Spencer Quinn’s Chet & Bernie Mystery books have delightfully punny titles like The Sound and the Furry and Tender is the Bite; the 14th installment in the bestselling series is no exception. In the Christmas-themed Up on the Woof Top, the twosome trade Arizona sand for Colorado snow when they’re hired for a most unusual case.
For the uninitiated: Chet the dog and Bernie Little of the Little Detective Agency are business partners and best friends. Chet may adore Slim Jims, but there’s nothing he loves more than the man he sweetly calls “my Bernie” throughout his often hilarious stream-of-consciousness narration. (To Chet, metaphors are baffling, tantalizing aromas are distracting and other animals are suspect: “I’ve had some experience with sheep, none good.”)
As Up on the Woof Top opens, the duo are attending a book signing with Dame Ariadne Carlise, a globally bestselling mystery author promoting her 99th book. Enchanted by Chet and intrigued by Bernie, Ariadne dispatches her assistant, Chaz, to hire them for the urgent job of helping Ariadne break her writer’s block by finding her muse, Rudy.
It’s a curious assignment: Rudy’s a reindeer who went missing from Ariadne’s ranch the day after Thanksgiving. Ariadne’s been keeping her struggles a secret, but Christmas and the deadline for book 100 are fast approaching, and her career and reputation hang in the balance.
At Kringle Ranch, faux snow is plentiful and a wreath-shaped blimp hovers in the sky, but underneath the manufactured merriment lurks great danger. Chaz is discovered grievously injured at the bottom of the Devil’s Purse gorge, where Ariadne’s boyfriend, Teddy, was found murdered decades before. Is Chaz’s situation related to Teddy’s demise? Will the (notably ill-tempered) sheriffs present and former help an investigation led by outsiders? And what does Rudy have to do with all of this?
A seemingly straightforward, albeit strange, tracking assignment evolves into a multilayered investigation as Chet and Bernie race against time to find the missing reindeer and unravel the truth about Chaz’s injuries and Teddy’s death. Tense interrogations, gripping action scenes and clever detective work make Up on the Woof Top an engaging, entertaining holiday treat.