Book Club Review, October 2018: Dog On It, by Spencer Quinn

Dog on It: A Chet and Bernie Mystery (The Chet and Bernie Mystery Series) by Spencer Quinn

Blog by Cindy Bushey and Kim Blocher

The Book Club needed a light read in the midst of frustrating political news, hurricanes, and other problems in the world.  We found that light read in Dog On It.  There were places to laugh out loud and places where we could feel the pain and frustration on the part of both Bernie and Chet.  Most of our readers thought  this author was great at realistically portraying the supposed thought processes of a dog and voicing them in a very believable way.  Even though Chet (the dog) often didn’t understand Bernie’s reaction, we human readers knew exactly what Bernie was feeling.  One of the quirks of the book is when Chet alludes to side stories that he intends to go into at some later point, with one reader  hoping that Chet really WILL, because she intends to read more of them!

But we were not universal in an enthusiastic embrace of the book.  Some readers found it more cartoonish and annoying than clever and funny.  A few readers thought the book was longer than it needed to be…especially with all the “Slim Jim” detours!   And whether we liked the book or not, we found ourselves frustrated that Chet couldn’t talk and set Bernie set on the path to solving the mystery!  It took a very long time to find the girl, maybe longer than desired by our readers.  But something that  our readers cited as a plus for the book was its great description of unique dog qualities—like Chet’s night vision.  It showed insight into a dog’s physiology and clearly indicated good research on the part of the author.  And most of our readers found the characters to be well developed and interesting.

Humor, pathos, character development – the book had it all.  The Russian bad guys were kind of a stereotype, but for the most part did not interfere with enjoyment of the book.  Nor did Chet’s rescue of Bernie, pulling him up over a cliff with a belt.  Anyone raised with Lassie television shows knows exactly what dogs can do in extreme situations!  How many wells did Lassie pull Timmy out of?  (Not to mention accounts of military K-9 units).  For the genre of light-hearted mysteries, the Zion readers say this book was close to the top.  We are glad that glad that Luann, charged with the month’s book selection, didn’t go with a “great literature” pick!

The book discussion prompted us to share our own  stories of dogs we have known and loved.  We had a lot of fun hearing about dogs that knew when the school bus was coming, when a teenager needed to be picked up from band practice, or dogs that communicate over the back fence with the neighbor dog.  Truly our canine friends make our world a better place, and who wouldn’t want to read about a canine detective?  Actually,  a few of our readers could have done without it!  To be precise we had 2 readers give it 2 thumb’s down, 4 readers were neutral, 3 gave it 1 thumb up, and 4 gave it 2 thumbs up.

Next month we read The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell.  Join us for the pleasure of reading a good book.