Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie series has been delighting readers, myself included, for over a decade. The eleventh and latest installment in the beloved series,Tender is the Bite, continues the saga of private investigator Bernie and his beloved dog and crime-fighting partner, Chet.
As political signs begin popping up in neighborhood yards, Chet and Bernie are on a case. Chet isn’t totally sure what the case is, or who the client is. But after a young woman follows them, only to flee following her request for their help, Bernie sets out to discover why she sought them out, and what happened to her. Unfortunately for Chet, this case involves ferrets, horses, and a familiar scent he just can’t quite place. Add in dog that looks remarkably like Chet and her police sergeant owner, and this case has more riding on it than the perp Chet wants to bring in by the pant leg.
I’ve loved these books since I first picked up Dog On It, and I’m always hooked from the first word to the last. While not-too-frightening mysteries are always up my alley, what makes the Chet and Bernie books so perfect is Chet himself.
Chet the dog is our narrator, and what a narrator he is. Part of what makes these books so fun is solving the mystery as they discover new clues, and Chet is the best at finding clues. From his top-rate hearing to his never-led-him-wrong nose, Chet is an ideal partner. As a reader, you get to piece together what Chet experiences with what Bernie discovers through interviewing, solving the case alongside them.
Playing armchair detective is just one component of what makes this series addictive. Chet provides much comedic relief, the kind where you find yourself laughing out loud and looking around to find someone to share these witty insights with. There’s always a deeper level to explore, undercurrents of topical issues handled well, and nods to prior books that make you want to go back and re-read them again and again.
Another plus to a series style novel is piecing together the hints dropped about various cases throughout the books. In Tender, we finally learn a little bit more about the notorious broom closet case that is regularly referenced. Additionally, we get to visit beloved old characters while meeting new and interesting ones.
The characters in Quinn’s books are incredibly well developed, with wild backstories that Chet shares humorously. Every description, from characters to setting to events, is vividly described to paint the image in your mind.
The entire Chet and Bernie series is laugh out loud funny, a perfect balance of humor and mystery that combine to create books you can’t and won’t want to put down. Tender is the Bite continues this tradition with perfection, a multilayered story that you’ll be thinking about every moment you aren’t reading it.
Tender is the Bite will be available July 6, 2021. Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillian for an advanced copy such that I could write this honest review.