Spencer Quinn: The Human Behind Chet the Dog
By Elizabeth Lilly
Detective work is going to the dogs -- or at least Chet the dog. In author Spencer Quinn’s latest book, To Fetch a Thief (now available in paperback), the canine detective and its owner, Bernie, piece together the mystery of a vanishing circus elephant and trainer. The Dog Who Knew Too Much, the fourth book in the Chet and Bernie Mystery series, is out September 6.
Where did you get the idea to write about the Little Detective Agency?
One day my wife said: “You should do something with dogs.” Ka-boom, as Chet might put it. Within five minutes, the important decisions about the series -- that they would be mysteries narrated by the private investigator’s dog, and that the dog would not be a human in a dog suit, but a real dog -- had unfolded in my mind.
Is Chet inspired by a canine companion?
We’ve always had dogs -- right now there’s Audrey, a Bernese/golden retriever mix with a mind of her own -- but Chet isn’t based on any one particular dog.
What makes a dog the ideal animal sleuth?
Solving mysteries is traditionally about following a logical chain of clues, and Chet can’t do that. What Chet does bring to the table are his amazing senses, his instinctive emotional feel, and his indestructible loyalty to Bernie. Together, he and Bernie do make an ideal sleuth.
You have quite the following, especially in the Friends of Chet section of ChetTheDog.com. Did you expect this amount of reader involvement?
The way Chet and Bernie seem to have touched a lot of people has just amazed me. The commenters turn out to be bright and witty, and the incoming photos of their dogs -- and cats, hamsters and the occasional stuffed animal -- are a daily source of fun for me.
What do you have planned next for Chet and Bernie?
The Dog Who Knew Too Much takes Chet and Bernie into some new territory. A puppy that looks like Chet appears toward the end, and I’m sure we’ll hear more about that. The next story is currently germinating in my mind. The Old West will be part of it, as will the Hollywood version. You can guess how Bernie will feel about that.
Elizabeth Lilly is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has written for the Independent Weekly, Our State Magazine and various websites.