Chet and Bernie are back, and Chet's romantic past catches up with him.
The discovery of the puppy, Shooter, proves to be a small but critical clue in a mystery that, this time, starts with their neighbor, Daniel Parsons, owner of Chet's buddy, Iggy. Mrs. Parsons is in the hospital, Mr. Parsons is alone except for Iggy, and one day gets an unexpected gift from their son, Billy Parsons. It's saguaro, and not long after the arrival of the saguaro comes Agent Ellie Newberg, of the Arizona Dept. of Agriculture, in search of one stolen saguaro.
Slowly, Bernie draws out the details from Mr. Parsons. Billy spent fifteen years in prison for kidnapping, although his father insists he just "fell in with bad people," and never did anything violent. But kidnapping is violent, by definition... He came home to visit his parents, and to borrow from the $20,000 to get a degree in forestry management, to get his life back on the right track.
Okay, but there's that saguaro, which has a chip saying it's the stolen one Agent Newberg, and incidentally her puppy Shooter, who looks very much like Chet, are looking for. She wants the name of the person Mr. Parsons got the cactus from, but he doesn't want to incriminate his son. Bernie persuades Agent Newberg to back off temporarily, and goes looking for Billy, who isn't answering his phone.
And so follows a confusing chase, one in which Chet keeps finding scent evidence that, if he could convey it to Bernie, would clear up a lot. Along the way, we meet the kidnap victim, a rather odd music studio owner, two muscle-bound and heavily tattooed identical twins, and an old foe of Bernie's, Police Detective Brick Mickles. He's the reason Bernie is no longer a cop--and Bernie is the reason he hasn't risen higher than he has. Mickles was also the cop who investigated that kidnapping, fifteen years ago.
It's a nicely twisty story, told from Chet's delightful, observant, and utterly canine point of view. Quinn does very well presenting the viewpoint of a smart dog, who is still a dog and not a person in a dog suit, and it's one of my favorite thing about these books.
I bought this book.