August 5, 2014
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In the seventh book in the brilliant New York Times bestselling mystery series, canine narrator Chet and P.I. Bernie journey to Washington, DC, and the dog-eat-dog world of our nation’s capital.The Chet and Bernie mystery series by Spencer Quinn is one of my favorite series, and Chet one of my favorite characters, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that I loved Paw and Order. The series' seventh outing may be the best so far.
Stephen King has called Chet “a canine Sam Spade full of joie de vivre.” Robert B. Parker dubbed Spencer Quinn’s writing “major league prose.” Now the beloved team returns in another suspenseful novel that finds Chet sniffing around the capital city and using his street smarts to uncover a devilish plot.
Chet and Bernie pay a visit to Bernie’s girlfriend, Suzie Sanchez, a crack reporter living in far-off Washington, DC. She’s working on a big story she can’t talk about, but when her source, a mysterious Brit with possible intelligence connections, runs into trouble of the worst kind, Bernie suddenly finds himself under arrest.
Meanwhile Chet gets to know a powerful DC operative who may or may not have the goods on an ambitious politician. Soon Chet and Bernie are sucked into an international conspiracy, battling unfamiliar forces under the blinking red eyes of a strange bird that Chet notices from the get-go but seems to have slipped by everybody else. Most menacing of all is Barnum, a guinea pig with the fate of the nation in his tiny paws.
As Harry Truman famously quipped, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Too bad he didn’t get to meet Chet!
Our narrator Chet, 'a hundred-plus pounder' of a canine who made it to the last day of K-9 school (a tale for another day or 'A Cat was Involved,' at least) is as strong as ever. As stated in previous reviews on the series, Chet being a dog only enhances his storytelling and the stories themselves. He sounds just how you would expect a dog to sound - though funnier and smarter than you might think. From the things that distract him (everything from a piece of food, a certain word in conversation, memories, even the sound of a toilet or his own ponderings) to what he observes (and doesn't) to the conclusions he draws, it all provides a unique perspective.
Readers get to see things that they might not have had the narrator been human - aspects of human behavior and interaction, being only one part - yet also miss some things Chet doesn't pay attention to or feel worth mentioning. These exclusions also add to the tale, helping the mystery along. You're at once both a step ahead of Bernie and the other humans, and maybe a half of a step behind, as well.
The same as Chet.
Like with The Sound and the Furry, the mystery in Paw and Order is not quite as strong as it was in the earlier books. It is still fresh and unique, though. The added element of a new location (Washington DC vs Arizona) is great for new insights from Chet. It's also great that the story, again, focuses on Bernie's interpersonal relationships, specifically his relationship with Suzie. She is a great addition to the series and, especially after seven books, it cannot be only Chet and Bernie. Her inclusion makes sense for the characters, adds to the development of the story (as a whole and in each novel).
Paw and Order is easily my most highlighted read, recently if not ever. Chet's narration is brilliant; full of things that, once you read them, you know a dog wold think, but that you'd never have thought of on your own. Spencer Quinn gets how dogs - big dogs - seem to think and uses it to its full advantage in Chet and this series. I can't wait to see what's next.
The Series So Far:
'A Cat was Involved' (eshort) (#0.5)
Dog On It (#1) - review
Thereby Hangs a Tail (#2) - review
To Fetch a Thief (#3) - review
The Dog Who Knew Too Much (#4) - review
A Fistful of Collars (#5) - review
'The Iggy Chronicles'*
The Sound and the Furry (#6) - review
'A Tail of Vengeance'*
*order decided by publication date only
earc received from publisher, through NetGalley, for review - thank you