Sunday, July 5, 2015

Scents and Sensibility (The Chet and Bernie Mysteries #8)

Author:  Spencer Quinn
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover
ISBN #: 9781476703428
Atria Books
320 pages
$14.98 Amazon
July 14, 2015

Five Stars

In the latest entry in the immensely popular Chet and Bernie mystery series, Private Investigator Bernie Little and his canine companion Chet return home to encounter some alarming developments.  First off, Bernie's wall safe - normally hidden behind the waterfall picture in the office - is gone, and with it Bernie's grandfather's watch, their most valuable possession.  And next door, old Mr. Parsons is under investigation for being in possession of a saguaro cactus illegally transplanted from the desert.  Bernie and Chet go deep into the desert to investigate.  Is it possible that such a lovely old couple have a terrible secret in their past?  

Chet and Bernie discover bad things going on in the wilderness, far worse than cactus smuggling, and all connected to a strange but innocent-seeming desert festival called Arrow Bright.  They unearth leads that take them back to a long-ago kidnapping that may not have been a kidnapping and threaten a ruthless and charismatic criminal with a cult following, a criminal who sees at once what Chet and Bernie mean to each other and knows how to exploit it.

********

Chet and Bernie have just returned from a trip to visit his girlfriend Suzie.  When they arrive home, Bernie sees that someone has entered his home - not broken into - and stolen his wall safe.  After clearing with his ex-wife Leda, that she wasn't in the house, he goes next door to his neighbor Mr. Parsons, where Leda left the house key, and begins to ask questions.  During the course of the conversation he discovers that Mr. Parsons' son Billy was visiting, and brought them a lovely saguaro.  Soon after, a Department of Agriculture officer arrives and tells them that the saguaro was stolen, and wants to know where they got it.

Eventually, Bernie convinces her to give him twenty-four hours to find the culprit, since Mr. Parsons is elderly and his wife is in the hospital.  But it isn't too long after that that Bernie goes to the desert to try and find out about the cactus, and gets more than he bargained for.

When he starts digging deeper, he finds that Mr. Parsons' son is an ex-con who spent fifteen years in jail for a kidnapping gone wrong.  But soon he discovers that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and the kidnapping leads to bigger things, including murder.

In this latest entry in the series we have another winner from Mr. Quinn.  Chet and Bernie are, as always, entertaining and methodical in their thinking.  This time out, however, it is Chet who takes center stage - more than just narrating the story - and he proves his mettle, value and intelligence as he finds himself in a dire situation and must find his way back to his beloved Bernie, along with a charge of his own. We are shown that Chet is as much of a P.I. as Bernie, and can dig his way out of trouble just as resourcefully as Bernie.

But it is the fact that what appears to be a case of saguaro-napping that turns into an old kidnapping case, that leads into something more sinister involving drugs and murder that draws Bernie's attention.  And Bernie is like a dog with a bone, he won't give up until he has the answers he's looking for.

The book was an engrossing read that I finished in one sitting, not wanting to put it down because it is just that good.  For any fans of this series, read it.  For anyone who is picking up a Chet and Bernie for the first time, you can start with this one; because even though it is part of a series it can be read as a stand alone.  Highly recommended.




  

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Watching the Detectives (The Country Club Murders Book 5)

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