The Sound and the Furry (Chet and Bernie Series #6)by Spencer Quinn
In the sixth installment of the brilliant New York Times bestselling mystery series, canine narrator Chet and his/b>/i>
Chet and Bernie head to Louisiana in the next installment in the New York Times bestselling mystery series featuring “a canine Sam Spade full of joie de vivre” (Stephen King) and his human private investigator companion.
In the sixth installment of the brilliant New York Times bestselling mystery series, canine narrator Chet and his human partner P.I. Bernie Little are handed a hard case in the Big Easy.
When Chet and Bernie happen upon a prison work crew that includes Frenchie Boutette, an old criminal pal they sent up the river, getting a new case is the last thing they expect. But Frenchie, who comes from an old Louisiana family full of black sheep, needs help finding his one law-abiding relative, his brother Ralph, a reclusive inventor who has gone missing with his houseboat. Though he’s tempted to take another job (with a big payday) in Alaska, Bernie decides to set course for the bayous of Louisiana, a trip that will introduce Chet to a world of sights, smells, and tastes that are like nothing he’s ever encountered.
Out in bayou country, Chet and Bernie meet the no-good Boutette family and their ancient enemies, the maybe-even-worse Robideaus, and at first it seems as if Ralph’s disappearance is connected to a dispute over a load of stolen shrimp. But when Chet uncovers a buried clue, the investigation heads in a dangerous new direction involving the oil business and an impending environmental catastrophe. The more Chet and Bernie discover about Ralph, the more treacherous the job becomes, and soon they’re fighting not only Big Oil, but also shadowy black ops figures, a violent biker gang from back home, and Iko—a legendary bayou gator with a seemingly insatiable appetite. Meanwhile, deep under the Gulf, the pressure just keeps building.
With top-notch suspense, humor, and genuine insight into the ways our canine companions think and behave—all set against a rollicking new Louisiana backdrop—The Sound and the Furry will make you howl in delight.
"Nothing short of masterful."
--Los Angeles Times
"Even cat lovers will howl with delight."
"Spencer Quinn speaks two languages--suspense and dog--fluently."
"Pulls the reader along as if on a leash."
“Quinn radiates pure comic genius…You don't have to be a dog lover to enjoy this deliciously addictive series.”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“Spencer Quinn’s masterful job of having a canine narrator isn’t cutesy, nor does it grow tiresome, a tribute to his wordsmithing.”
Read an Excerpt
The Sound and the Furry
One thing’s for sure,” the lawyer said, handing Bernie our check, “you earned every cent.”
Bernie tucked the check in—oh, no—the chest pocket of his Hawaiian shirt, just about his nicest Hawaiian shirt, with the hula dancers and the trombones, but that wasn’t the point. The point was we’d had chest pocket problems in the past, more than once. And possibly more than twice, but I wouldn’t know, since I don’t count past two. What I do know is that checks have a way of falling out of chest pockets.
“What’s he barking about?” the lawyer said.
Bernie glanced at me. “Just wants to get rolling,” he said. That wasn’t it at all: what I wanted was for Bernie to put that check in his front pants pocket where it would be safe. But then I realized that I did kind of want to get rolling. Wow! That was Bernie, knowing my own mind better than I did. And I knew his exactly the same way! Which is just one of the reasons why the Little Detective Agency is so successful, especially if you forget about the finances part. We’re partners. He’s Bernie Little. I’m Chet, pure and simple.
“You did a nice job, Bernie,” the lawyer said. “Those motel pics? Perfecto. Might have another case for you in a couple of weeks.”
“More divorce work?” Bernie said.
“That’s my beat.”
Bernie sighed. We hated divorce work, me and Bernie. None of the humans involved were ever at their best, or even close. Get me to tell you sometime about the Teitelbaum divorce and what Mrs. Teitelbaum did at the end, a nightmare except for the fact of that being the night I got my first taste of kosher chicken. There’s good in everything.
The lawyer had one of those human mouths where the corners turned down. You see that a lot, but not on Bernie: his mouth corners turn up. Now the lawyer’s mouth corners turned down some more.
“Aren’t you divorced yourself ?” he said.
“So?” said Bernie. He has a way of saying “so” that makes him seem a little bigger, and Bernie’s a pretty big guy to begin with.
“Nothing,” the lawyer said. “Nothing at all. Just sayin’.”
Bernie gave him a long look. Then he reached for the check and jammed it into one of his front pants pockets. Life is full of surprises, sometimes not so easy to understand. I put this one behind me as fast as I could, my mind shutting down in a very pleasant way.
We hopped into our ride, a real old Porsche painted different shades of red, but Bernie says I’m not good with red, so don’t take my word for it.
“That left a bad taste in my mouth,” Bernie said. “How about a little spin?”
What was this? Bernie had a bad taste in his mouth? I felt sorry for him. At the same time, I let my tongue roam around my own mouth, and what do you know? Up in the roof part, hidden away in one of those hard ridges? Yes! A Cheeto! Not a whole Cheeto, but pretty close. I nudged it loose with the tip of my tongue and made quick work of it. Riding shotgun in the Porsche, Cheetos practically falling from the sky: we were cooking.
Bernie stepped on the pedal, and we roared out of the strip mall lot where the lawyer had his office, the tires shrieking on the hot pavement. Roaring and shrieking: the Porsche had a voice of its own, a voice I loved. We zipped past a lot of strip malls—we’ve got strip malls out the yingyang here in the Valley—and hit the freeway. Freeways we’ve also got out the yingyang, all of them packed day and night; this one took us past the downtown towers—their tops lost in the brownish sky we sometimes get in monsoon season, a season with a strange damp smell all its own, although there hadn’t been a drop of rain yet, not in ages—across the big arroyo and up into the hills, traffic thinning at last. Bernie let out a deep breath.
“Think there’s anything to that?” he said. “Me hating divorce work on account of my own divorce? Some kind of—what would you call it? Hidden psychological connection?”
What was Bernie talking about? I had no clue. I put my paw on his knee, for no particular reason. The car shot forward.
“Hey, Chet! What the hell?”
Oops. Had I pressed down a bit too hard? I laid off.
“It’s all right, big guy. Sometimes you don’t know your own strength.”
Whoa! Don’t know my own strength? Had to be one of Bernie’s jokes. He can be a funny guy with jokes—take that time he found some pink streamers and stuck them on the handle grips of a bunch of bikes parked outside a biker bar and then waited for the bikers to come out. And that was just the beginning of the fun! But take it from me: I know my own strength.
We topped a rise and cruised over a long flat stretch, the highway shimmering blue in the distance like it was covered in water. Not true, as I’d learned many times and now was learning again.
Yes, all of a sudden. How did he know? Bernie slowed down, dug my bowl out from under the seat, filled it from a water bottle, and set it on the floor in front of me, all of that with one hand on the wheel and sometimes not any. Bernie was the best driver in the Valley. That day he went off the cliff—in the Porsche before this one, or maybe before that one, too—it wasn’t his fault at all. Once he’d even been offered the job of wheelman for the Luddinsky Gang. We’d busted them instead. The look on their faces!
I stopped panting, leaned down, and lapped up the water.
“Better?” Bernie said.
Totally. I sat up straight. We rounded a curve and spotted some dudes in orange jumpsuits picking up trash by the roadside, a sheriff’s van idling behind them, yellow light flashing. Bernie eased off the gas. We’d put a lot of perps into orange jumpsuits, and you never knew when you’d bump into an old pal.
“Hey,” Bernie said. “Isn’t that Frenchie Boutette?”
The little roly-poly dude at the end, poking at a scrap of paper, missing, taking a short break? He glanced our way, recognized the car, easy to tell from how his eyebrows shot up. Yes, Frenchie for sure. We pulled over.
“Frenchie! How’s it going?”
Frenchie looked at Bernie, then at me, and backed away.
“Don’t be shy,” Bernie said. “We’re not going to bite you.”
“Think I’m fallin’ for that line again?” Frenchie said. “Slipped your mind how Chet bit me that last time, down in Arroyo Seco?”
“Come on, Frenchie. How can you call that a bite?”
“Because of all the blood,” Frenchie said.
“Barely a scratch,” Bernie said. “Booze thins the blood. And why did you try to run away in the first place?”
“Because I didn’t want to do time. Why else? Like maybe I was training for the Olympics?”
Bernie laughed. “Haven’t lost your sense of humor.”
A sheriff’s deputy came over, shotgun pointed down, although not completely down. Weapons are something I keep a close eye on.
“What’s goin’ on here?” he said.
“I was just saying that Frenchie hasn’t lost his sense of humor.”
“Bernie?” the deputy said.
“Hey, Waldo,” said Bernie. “How’s it going?”
“Hundred and seven in the shade and I’m out here with the scum of the earth—how do you think it’s going?” Deputy Waldo said, the shotgun now pointed directly at the ground, just the way I like. “This Chet?”
“Heard about him.” Deputy Waldo gave me a close look. Right away, just from a change in his eyes—tiny eyes and pretty cold until this moment—I could tell he liked me and my kind. “A pretty big dude,” Waldo went on. “What’s he weigh?”
“Getting him on the scale’s not easy,” Bernie said.
I remembered that game! Bernie tried to pick me up, maybe with some idea of standing with me on the scale. Lots of fun, but no one picks me up, amigo.
“A hundred plus,” Bernie was saying. “And he’s strong for his size.”
“You got him from the K-9 program?”
“He flunked out—was what went down?” Waldo said. “Hard to believe.”
“A long story,” Bernie said.
And not one I wanted to dwell on at that moment. Flunked out on the very last day, with only the leaping test left, and leaping was my very best thing. The good part was I actually couldn’t dwell on it for long, on account of the details growing hazier in my mind every day. I was pretty sure a cat was involved, and maybe some blood—but I might have been getting it all mixed up with Frenchie’s blood. I’d never meant to do Frenchie any harm, just grab him by the pant leg, which was how we usually ended cases at the Little Detective Agency, but Frenchie had strangely chubby calves, and all of a sudden I’d found myself . . . best not to go there. Sometimes things happen before you even know it—let’s leave it at that.
Meanwhile, Deputy Waldo was saying, “Is he allowed any treats?” He handed Bernie the shotgun, fished through his pockets. Allowed? That was a new one on me. “Don’t have any dog treats as such,” Waldo said. “But here’s a Slim Jim, kind of a weakness of mine.”
Not a whole Slim Jim—one end completely chewed off—but one thing was clear: Deputy Waldo and I were peas in a pod, although peas, in or out of the pod—and I had experience with both kinds—didn’t do it for me at all. Also I was kind of confused on the weakness part. The very next moment, I was fully occupied, and none of that—peas, pods, weaknesses—mattered the least little bit.
When I tuned back in, Frenchie was talking to Waldo. “Wouldn’t have another one of those hangin’ around by any chance?”
Waldo took the shotgun back from Bernie. “You askin’ me for a Slim Jim?”
“Why would I give you a Slim Jim? You’re the laziest son of a bitch on the whole goddamn crew.” Waldo turned to Bernie. “Was he always a lazy son of a bitch, or is this just a special treat for me?”
My ears perked up at that. More treats? And how could Frenchie be the one to hand them out? There were no pockets in his orange jumpsuit, and he gave off not a whiff of treat, his scent being mostly a not unpleasant mixture of dried sweat, dandruff, and soft butter. Uh-oh, and something else, not good, a dried-up mushroomy smell that our neighbor, old Mrs. Parsons—now in the hospital—gave off, too, somewhat stronger in her case. Did Frenchie have what Mrs. Parsons had?
“His talents lie in other directions,” Bernie said.
“Talent? He’s got talent?”
“Frenchie has a head on his shoulders.”
When they get praised, some humans gaze at the ground and do a foot-shuffling thing. Frenchie did it now.
“Puttin’ me on, Bernie?” Waldo said.
Bernie shook his head. “Frenchie came up with this scheme for conning disabled Vietnam vets out of their benefits. One of them was a friend of ours, which was how we got to know Frenchie in the first place.”
“He’s not in for armed robbery?” Waldo said. “That’s what he tells everybody.”
“Armed robbery?” Bernie said. “Frenchie Boutette?”
Waldo turned to Frenchie, the shotgun barrel rising slightly, unsteady in the motionless air. “Conning disabled vets? That’s despicable.”
Frenchie raised his hands, plump little hands that reminded me immediately of his calves. I was suddenly very aware of my teeth and not much else. “Hardly any of those stup—of those heroic vets—lost anything worth thinking about. Bernie caught me practically right out of the gate.”
Bernie gave Frenchie a hard look. “And Chet,” he said.
“And Chet, of course. Goes without saying.”
“I like hearing it said just the same,” Bernie told him.
“Won’t let it happen again,” Frenchie said. “I’ve got nothing but respect for the Little Detective Agency.” All at once, Frenchie went still, his eyes blanking in that strange way that means a human’s gone deep in his own mind. They do a lot of that, maybe too much. No offense. “Bernie?” he said.
“Can we, uh, talk for a moment or two?”
“Sure. We’re talking right now.”
Frenchie shot Waldo a sidelong glance and lowered his voice. “I mean in private.”
“Okay with you, Waldo?” Bernie said. “Frenchie wants to talk to me in private.”
“Sure,” Waldo said. “There’s the T-Bone Bar and Grill in Dry Springs, not more than fifteen minutes’ drive from here. Why don’t you take Frenchie out for a beer, on me?”
Frenchie blinked. “Dressed like this? I’m not sure that’s—oh.” He turned to Bernie. “He’s foolin’ with me, right?”
“You’re wrong, Bernie,” Waldo said. “He’s a moron.” Waldo waved the back of his hand at Frenchie and walked away.
“If I’m such a moron,” Frenchie said, “how come I got fourteen hundred on my SATs?”
“You took the SATs?” Bernie said.
“Manner of speaking,” said Frenchie. “My kid brother Ralph took them for me, so it’s basically me, DNA-wise. Ralph’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“You’re looking to get him busted for the SAT scam, cut some kind of deal for yourself?” Bernie said.
“My own flesh and blood?” Frenchie said, putting his hand over his chest. “And even if I could, you know, get past that, the law wouldn’t be interested in Ralph. He’s a total straight arrow. The SAT caper was the only time in his whole life he even came close to the line. Which is how come I’m worried about him now.”
“He’s crossed the line?”
“Hard to imagine,” Frenchie said. “But something’s wrong for sure. Ralph’s gone missing.”
Meet the Author
Spencer Quinn is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the ongoing Chet and Bernie mystery series, as well as the bestselling Bowser and Birdie series for middle grade readers. He lives on Cape Cod with his wife Diana—and dogs Audrey and Pearl. Keep up with him by visiting SpenceQuinn.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I love the series of books about Chet and Bernie and they keep getting better. Chet observes things from the dog point of view and it is sometimes laugh out loud funny. I know look at my dog in a different way and wonder if she is having these thoughts, too. If you love mysteries and dogs this series is great.
Another FUN Chet and Bernie adventure!
Cannot get enough of chef and bernie! I have read six of the seven books in the series and am only sorry that in a few weeks I will be waiting for the next mystery in the series. Thank you mr. Quinn, please keep writing!
This book was a disappointment. I've enjoyed the other Chet and Bernie mysteries but this one followed the same formula without anything unusual to distinguish it. I was grateful when it was over and that's a rarity for me.
VERY DISAPPOINTED!!! I don't like the change of location. I felt Chet talked way too much and it made the story drag out. I didn't see the relevance of asking if Ralph was a Homosexual or Asexual because it has nothing to do with the story. I would have been happier if they would have avoided the -F- word. It wasn't overly used but I don't recall it being something in the other books. The book was an extreme disappointment compared with a couple of the others.
I love this series written from the viewpoint of Chet the dog who, like all dogs, loves his human, Bernie, unconditionally. Together they solve mysteries and send the bad guys away. Spencer Quinn must love dogs. He's able know how they think.
As a rule, I don't like for my favorite series - and Chet and Bernie is a favorite - to be change locale. That said, this was as much fun as the rest of the Chet and Bernie books! The mystery itself was well developed and the bayou gave Chet a lot of new smells and personalities to deal with.
Like all the other Chet and Bernie books, this will keep you in stitches. Told from the dog's point of view, that any animal lover will enjoy. Oh by the way, it has a murder in it too. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I laughed out loud quite a bit.
I love all of the Chet and Bernie books. I think Spencer must be part dog. My only complaint is he needs to write FASTER!
All the Chet and Bernie books are great, but this one is definitely the best in the series. Great mystery, great charactors, and as usual excellent insight from the Chet point of view. Highly recommend
In the sixth and newest book in the Chet and Bernie Mystery series, our favorite four-legged private investigator, Chet the Dog, and Bernie Little, his partner in the Little Detective Agency, are back on the job: a good thing, considering their cash-flow problems. A hefty retainer convinces Bernie to take on the cases: the brother of a man Bernie has once sent to jail, albeit with no hard feelings, hires Bernie to find his brother, Ralph Boutette, who has completely dropped out of sight. On the personal side of things, Bernie’s ex-wife is a non-presence in this outing, and his girlfriend, reporter Suzie Sanchez, has taken a job with the Washington Post, so Bernie has nothing but time on his hands. So he leaves the Arizona desert country he calls home and goes to the Big Easy. They find that a long-standing feud between the Boutettes and their sworn enemies, the Robideaus, appears to play a role. “Chet the Jet,” as he thinks of himself (and he is, after all, the narrator) is as usual the perfect foil for Bernie, who Chet often reminds us is “the smartest human in the room,” and provides invaluable assistance in tracking down the missing man and finding those responsible for his having gone missing in the first place, last seen on his houseboat just outside of New Orleans. As with each new entry in this delightful series, The Sound and the Furry is a pleasure to read, and is recommended.
I was reluctant to read the Chet and Bernie series but once I started I couldn't wait to read the next book. I've read all so far and I'm waiting for the next one. Soon I hope.
I have reviewed tis series befor so I will keep it short...MUST READ!! I love this entire series. If you are an animal lover (especially dogs) you will most likely find yourself laughing outloud at Chet's insights.
I just love this series and this one doesn't disappoint! If you like the Chet and Bernie series, you will enjoy this latest in the series. I can't wait until #7 is released. Chet is the dog, and he narrates the story. If you are an animal lover and a lover of a good mystery this series if for you. It's cute and light reading.
I have read the entire series and always look forward to a new story. This story takes place in the Bayou - a far cry from their home. A missing person request for help invites Chet and Bernie to investigate the disappearance of a family member. Characters abound in diverse ways. Chet's thoughts about Bernies's musings are what makes this series amusing. Complications occur when Bernie stumbles upon a dangerous situation for both Chet and Bernie.
Chet and Bernie Series is one of the most clever books I've ever read. I get so wrapped up in all of these books that I land up finish reading them way too fast and am sorry I don't have another one to read. Spencer Quinn must been a dog in his past life since he is spot on in the way Chet thinks. I just hope Mr. Quinn continues to keep writing the Chet and Bernie Series.
Chet & Bernie are always good fun. Bernie's gotta cut down bourbon and cigarettes. Chet has to watch the Cheetos and Slim Jims. But these books will give you a greater appreciation of your own dogs.
I enjoyed all the Chet and Bernie books, keep them coming
I always look forward to the next Chet & Bernie book. I love the relationship between man and dog. Also the character of a strong hard man with a soft side.