Thereby Hangs a Tail

By Spencer Quinn

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Atria Books, 2010

Genre: Mystery, humorous stories

Series: Chet and Bernie Mysteries; 2

ISBN: 9781416585855

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 309

Setting: The Valley (an unnamed desert city somewhere between Las Vegas and New Mexico), Rio Loco, Clauson’s Wells, and Las Vegas, NV

Time period: Contemporary

Plot summary: Chet and Bernie don’t usually take body guarding cases, but they make an exception this time for the show dog Princess.  However, due to an incidental circumstance, they are soon fired.  Unfortunately for all, soon after this, both Princess and her owner are abducted.  Once Chet and Bernie are rehired to find them, Suzie Sanchez, a reporter for the Valley Tribune and good friend of Chet and Bernie’s disappears as well.  With three missing individuals, Chet and Bernie have their work cut out for them.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Doggedly quick.

Characterization: Told in first person through Chet.  The most important secondary character is Bernie.  There are more than a few possible suspects in this story.

Language: Very important to the tone of the book.  Chet takes everything which is said literally, which often makes him a bit confused.

Frame: Dog centered frame.  Readers are made aware of balls, bones, and other dogs much more so than in other mysteries.

Tone: Humorous, yet determined.

Story line: A funny, fast paced story which ends with the perp being grabbed by the pant leg.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Dogs — Fiction.

Private investigators — Fiction.

Dog owners — Fiction.

Show dogs — Fiction.

Kidnapping — Fiction.

Pet theft — Fiction.

Mystery fiction.

Humorous fiction.

Similar authors:

J.F. Englert – Bull Moose Dog Run Mysteries

Cornelius Kane – The Unscratchables

Garth Stein – The Art of Racing in the Rain: a Novel

Personal notes: Great book! I didn’t find this one to be quite as funny as the first book, but it was very close.  I love the way the story is told with the reader knowing more than Bernie many times because Chet discovers information about the case on his own.  I also love the word play in this series with Chet taking things which are said literally.

Other (diversity, themes, websites): Diversity – police trained dog, show dogs, Italian count and countess, hippies, female air force major

Chet the Dog’s blog

Spencer Quinn’s true identityPeter Abrahams

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