He applied the Page 69 Test to The Dog Who Knew Too Much, the fourth book in the Chet and Bernie Series, and reported the following:
On page 69 of The Dog Who Knew Too Much, Bernie Little of the Little Detective Agency is questioning a trail guide named Turk about a camper named Devin who has gone missing on a hike in the back country. Chet, a mix-breed hundred-plus pounder with one black ear and one white ear - and Bernie’s partner in the Agency, at least in his own mind – is sniffing around the campsite. The questioning of a witness is a detective fiction standard, and this is a detective series, so page 69 is doubly typical. Having said all that, the important thing is how you do it. In this case, Chet narrates the action. But he’s a dog, not a human in a dog suit, like many other members of his species in fiction.Visit Chet the Dog's blog.
Mystery fiction plots and the solving of crimes share a design, a conjunction which has proved convenient for so many writers in the field. Namely, they both follow a chain of clues – some false, some true, of course - but the point being it’s a logical process, and Chet is incapable of that, certainly in our terms. That makes him an unreliable narrator, and a challenge for the writer. But this particular writer likes challenges, and has a strong interest in unreliable narrators. In this respect, too, page 69 is typical. Here’s a sample:
“I don’t doubt it,” Bernie said. “But see what this does to your theory.”
“What theory?” said Turk, a question I was glad to hear, a little lost myself.
“The theory we’ve been operating on,” Bernie said. “Devin leaves the tent to take a piss and can’t find his way back.”
That was the theory? Theories, whatever they happened to be, I always left to Bernie. But something about this particular theory made me leave our little circle for a moment or two, all the time it took to lift my leg against a nearby rock. When I returned, Turk was saying, “I’m a real heavy sleeper. Is that a crime?”
“Depending on the circumstances,” Bernie said.
Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.