Book Review: Scents and Sensibility

By By Spencer Quinn (Atria Books)
Reviewed by Zoe Conrad, June 2015, Updated June 2021

Good news! It’s summer, and Spencer Quinn’s eighth, and newest, entry in the “Chet and Bernie” series, Scents and Sensibility, is out. This perfect beach read features Chet the dog, who narrates the story, and his human other half, Bernie, whose work as a private investigator keeps Chet in dog biscuits. This time, the crime starts close to home, with a saguaro cactus illegally dug up from its desert habitat and discovered in the front yard of Bernie’s neighbor, a frail senior. Saguaros are a protected species, and Bernie’s neighbor could be in big trouble. How and why the cactus got there initially drives the story. Ultimately, the trail leads the pair to a charismatic cult figure. Needless to say, Bernie and Chet uphold their top-dog rep when it comes to solving crimes and bringing down the bad guys. We always appreciate Bernie’s in- sights, as well as his vigilance in caring about natural resources, including the diminishing aquifer. And Chet—well, what can we say about Chet? A dog as narrator would be a reach in hands less adroit than Quinn’s, but Chet is a fully realized, believable character whose humorous “dog sense,” easy distractibility and malapropisms make this new book, like the seven that went before it, a winner in its genre. Look for it in July 2015.

Zoe Conrad is a freelance writer and editor in the San Francisco Bay Area.