A Fistful of Collars
A Chet and Bernie Mystery by Spencer Quinn
Review: The Valley's mayor has a plan to turn the area into an alternative "Hollywood" when a major motion picture is set to be produced in the region. But the film's volatile star needs someone to watch over him — indeed, the company insuring the project insists on it. Enter Chet and Bernie, who are hired to do the job in A Fistful of Collars, the fifth mystery in this series by Spencer Quinn.
Bernie — he would be the human PI of the pair — doesn't want the job, but his finances have been stretched far beyond their limits so agrees to at least listen to the proposal: three weeks, $3000 a day, plus a bonus if nothing untoward happens. That would be more money than Bernie's made in who knows how long. It's an offer Bernie can hardly afford to turn down, but he's apprehensive all the same. And with good reason. The star, Thad Perry, has "some history with illegal substances" but also, as Chet and Bernie come to find out, some history with the Valley. When a local reporter is found dead in a dumpster, the exact same place where another murder victim was found years before, the case unsolved, the only connection is the man Chet and Bernie have been hired to keep out of trouble.
Chet — he would be the canine narrator of the story — is really the star here. He's remarkably observant, taking in everything around him and putting his spin on it for the reader. But he doesn't quite understand English idioms, and often takes what he hears quite literally. Both these elements introduce a considerable amount of humor into the story. The murder mystery itself is well plotted, though a little slow to get started and even slower to develop.
New readers to the series — the books do not have to be read in any particular order — will no doubt be thoroughly entertained by Chet … and possibly, to a much lesser extent, Bernie. But those readers familiar with the books may feel the series premise is wearing a little thin, that the humor isn't as original as it once was. Fortunately, the storyline is strong enough here to compensate for a basis that is becoming somewhat formulaic.
Acknowledgment: Simon & Schuster provided a copy of A Fistful of Collars for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Dog Who Knew Too Much
Atria Books (Hardcover), September 2011
ISBN-13: 9781439157091; ISBN-10: 143915709X
Location(s) referenced in A Fistful of Collars: California
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A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn — A Chet and Bernie Mystery
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: September 2012
List Price: $25.00