Two books could not be less alike and I enjoyed them both, but differently…
The Harper’s Quine is one of ten books in a medieval murder mystery series, featuring Gil Cunningham, by Pat McIntosh. It is difficult to say which is first, as there were three published in 2008, which boggles my mind.
It is May Day 1492 in Glasgow, Scotland. Gil Cunningham, a 26-year-old novice lawyer, whose family expects him to enter the priesthood, is enjoying the activities and sights, one of which is a lovely young woman, the daughter of a French mason. However, his mind seems to have a knack for tracking down murderers and his heart does not seem very enthusiastic about being ordained.
After a harper’s singer is found stabbed, Gil is given the task of finding her killer, who might be a thief. Through interviews and observations, he weeds out irrelevancies to discern method, motive, and opportunity. When another lass is stabbed soon after, more clues are uncovered that do not lead to theft. A third murder brings Gil even closer in the hunt by narrowing down the list of suspects. His investigation puts him in contact with the noble and wealthy, as well as the servants and the poor. It also brings him closer to Alys Mason, who is quite his match even though she’s ten years younger.
McIntosh uses authentic, archaic language throughout and sometimes it impedes the reading. On the other hand, it’s quite interesting and enlightening.
After reading The Harper’s Quine, I was ready for some light-hearted fare and found it in DOG ON IT by Spencer Quinn. It was good fun and I enjoyed the heck out of it. Can’t wait to read the other three, but not all at once. That’s a typical way to get burned out on an author.
Chet the dog is the narrator, which kept me cracked up. His owner/partner is Bernie Little, a private investigator, an ex-husband, and a loving father to young Charlie. Bernie likes to drink a lot; Chet likes to eat a lot and it usually doesn’t really matter what. Bernie used to be a cop; Chet flunked out of K-9 school but could not care less. He has a great nose and ears that Bernie appreciates and depends upon. Plus, he can be a quite ferocious defender and catcher of bad guys. If only he could talk, although he thinks that has not led to good things for humans.
Anyway, one day a divorced, rich woman asks Bernie to find her 16-year-old daughter, Madison, who has only been missing a few hours. She gives him a big check, and Chet helps track her. However, Madison returns home of her own accord just as Bernie is updating her mother, who doesn’t ask for the money back. Two days later the girl disappears again, but it’s a totally different situaion and things start getting mean. Bernie isn’t sure it is a kidnapping, until his tires get slashed and Chet goes missing.
Chet is driven far away to the bad guys’ (Russians) desert hideout, sees Madison, and escapes without his collar. He is found by some bikers, who give him some steak and beer but drop him off at an animal shelter with a policy of killing strays after 72 hours. He is on the gurney, being prepared, when a reporter he and Bernie knows happens to show up and rescue him.
DOG ON IT is about peril and loyalty, humans, and dog sense. Thank you, Mr. Quinn! You made me want to have a dog again.