This is the final segment of our month-long feature of  author Spencer Quinn. In case you’ve missed it, there are reviews for DOG ON IT, THEREBY HANGS A TAIL, TO FETCH A THIEF and THE DOG WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, Quinn’s brand new installment in the Chet and Bernie Mystery series. Quinn also graciously agreed to let us grill him an interview, and before he was allowed to leave, we made him answer one last question:

We know you’re a fan of dogs, but clearly you’re also a fan of books, just like everyone here at LitStack.

What are your six favorite books ever, and why?


Crime and Punishment ( Dostoyevsky) – The greatest crime novel ever written, in my opinion. Everything in it is surprising and inevitable at the same time. “Can it be, can it be, that I shall really take an axe … ?”

Master and Commander (Patrick O’Brian) – I’ve always loved sea stories and the Aubrey/Maturin series, of which this is the first, just sparkles. I’m interested in buddy stories, too (obviously, with Chet and Bernie) and Aubrey and Maturin play off each other for great comic and emotional effect. Plus the knowledge – not just of the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic era but of all aspects of life at that time – is amazing.

Lincoln’s Sword (Douglas L. Wilson) – This fairly recent non-fiction book demonstrates the care that our greatest president and greatest-writing president, put into his speeches and other written work. I’d think this would be a Beltway must, and also for any writer who wants to make it look easy. (And there are plenty who don’t.)

The Day of the Locust (Nathanael West) – He’s got to be one of the greatest 20th C. American writers, and this is the best Hollywood novel I’ve read. Very, very scary. If people aren’t better than this we’re in trouble.

Pale Fire (Nabokov) – Normally I’m not a fan of the kind of writing where the writer draws attention to himself, but this is just so damn brilliant. In other words, it’s a kind of gimmick, but pulled off to the max and beyond. The novel is in the form of a 999-line poem and the accompanying foreword, commentary and index.

The Underground Man (Ross Macdonald) – He’s still my favorite mystery writer and I think this is his best. Like Bernie, Lew Archer (the detective) has environmental concerns and they’re part of the story. The writing is great and simple with hardly a false step, and the main character is much more interesting to me than Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade. I find both Chandler and Hammett mannered at times, Macdonald never.


What a guy. We like him.

If this isn’t hasn’t been anything like enough Chet and Bernie for you, check out the lovely community of fans over on the official Chet the Dog site. (Chet likes us. The fans can tell that some of us are owned by cats.)

Thank you, Spencer, from everyone at LitStack!

9 thoughts on “Spencer Quinn's Six Favorite Books”

    1. Hi Sam! Did you write this? Someone remembered the part about ‘grilling him.’ Good job!

      (( sniff! sniff! )) Is that Kat I smell?

  1. We have read Master and Commander and many of the Patrick O’Brian books but retain a secret preference for the early Hornblower stories. Not the later ones though.
    Had to read Dostoyevsky glad that’s over. Ross Macdonald. Mr Staff loves them. Maybe I should try one.

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