It’s been a long wait, but Chet and Bernie are back! Spencer Quinn talked with us about taking a break, ending on a cliffhanger, and coming back.
By Spencer Quinn
Not long after Scents and Sensibility, the most recent Chet and Bernie novel, came out —actually that very day!—I began getting emails written in all caps, like this: “YOU HAVE BERNIE DYING? THAT’S CRUEL. WE ALL WANT CHET & BERNIE TO GO ON FOREVER.”
Uh-oh. I’d had no intention of ending the series or offing Bernie. I’d had an idea for a different kind of book I wanted to write—the book that became The Right Side —and I can’t write two books at once. So, I thought, how about leaving Chet and Bernie in a cliffhanger situation for now, just a bit of a tease?
Oh, boy. In the intervening time lots of new readers seem to have found the series, so the emails—and messages on social media—just keep coming. Therefore, I’m very, very happy to say that the new C&B, Heart of Barkness, arrives July 2. There’s no need, by the way, to have read any of the earlier books first. Chet’s the narrator, and that kind of rigid sequentiality is just not him.
The Chet and Bernie stories—for those of you new to them—are not cozies. There’s darkness, and the pain of life is felt not just by Bernie but by Chet, too. But—and I think this is part of the appeal of the series, if I may say so—Chet quickly springs back to his reset position, and that position in one of a lover of life. Is that why I often hear from readers who say Chet and Bernie have helped them through hard times? That’s been a huge and humbling surprise to me.
Heart of Barkness is all about loving life. It’s also about the ruthless, the dangerous, the scorned, country music, and … and mathematics:
“What’s so interesting?” Bernie said. Then came something that had never happened before, kind of a shock. He set his glass on the desk, walked over, and … could it really be? Bernie got down on all fours and … whoa, stop right there! From out of nowhere I suddenly understood four, having never gone past two in my whole life. One, two, four! I’d cracked the code at last!”
To readers past and present: Thank you so much for your past support of Chet and Bernie, and I hope you enjoy Heart of Barkness. I can’t wait (a very Chet-like state of mind).