Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn: Review/Interview/Giveaway/Event/Animal Rescue

Sep 8, 2012 | 2012 Articles, Lorie Lewis Ham, Marilyn Meredith, Mysteryrat's Maze, Pets

by Marilyn Meredith
& Lorie Lewis Ham

We are so excited this week to have a review of Spencer Quinn’s (aka Peter Abrahams) latest Chet the Dog book, A Fistful of Collars, an interview with Spencer and some great opportunities for you the reader.

First off, a portion of all sales of this book using the link below to Mysterious Galaxy, will go to SNAP, San Diego’s Spay and Neuter Action Project. Secondly, there are instructions on how you can win a copy of the book at the end of this post, & lastly Spencer is doing a book event at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego on September 17 at 7 p.m. together with SNAP–more details below. If you can’t attend the event, you can use the purchase link here or below to get a signed copy of the book! Remember that a portion of these sales goes to SNAP! You can also check out a review here in KRL of a previous Chet book.

A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn
Review by Marilyn Meredith

If you love dogs you’ll love this mystery starring P.I. Bernie Little, but told by his dog, Chet. This is more fun and insightful than you can imagine as everything that happens is seen through Chet’s eyes. This is the second tale I’ve read in this series in a much different setting and case than before. This time Bernie is offered big bucks (something that doesn’t happen often) to keep an eye on popular movie star Thad Perry while he’s making a movie in the Valley. In this case, the Valley is the San Fernando Valley, the towns north of the Hollywood Hills.

Of course there is a lot more going on than this as Bernie has a romantic problem with a big decision to make. Thad Perry not only isn’t much of an actor, but has a secret in his past. There’s plenty of action, and Chet is right in the middle of it all. His thoughts and conclusions about everything, add to the fun of the story—it’s a dog’s eye view of course, which is a totally different perspective.

Oh, and I almost forgot, Chet has a big problem of his own, Thad Perry has a cat named Brando. And of course, you might think you know the answer to the puzzle as you near the end of the book, but I can assure you that you will be surprised.

This is a fun book that both mystery and animal lovers will enjoy.

Marilyn Meredith is a Springville, CA mystery author and an ongoing contributor to our Mystery section. Be sure to visit her website;

Interview with Spencer Quinn

Lorie: When did you first begin writing?

Spencer: When I was a kid. I remember a story, probably from fifth grade or so, that began: “The archaic telephone jangled in the murky tropical night.” Yikes.

Lorie: When was your first book published and what was it?

Spencer: The Fury of Rachel Monette came out in 1980. It was a thriller of the international type with a female protagonist, and as in the Chet and Bernie series there are lots of desert scenes, but these are in southern Morocco, not the U.S. southwest.

Spencer Quinn

Lorie: Why did you choose to write mysteries?

Spencer: I’ve always liked crime fiction. My desire has always been to broaden, deepen, and twist it into something a bit new.

Lorie: Reading your press kit, I see that Spencer Quinn is a pseudonym and your actual name is Peter Abrahams, how/why did you come to write this series under this name?

Spencer: The Chet and Bernie books are quite different from my other work–first person narration (and that “person” a dog, although not a talking or anthropomorphic one) and a different kind of humor. It was decided that a new brand (although not at all top-secret) might help find the right audience.

Lorie: Are you still writing under your name as well?

Spencer: I am. Right now I’m doing a middle-grade series for Philomel. Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood Street is book #1.

Lorie: How did you end up deciding to make a dog the narrator of your series? How do people generally respond to that?

Spencer: 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 P.I.’s dog, and that the dog would not be a human in a dog suit but a real dog–had unfolded in my mind, without any conscious effort on my part. More like a dream–one of those too-rare pleasures of the writing life. The response has far exceeded my expectations. Chet and Bernie really mean something to a lot of people.

Lorie: How many books are in the series?

Spencer: A Fistful of Collars (Sept. 11, 2012) is the fifth. There’s also the e-story, “A Cat Was Involved”, all about the day Chet and Bernie met.

Lorie: What place do dogs have in your life?

Spencer: A big one! Right now we have two–Audrey, a seven-year-old Bernese/Golden Retriever mix, and Pearl, a one-year-old Golden Retriever, getting by on looks alone so far.

Lorie: I notice that at the Mysterious Galaxy signing that dogs are allowed–is this typical of your signings for this series? Also, do you typically tie in animal rescue events with these signings?

Spencer: Yes–it’s common. I like seeing dogs at the signings.

Lorie: Did you base Chet on a dog of your own?

Spencer: No, but I could never have written the series without having had dogs in my life.

Lorie: What kind of research did you do to be able to tell the stories from the perspective of a dog?

Spencer: I did very little. Mostly it’s all about the imagination–the sine qua non of this job.

Lorie: Anything else that you would like to add?

Spencer: People might want to check out and There are great photo galleries with reader’s dogs from all over the world (plus some cats, birds, and even a stuffed animal or two).
Purchase this book from Mysterious Galaxy by clicking the Fistful Of Collars book cover to your left, and a portion of the sales will go to SNAP. If you cannot attend Spencer’s book event, remember you can also order signed copies.
Spencer Quinn Mysterious Galaxy Event:

Event Date & Time: September 17 at 7 p.m.
Location: Mysterious Galaxy, 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302, San Diego, CA 92111 ~ 858-268-4747

Canine fans of Chet (dog) and Bernie (human) and author Spencer Quinn are welcome at the event for A Fistful of Collars, held in conjunction with SNAP, San Diego’s Spay Neuter Action Project. SNAP will have a table with information on their programs, and have some visitor dogs looking for forever homes via adoption!

To enter to win an e-book copy of A Fistful of Collars, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Collars”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 17, 2012. U.S. residents only.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.


  1. This is such a fun series. Thanks for the review and interview. I’m looking forward to Chet’s new adventures.

  2. This sounds like a fun book. Nice review.

  3. Can’t wait to read the next Chet and Bernie adventure.

  4. I’m a HUGE fan. I love the way Quinn captures Chet’s optimistic view on life and his loyalty to Bernie. But don’t get me started….:-)

  5. We have a winner. Thanks for entering
    Lorie Ham


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