As most of you Cozy Mystery readers who have been with me for a while know, I usually enjoy reading Cozies that you would consider “classics” of the Cozy Mystery genre, however, sometimes I make exceptions >>> as I’m guessing a lot of you do! I little while ago I found myself reading another of Spencer Quinn‘s Chet and Bernie mysteries. While you technically wouldn’t consider them to be Cozy Mysteries, I absolutely love them! Spencer Quinn is one of my very favorite mystery authors. I would recommend the Chet and Bernie mysteries to anyone who is looking for a good time, however, I must warn you that it is not technically a Cozy Mystery series.
The Chet and Bernie Mystery Series starts with Dog On It. Chet is an almost-former police dog who is now owned by private investigator, Bernie Little. I wouldn’t call Chet this book’s “sleuth” – despite being the narrator, Chet is limited far more than most animals you will see portrayed in Cozy fiction, which can be surprisingly refreshing. Many books featuring an animal as a main character tend to make them more “human” than in this book – instead, Chet is periodically distracted by things like cats, noises, and his own tail, and even has trouble telling people apart if he can’t smell them clearly. It is because of these limitations and shortcomings that I came to love Chet – he’s a dog, not a person that happens to look like an animal.
In a lot of ways, Dog On It feels more like a pulp detective novel than a Cozy Mystery. The detective Bernie is a rather hard-bitten, hard-drinking private investigator with military experience. He investigates things like drugs and disappearances, not the politely bloodless murders often featured in Cozies. Another character even compares Bernie to a Raymond Chandler character at one point, so Bernie is obviously intended to fit the “private investigator” more popular in pulp fiction. All that said, I still consider the Chet and Bernie series somewhat Cozy because of the narration provided by lively Chet. Because so much of the story is told through his clever (but limited) point of view, Quinn’s stories always feel light, even if the subject material sometimes isn’t.
By the way, Spencer Quinn is also known as Peter Abrahams, a mystery author for both adults and children. He writes both the Echo Falls Mystery Series and The Outlaws of Sherwood Street mysteries for grades 5-8. Abrahams (Quinn) has been nominated and won the Agatha Award for Best Children/Young Adult mysteries as well as the been nominated and won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Young Adult mysteries.
For those of you who haven’t already found how wonderful the Chet and Bernie Mystery Series is, Quinn has written three stories that can give you a feel for the series:
A Cat Was Involved (prequel story)
P.S. If you’re interested in other entries about some highly recommended Cozy Mystery series, you can see them on the Most Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my site.