Shazza Maddog's Reviews > Thereby Hangs a Tail

Thereby Hangs a Tail by Spencer Quinn
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's review
Apr 12, 2011

really liked it
Read in April, 2011

Chet and Bernie are back in their second book, wherein they get hired to protect a show dog with the call name of Princess during a dog show. Almost the same day they get hired, they’re fired from the job – but the bad news is, someone took Princess’s owner, Adelina, as well as Princess, in a kidnapping. Bernie feels bad about not being there when Princess and Adelina needed him, and takes on the case to find them.

Adelina is married to a count, who is being interviewed by Bernie’s girlfriend, Suzie, a reporter who’s worked on the crime beat before. Bernie and Suzie argue at Rio Loco Ranch, Adelina’s property. And then things start getting complicated.

As the story’s told from Chet’s POV, it’s not very linear. That being said, the story does progress in a linear fashion, just with shots off to tell us about a particular smell, or that Chet’s falling asleep while Bernie’s working on the case. We don’t get all the things coming through Bernie’s head, we get everything through Chet’s. The effect is more scattershot than anything, but smoother than in the first book (or perhaps I’ve grown accustomed to Chet’s storytelling abilities?).

Chet and Bernie take a drive out to a ghost town to find people waiting for them – a pair of men who knock them both out, leaving Chet at the saloon to wake up without Bernie. Chet makes a discovery or two of his own, finding both Princess and Adelina. He and Princess cross the desert, finding a pair of hippies, who take care of both dogs, then try to sell Chet to another man, Thurman. Chet escapes Thurman but loses Princess, finally making it back to Bernie in a roundabout way.

It turns out the men who knocked out both Bernie and Chet were local police with attitudes, especially for a private detective investigating in their district. With all the players introduced, the story starts moving along, but now, Suzie’s missing, too. Chet finds her car, and Adelina again, but no Princess nor Suzie. And now, time may be running out for both of them.

Whimsical and enjoyable, Chet’s an avid storyteller. Though Princess doesn’t ‘speak’ in the story, there is a sense of comradeship between the two dogs, though not as much obviously as between Chet and Bernie. The ending is very satisfying, as is the story itself, almost as good as a rawhide chew strip.

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