the dog who is doing the narrating. Now when I mention this to fellow book lovers I get one of two reactions: "how cute!" and indeed they are cute and charming and hilarious, or "oh, god," and a clear lack of interest. Instead of judging a book by its cover these people are judging a series based on its concept. Quite unfair. Some of these people are perhaps tired of books with animal helpers — I blame Lillian Jackson Braun series for this with all of her "The Cat Who... " books. However, I am convinced even those in this camp of prejudging the Chet books will enjoy them if they try actually reading the books
Chet never misses the chance to explain what odd things humans say, so when, for example, he hears a reference to "the elephant in the room," he gets confused, understandable since he sees no such elephant in the room. Likewise he gets confused, and explains this to the reader, when someone mentions "the cat's out of the bag" or any other expression mentioning other animals or phrases or idioms. Basically, Chet gives the author the chance to be playful in the middle of a mystery. This can result in fun writing that reminds me of Gregory McDonald's great Fletch series (yes, the ones made into good, albeit inferior, movies starring Chevy Chase) as well as Donald Westlake's Dortmunder series and that of Lisa Lutz.