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New Treasures: Introducing Garrett, P.I.

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Introducing Garrett P.I.-smallWhen I started reading fantasy, I wanted every book I read to be The Lord of the Rings. High stakes, epic in scope, and at least one guy had to have a bitchin’ magic ring.

That’s the only decent explanation I can come up with for why I steadfastly ignored Glen Cook’s Garrett, P.I. novels for so many years. And that took some doing, too — in the 24 years since Sweet Silver Blues appeared, Cook has written no less than thirteen, with one more on the way. I’d probably still be ignorant of this highly readable and fast paced series if the charming Tina Jens hadn’t discovered this glaring omission in my fantasy education at Worldcon, and arrived at our booth the next morning with a brand new copy of Sweet Silver Blues, inscribed to me by Glen Cook.

Long story short, it wasn’t long before I was a fan. So you can imagine how delighted I was to open my mail yesterday and find a review copy of Garrett For Hire, a handsome omnibus collection of Deadly Quicksilver Lies, Petty Pewter Gods, and Faded Steel Heat, novels 7, 8, and 9 in the series.

I know what you’re thinking. Who does an omnibus of novels 7, 8 and 9? Unless…

A quick Internet search proved what I should have been able to figure out for myself: there are two previous collections. Introducing Garrett, P.I. was published August 2011, and Garrett Takes the Case in February 2012. Not sure how the hell I managed to miss them both. Clearly my detection skills are no match for my new hero, Garrett. Well, at least I’ve got one thing figured out: what books I’m going to be tracking down and reading this weekend.

Garrett is a detective in TunFaire, a gritty fantasy city populated by witches, elves, dwarves, vampires, ogres, gods, and stranger things. TunFaire has been compared to Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar, but it’s an original creation in its own right.

TunFaire is part of the vast kingdom of Karenta, which has been drawn into a prolonged Vietnam-like conflict with neighboring Venageti. Garrett is an ex-Marine who did a five-year tour fighting the Venageti in the Cantard; in these early novels we meet a few of Garrett’s fellow servicemen and his cohorts in TunFaire, including the half-elf Morley Dotes, the Roze triplets, and the Dead Man, a dead but still active Loghyr.

Garrett Takes the Case-smallIntroducing Garrett, P.I. collects Sweet Silver Blues, Bitter Gold Hearts, and Cold Copper Tears. In Sweet Silver Blues, Garrett is approached by the family of an old marine buddy recently killed in the Cantard. Denny Tate accumulated a large fortune in silver before his accidental death, and his will dictates it is to be left to the woman he loved, Kayean Kronk — an old flame of Garrett’s. The Tates hire Garrett to locate and deliver the fortune to Kayean, who is believed to be somewhere deep in the Cantard… the last place Garrett ever wants to see again.

In Bitter Gold Hearts, Garrett is hired by a Stormwarden, a powerful sorcerer, to find her kidnapped son. This one takes place largely in TunFaire. As the kidnapper’s demands increase, Garrett begins to suspect that the members of the Stormwarden’s family may be involved… along with a dangerous band of ogres led by the mysterious “Gorgeous.”

In Cold Copper Tears, Garrett takes a case for a woman so gorgeous it can only spell trouble. Jill Craight hires Garrett to discover who has been breaking into her apartment, and why. Soon afterwards, Garrett is attacked by a gang called the Vampires and finds himself battling an ancient eunuch cult… and that’s just the beginning of his troubles.

The next omnibus is Garrett Takes the Case. In Old Tin Sorrows, Garrett investigates why anyone would want to poison a wealthy, retired General, only to discover his employees are being killed; in Dread Brass Shadows, three young women press Garrett into service to search for The Book of Shadows, a sorcerer’s tome containing secrets no mortal was meant to master; and in Red Iron Nights, Garrett find himself up against a sinister killer targeting rich young women in TunFaire.

The Garrett novels are packed with humor, witty dialogue, and twisted plots that constantly surprise. There’s also a rich cast of characters, villains, and friends alike and TunFaire is a character in itself, vivid and alive. I’m looking forward to discovering them all, and I’m grateful to Roc for bringing these books back in print in handsome and affordable editions.

Introducing Garrett, P.I. was published August 2011 by Roc Books; it is 704 pages and priced at $16. Garrett Takes the Case was published February 2012 by Roc, it is 688 pages in trade paperback for $16. Garrett for Hire is a whopping 870 pages, priced at $17; it will be available March 5. As yet there are no digital editions.

37 Comments »

  1. The Garrett PI books are a lot of fun. But they’re even better in the original: Nero Wolfe.

    Comment by Theo - February 7, 2013 7:58 am

  2. I love the Garrett novels, though I have not read them all yet. I’ve collected them (scouring used book stores) over the past decade and a half.

    Omnibuses are a good thing.

    I just read ‘Dread Brass Shadows’ last month, in fact.

    Comment by pmcnamee67 - February 7, 2013 10:14 am

  3. I am a fan of fantasy, hardboiled pulp and Nero Wolfe. Glen Cook has combined all three genres into a thoroughly enjoyable series. The fact that it is light years in style and tone from his Black Company books makes it even more impressive. One of my favorite series.

    The Nero Wolfe feel is strong and well done. I even referred to these books as Wolfe pastiches in an essay I wrote for Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.

    Can’t recommend this series enough.

    Comment by Sherlock - February 7, 2013 11:04 am

  4. I remember reading a bunch of these back in the day, and enjoying them, but I haven’t read any of the recent ones yet. I’m glad Ace is reissuing these kinds of back-catalog titles in omnibus format — I just hope that they (and other, similar volumes — the Steven Brust Vlad Taltos volumes, e.g.) become available electronically at some point.

    Comment by Joe H. - February 7, 2013 1:25 pm

  5. > The Garrett PI books are a lot of fun. But they’re even better in the original: Nero Wolfe.

    Theo,

    I’m embarassed to admit that I’ve never read any of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels (or short stories).

    But based on what I know about Wolfe — he solves mysteries without ever leaving his house — there are definite parallels with the Garrett books, with Garrett playing the part of Archie Goodwin, Wolfe’s right hand man, and The Dead Man playing Nero Wolfe (for that matter, you could argue that Dean takes the part of Fritz, and Tinnie Tate parallels Lily Rowan, as Wikipedia has noted):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garrett_P.I.#Allusions_to_other_works

    Comment by John ONeill - February 7, 2013 3:41 pm

  6. > I just read ‘Dread Brass Shadows’ last month, in fact.

    PMC,

    I”m looking forward to that one. How did it hold up?

    Comment by John ONeill - February 7, 2013 4:09 pm

  7. > I even referred to these books as Wolfe pastiches in an essay I wrote for Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.

    Sherlock,

    Sounds like a great read! Is there an online link anywhere?

    Comment by John ONeill - February 7, 2013 4:10 pm

  8. > I’m glad Ace is reissuing these kinds of back-catalog titles in omnibus format — I just hope that they
    > (and other, similar volumes — the Steven Brust Vlad Taltos volumes, e.g.) become available electronically at some point.

    Joe,

    Hear! Hear! Although the Garrett volumes are Roc, not Ace. But I’m a big fan of the Brust omnibus volumes too.

    Although my favorite big fat omnibus collection has to be this one:

    http://www.amazon.com/Great-Book-Amber-Complete-Chronicles/dp/0380809060

    10 novels, 1,264 pages, all for under 15 bucks. I would not have believed it possible.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 7, 2013 4:15 pm

  9. John,

    (excerpt from my blog)

    This time out, Garrett must locate the Book of Shadows – a magic tome of spells that allow the reader to take the shape and form of whatever is on the brass-plated page. Battling factions catch Garrett in the middle, as he tries to understand why he got pulled into the situation in the first place. The stakes rise as Garrett finally understands he must confront the biggest mobster chief in the city – and only one of them will come out alive, this time.

    I always enjoy Glen Cook, and ‘Dread Brass Shadows’ was no different.

    Comment by pmcnamee67 - February 7, 2013 4:23 pm

  10. >Hear! Hear! Although the Garrett volumes are Roc, not Ace. But I’m a big fan of the Brust omnibus volumes too.

    Oops. That’s what happens when I don’t actually go look at my shelves. Although it appears that Roc and Ace both go up the ladder to Penguin.

    >Although my favorite big fat omnibus collection has to be this one:

    >http://www.amazon.com/Great-Book-Amber-Complete-Chronicles/dp/0380809060

    >10 novels, 1,264 pages, all for under 15 bucks. I would not have believed it possible.

    Speaking of authors who are criminally underrepresented in the eBook market — I’m torn between Zelazny and Karl Edward Wagner as the author I’d most like to see reissued in eBook. (Probably with a slight nod to Zelazny just because he had a much larger catalog. But I’ve heard rumblings of Wagner eBooks in the wind, so fingers are crossed.)

    (And probably C.J. Cherryh would come up a close third.)

    Comment by Joe H. - February 7, 2013 5:27 pm

  11. PMC,

    Very nice! Clearly, I need to read your blog.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 7, 2013 5:33 pm

  12. Garrett has been a treasured companion for decades. He’s Archie Goodwin and Travis McGee rolled into one beer-drinking, wise-cracking knight in rusty armor. I almost envy you the opportunity to experience TunFaire for the first time.

    Comment by Ken - February 7, 2013 11:29 pm

  13. I’m embarassed to admit that I’ve never read any of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels (or short stories).

    Don’t be. I envy you. I’d quite like to be able to read both Stout and Cook from a position of complete ignorance again.

    Cook doesn’t simply retell Stout’s tales, though. He’s better than that, although I think he made a mistake in ending the war that serves as a backdrop for the first two-thirds of the series.

    (Just to be clear, that’s not a spoiler.)

    Comment by Theo - February 8, 2013 8:04 am

  14. Hi John. Here is a link to the article I mentioned. The focus is on similarities between stories in the Corpus (Wolfe) and the Canon (Holmes).

    http://solarpons.com/SHMM_Wolfe.pdf

    Comment by Sherlock - February 8, 2013 9:07 am

  15. BTW: Robert Goldsborough has recently published a new Nero Wolfe pastiche, Archie Meets Nero Wolfe. It takes place before the first chronological story written by Rex Stout.

    http://www.amazon.com/Archie-Meets-Nero-Wolfe-Mysteries/dp/1453270973/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360329072&sr=1-1

    Comment by Sherlock - February 8, 2013 9:13 am

  16. I loved the fist half of the series but thought it hit the “Why are you still writing these? Surely the next will be the last one” stage around Petty Pewter Gods. It perked up a bit with Cruel Zinc Melodies, the last one I read.

    But of course I’ll be finishing the series.

    Comment by Jeff Stehman - February 8, 2013 12:01 pm

  17. Thank you for presenting/ re-discovering this. After introduced to “Mad Shadows” and Sword Noir, here on Black Gate, it seems only appropriate to expand on that, here.
    May I ask, are any (or all) of the Garrett tales written in first person (hardboiled) narration?

    p.s. the Amber omnibus is sitting on my shelf un-read for way too long…

    Comment by periklis - February 9, 2013 2:19 pm

  18. Yes, they’re all first-person narration.

    Comment by Joe H. - February 10, 2013 4:53 pm

  19. > (And probably C.J. Cherryh would come up a close third.)

    Joe,

    C.J. Cherryh’s most recent novels are available in digital format (INTRUDER, for example). But I don’t see digital editions of her older material.

    DAW has terrific paperback omnibus collections of some of her most popular novels though, including The Morgaine Saga, The Faded Sun Trilogy, Alternate Realities, and The Chanur Saga.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Morgaine-Saga-Book-Collectors/dp/0886778778/
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Faded-Sun-Trilogy-Kesrith/dp/0886778697/
    http://www.amazon.com/Alternate-Realities-Eternity-Voyager-Without/dp/0886779464/
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Chanur-Saga-C-Cherryh/dp/0886779308/

    DAW also has packaged up several others in two novel sets: ALLIANCE SPACE, THE DEEP BEYOND, and AT THE EDGE OF SPACE.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 11, 2013 3:06 pm

  20. > I almost envy you the opportunity to experience TunFaire for the first time.

    Thanks Ken. I’ve only found a handful of long-running series that really hold up to reading back-to-back. I have high hopes for these.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 11, 2013 3:16 pm

  21. > I’d quite like to be able to read both Stout and Cook from a position of complete ignorance again.

    Theo,

    I find that I get enormous pleasure introducing my kids to my favorite SF & fantasy writers, now that they’re old enough: Zelazny, Eric Frank Russell, Herbert, H. Beam Piper, Simak. It’s a way to enjoy the books all over again.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 11, 2013 3:20 pm

  22. > Here is a link to the article I mentioned. The focus is on similarities between stories in the Corpus (Wolfe) and the Canon (Holmes).

    Sherlock,

    Finally had a chance to peruse this over the weekend… fascinating stuff.

    You (and Theo) have certainly piqued my interest in Nero Wolfe. Although reading your summary, I can’t help but think that a modern detective who’s a shut-in for decades would be virtually helpless today… can you imagine a detective who didn’t understand cell phones, tablets, or the Web? All of which have emerged since 1995.

    Have you ever seen THE ZERO EFFECT, the Bill Pullman – Ben Stiller mystery in which Pullman played a Wolfe-like character? I quite enjoyed it.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 11, 2013 3:31 pm

  23. > Robert Goldsborough has recently published a new Nero Wolfe pastiche, Archie Meets Nero Wolfe.

    This looks VERY interesting. Trying to figure out when it is set… 1929?

    Comment by John ONeill - February 11, 2013 3:34 pm

  24. > I loved the fist half of the series but thought it hit the “Why are you still writing these? Surely the next will be the last one”
    > stage around Petty Pewter Gods

    Jeff,

    I know what you mean — hence my comment above about having a hard time finding a series that’s still gripping when read back-to-back. Although I have friends who swear that Jim Butcher’s DRESDEN books hold up about as well as you could hope for.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 11, 2013 3:36 pm

  25. > After [being] introduced to “Mad Shadows” and Sword Noir, here on Black Gate…

    Periklis,

    Glad to hear you discovered both Joe Bonadonna’s MAD SHADOWS and Fraser Ronald’s SWORD NOIR at Black Gate! Just think of it as a public service. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - February 11, 2013 3:53 pm

  26. John,

    I already had all the individual volumes, but I remember being really irritated/confused by that Chanur omnibus when it first came out — story-wise, it’s the equivalent of putting out a Tolkien collection that includes The Hobbit, Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. I think it wasn’t until years later that DAW finally published a second omnibus with the final volume of the Chanur trilogy plus a follow-up novel Cherryh had written later.

    I do like the idea of omnibus reprints as a way to keep older material available, but that wasn’t the best way to do it …

    Comment by Joe H. - February 11, 2013 4:31 pm

  27. >Have you ever seen THE ZERO EFFECT, the >Bill Pullman – Ben Stiller mystery in >which Pullman played a Wolfe-like >character? I quite enjoyed it.

    Comment by John ONeill – February 11, 2013 3:31 pm

    Yes, I did enjoy The Zero Effect (it is streamable on Netflix). It did have a Nero Wolfe feel to it. Solid cast.

    As to when Archie and Wolfe met: the stories contain some inconsistencies similar to the Watson recounting of Holmes’ adventures. This is one of them.

    The Wolfe stories are contemporary and Fer De Lance (the first one by Stout) was published in 1934. Archie relates he had worked for Wolfe for 7 years by then. So, their meeting would be in 1927.

    But Wolfe also says (somewhere) that he came to America in 1930 (I think it was). So, circa 1929 works, but it’s not definitive.

    I will not so humbly say that I think I qualify as a Sherlockian (my speciality is Holmes in film and on tv and the Solar Pons stories).

    But as big a fan of, and as much as I’ve read and written about him, I think that the Nero Wolfe stories are “better” than the Holmes tales. Rex Sout was THAT GOOD a writer. And they hold up incredibly well. I do envy you discovering this treasure chest of mystery fiction.

    Comment by Sherlock - February 12, 2013 10:25 am

  28. John, so far Brust’s Taltos series is holding up for me pretty well, although it took a dip after book five.

    Simon R Green’s Nightside City has held up for me. It’s formulaic mind candy, but watching the monsters head for the exit when the protag tells them his name never ceases to satisfy me.

    Comment by Jeff Stehman - February 12, 2013 11:29 am

  29. > it’s the equivalent of putting out a Tolkien collection that includes The Hobbit, Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. I think it wasn’t
    > until years later that DAW finally published a second omnibus with the final volume of the Chanur trilogy plus a follow-up novel
    > Cherryh had written later.

    Joe,

    Thanks for the warning. I still appreciate the omnibus editions but, yeah, I can see how that would be irritating!

    Comment by John ONeill - February 19, 2013 12:12 am

  30. > I think that the Nero Wolfe stories are “better” than the Holmes tales. Rex Sout was THAT GOOD a writer.
    > And they hold up incredibly well. I do envy you discovering this treasure chest of mystery fiction.

    Sherlock,

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve added Nero Wolfe to my Amazon wish list… the trouble now is figuring out where to start!

    Comment by John ONeill - February 19, 2013 12:15 am

  31. > Simon R Green’s Nightside City has held up for me. It’s formulaic mind candy, but watching the monsters head for the exit
    > when the protag tells them his name never ceases to satisfy me.

    Jeff,

    Thanks — I’ve wondered about the NIGHTSIDE books. I bought a few a while ago, but have not made the time to try them. Good to know my investment was a solid one.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 19, 2013 12:16 am

  32. […] New Treasures: Introducing Garrett, P.I. […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The Top 50 Black Gate Blog Posts in February - April 3, 2013 12:57 pm

  33. It’s been over a year since John’s post on this series. So, I’m re-reading the first book, ‘Sweet Silver Blues,’ for an upcoming Public Life of Sherlock Holmes post.

    This is an absolutely fantastic series, combining elements from the hard boiled PI and humorous fantasy genres along with Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books.

    I’m a big fan of Cook’s BLACK COMPANY series, which is completely opposite of the Garrett series in every way. Except in that they’re both excellent.

    If John’s post didn’t make you go out and read a Garret PI book, hopefully my upcoming post will. If I had waaaay more spare time, I’d re-read the whole thing now.

    Comment by Bob Byrne - July 30, 2014 11:59 am

  34. Thanks, Bob. Glad to hear you’ve got a Garret post in the works — looking forward to it!

    Comment by John ONeill - July 30, 2014 12:22 pm

  35. All three collections are now available in ebook format and at about $4 per single novel, that’s a worthwhile purchase.

    Comment by Bob Byrne - December 11, 2015 3:12 pm

  36. And, a subsequent post on Garrett here at Black Gate.

    https://www.blackgate.com/2014/08/11/the-public-life-of-sherlock-holmes-those-sweet-silver-blues-garrett-pi/

    Comment by Bob Byrne - December 11, 2015 3:14 pm

  37. Good news — thanks Bob!

    Comment by John ONeill - December 12, 2015 1:33 pm


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