Laurie Gold's Reviews > A Fistful of Collars

A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn
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Sep 04, 12

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bookshelves: mystery
Read in September, 2012

The idea of Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie Mysteries has appealed to me for years, but because I don’t like mystery novels, I’ve never read one. When Simon and Schuster made A Fistful of Collars--to be released in a few days--available for review via GalleyCat, I decided to give the series a try. I’m so glad I did; not only did I find the book a very refreshing read, I’ve discovered a series I can wholeheartedly recommend to a Very Picky Reader, my husband.

My interest in the series was its canine narrator, which is the same reason why I know my husband, who has a very quirky sense of humor, will like it. I piqued my husband’s interest in giving the series a try when I told him that when Chet thinks too hard, he needs a nap. I cemented it with a bit of reading aloud, which conveyed the “dogginess” Quinn achieved. For those of you who read werewolf stories, if you liked MaryJanice Davidson’s Derik’s Bane, you’ll understand what I mean. Like Davidson, Quinn captures in Chet that doggy essence.

Here are the bits and pieces I read aloud after telling my husband that the series revolves around an ex-cop turned P.I. named Bernie and Chet, his K-9 dropout companion:

“Had much experience with mushrooms, Bernie?” he said.
“Nope,” said Bernie
Whoa. Nope? Had he forgotten that huge and tasty mushroom we’d found in the woods on the Big Bear Case? And didn’t Bernie love to throw little white mushrooms on the barbeque when we grill burgers? Which I hoped would be happening again real soon. I could just about smell them! In fact, with a little more effort, I actually...yes! I smelled burgers. I’d made myself smell burgers when there were none around--wow! What a life. Had something just been bothering me? Whatever it was, poof!

“Come here, big guy.”
I moved closer to Bernie. He gave me a nice pat. His gaze was still on the empty intersection down the street. I let that slip my mind and just concentrated on the pat. You can feel things in the hands of humans, things that are happening deep inside them. I felt what was happening inside Bernie.”

“Boo Ferris?”
“At your service. Hey, Chet, lookin’ good.”
Boo Ferris! And no longer sporting an orange jumpsuit. What a nice perp! He’d hijacked an eighteen-wheeler loaded with tequila that actually turned out to be prom dresses an he’d tried to make his escape wearing one. The fun we’d had!

A tiny breeze swept by, bringing the smell of Thad’s breath my way: toothpaste and mouthwash on the top layer, licorice below that--the red kind--and down at the bottum, uh-oh, what was this? Cocaine! Yes. And not only cocaine, but Oxycontin as well. How did I know? K-9 school, out of which I’d flunked on my last day, with only the leaping test left, and leaping has been my very best thing as long as I could remember. Was a cat involved? Better believe it.

My husband will like this book and the larger series both for the mystery and the doggie narrator; he likes suspense and funny thrillers (for years he read the Stephanie Plum books). I was willing to read the very serviceable mystery simply to hang out with Chet.

He'll also like A Fistful of Collars because, IMHO as a book savant, it’ll appeal to readers who like Christopher Moore. It's a sensibility thing.

Sorry I didn’t get into the narrative; I figure you’ll get that from the synopsis and other reviews.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Janet You stated that you were sorry you didn't get into the narrative. Help me to understand why reviewers do such a lengthy job on a synopsis? If I'm going to read the book, I don't want the whole story spelled-out for me. It seems so redundant and, sometime, a "spoiler " slips in and ruins the book.

Laurie Gold I review for a living, don't typically include spoilers. Occasionally, if the plot is inane, I'll give more plot synopsis to explain why I think it's inane. But as a general rule, nothing that happens after the half-way mark of a work of fiction is ever mentioned if it's plot related. Occasionally, when I'm reviewing at goodreads, I'll mention something that some might take as a spoiler, but if I do, I give a spoiler warning.

When I wrote "sorry I didn't get into the narrative," it's more that I didn't want to come off as lazy. Sometimes when I do reviews here I'll copy and paste the back cover copy and work from there, but here I didn't even do that because my interest was in sharing the book's sensibility more than anything else.

I used to publish a large romance novel website. Our "template" for reviews was no more than four paragraphs of synopsis--no spoilers, please--a paragraph about the hero, one about the heroine, and one about them as a couple. The reviews I write professionally for Publishers Weekly have a very strict word count depending on the type of fiction (150 words for mass market paperback, 250 for hardcover fiction), so my synopses are as broad as I can possibly make them, with generally almost as much word count allotted to critique as synopsis.

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