Dog on It is the first in a mystery series by Spencer Quinn, aka Peter Abrahams. The protagonists are Chet (dog) and Bernie (human). Set in the US Southwest, the story is told by Chet. He is a K-9 police school flunk-out and Bernie barely scrapes by as a private detective. They work as an investigation team, but neither of them has a superior or supernatural method of communication with the other.
Chet understands human language, verbal and body, better than Bernie realizes. But Chet can’t always convey what he knows to him. Unlike Randolph, say, in the Bull Moose Dog Run series, he can’t read and doesn’t know how to use human language to communicate. He does dog type communication – barking, wagging tail, bristling neck hair, growling. Bernie can misinterpret these signals as Chet wanting a toy or Chet just barking for no good reason. And Chet sometimes misses the significance of something in the human realm so doesn’t indicate its importance to Bernie. I found myself thinking, “come on Chet, that’s important – bark! Tell Bernie!” And Chet would just think, “hmm, that kinda reminds me of something” and go back to licking himself.
The plot centres on a missing girl, so there are not a lot of doggy elements in the story itself. You meet a neighbour dog and his situation makes you think. And there’s a trip to an animal pound – also a lot to think about.
The jacket blurb says you don’t have to be a dog lover to enjoy the story. Being a dog lover, I really liked the insights into dog behaviour from a dog point of view. You get to know the people and dogs through Chet’s eyes. If you aren’t interested in dogs, I don’t know what it would be like reading a story from a dog’s perspective.
Chet and Bernie both can figure things out and are clever, but not overly so. I don’t know what goes through a dog’s mind, but Chet’s thoughts seem pretty believable. He comes across as a regular smart and galumphing type dog. So does Bernie. The book is a good who-dun-it, aside from the pleasure of reading something from a likeable dog’s point of view.
From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, June 28/11