Scents and Sensibility
A Chet and Bernie Mystery by Spencer Quinn
Review: Chet is a hundred pound mixed breed dog, the pet and companion of private investigator Bernie Little, of the Little Detective Agency. When they return home after visiting Bernie's girlfriend, Suzie, in Arizona, Bernie sees that someone has entered his house — not broken into it — but entered it with a key. He immediately finds that his grandfather's antique watch is missing from the wall safe behind the picture of a waterfall. As it turns out the whole safe is missing. Bernie checks with his ex-wife to see if she still had a key to the house, or had she given it to someone. She had given to Bernie's elderly next door neighbor Mr. Parsons, though he can't find the key. But he tells Bernie that his son, Billy, who was just released from prison after serving fifteen years for kidnapping gone bad, had been there for a short time. He also points to a cactus planted in their front yard, a gift from Billy. While they are admiring the cactus an officer from the Department of Agriculture arrives and wants to know where they got it. As it turns out it is a stolen saguaro cactus. Since Mr. Parsons is elderly and his wife is in the hospital, Bernie asks for twenty-four hours to find the culprit who stole the cactus, in Scents and Sensibility, the eighth mystery in this series by Spencer Quinn.
Bernie and Chet head for the desert and get a lot more than he bargained for. The stolen cactus is only the tip of the iceberg, and the kidnapping which Billy spent prison time for leads to bigger things including corrupt police officers, drugs and murder. And before long there comes a time when Chet has to prove his grit and astuteness when he finds himself separated from Bernie and in a frightful situation. He must escape and find his way back to Bernie. Can Chet dig his own way out of trouble without Bernie?
Scents and Sensibility, like the previous books in this series, is narrated from the point of view of Chet, giving the story an interesting perspective right from the start. Both Bernie and Chet are logical thinkers, each in their own way, of course, and the relationship between them is an engaging one. Bernie frequently talks to Chet, trying to make sense of whatever the current situation is, who then takes it all in with a wag of his tail. However, when Chet is musing on topics that don't necessarily have anything to do with the primary storyline, the narrative drags a bit and isn't nearly as interesting as Chet apparently thinks it is. The mystery plot is a fairly complicated one, well-developed, and plays out in some unexpected ways. It isn't necessary to have read any of the earlier books in this series to enjoy this one, though newcomers will likely need some time adjusting to the unique narrative style. This is a solid entry in the series, entertaining but not necessarily memorable, ranking about middle-of-the-pack with respect to the previous books.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Scents and Sensibility.
Acknowledgment: Simon & Schuster provided a copy of Scents and Sensibility for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
A Fistful of Collars
Atria Books (Hardcover), September 2012
ISBN-13: 9781451665161; ISBN-10: 1451665164
Location(s) referenced in Scents and Sensibility: California
— ♦ —
Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn — A Chet and Bernie Mystery
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: July 2015
List Price: $25.00
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites