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Sweet Silver Blues by Glen Cook

Sweet Silver Blues (1987)

by Glen Cook

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Garrett P.I. (1)

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I'm not a fan of hard-boiled detective novels, and I didn't think this was a very good one. ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
This is very similar to the Harry Dresden books, but suffers by the comparison. It's ok, but lacks focus both in plotting and writing. ( )
  StigE | Feb 22, 2014 |
1st book in series, so weaker than the others. ( )
  MikeRhode | Feb 21, 2014 |
First in a series of books written in the early years of urban fantasy as a genre. The majority of those that I've been reading recently have been set in a recognisable world with just magical elements or creatures added in to make the difference. This one takes a different tack by adding the hard-boiled private detective, a la Sam Spade, to an altogether made up world which contains those aforementioned magical bits. Garrett, the PI at the heart of the series, is a hero of the long-running and still active Cantard war (i.e. he survived his tour of duty) and provides the narration for this tale. He's hired by a gnome called Willard Tate who's son, Denny, had died in an accident and has left a fortune in silver in his will to a woman that his father had never heard of. Garrett knew Denny from his time after he got out of the army with both of them frequenting ex-servicemen establishments and a friendship was built which had somewhat lapsed over the years since. He also recognises the name of the woman having had a fling with her in his teenage army days and still holds a candle for his early crush. It soon becomes apparent that the hoard of silver has not been obtained by legal means and so there will probably be other nefarious types interested in its disposition so Garrett's first order of business will be to hire some protection. Morley Dotes, a half-elf of the dark variety fits that bill and as they're heading into the Cantard suggests taking along some grolls (human/troll hybrids) instead of mules. They can carry twice as much for twice as long and they're a lot more handy in a fight. Garrett also enlist some help from the Dead Man, a Loghyr killed some four hundred years ago but they tend to stick around a while even after they die. A deductive genius who also happens to have psychic powers but because of his condition unable to leave his current locale so Garrett turns to him for advice and any pointers he might be able to supply. So then it's time to gather up Morley and the grolls along with a couple of unexpected tagalongs and set off on his investigation and try to find the missing heiress.

This is much more aimed at the fantasy end of the spectrum than the majority of the genre. I'd say it was more of a quest adventure than a true detective story though the lead character is a very typical hard-boiled private detective type. The tone of the narration is very straightforward and matter of fact. The world-building is there but the point of focus never strays far away from the main plot. Characters are fleshed out through interaction with each other rather than extended descriptive passages though anyone wanting strong female characters should probably not look here. Those that do feature are treated as the typical dames that the genre is famous for. There is enough humour to lighten the mood when the tension rises as the investigation uncovers much more than a simple missing persons case. I wasn't transfixed by the story and I know from reading some of the author's other work he can do better but as this was an early book by him I'm willing to progress with the series and see how it goes. ( )
  AHS-Wolfy | Nov 16, 2013 |
In any reasonably thorough exploration of the space of Urban Fantasy, the bizarre combination of hardboiled noir detective stories and fantasy, Glen Cook's Garrett, PI series is definitely a necessary read. From my understanding, Garrett is one of the first urban fantasies written. It certainly is a landmark in the genre.

One of the things I loved most about the story was the world. Garrett's world is significantly more creative than the UF norm: a low-fantasy merging of our world with a secret society of individuals with special powers. Garrett lives on a totally original, fully-fledged fantasy realm where magic is the norm and dark elves, ratmen, ogres, and more coexist with humans in noisy, busy, and overcrowded cities. The atmosphere of cities themselves, especially TunFaire, where Garrett lives, feels a bit like Anhk Morpork: a cheerful, amoral chaos where mythical creatures rub shoulders with practical magical inventions. The world also has a complex history: there is an ongoing war between two of the human-inhabited countries over an area of silver mines, since silver is a necessary ingredient used by wizards in their spells. Cook does a fantastic job twisting common mythical creatures into new, creative, and realistic-feeling versions. For example, unicorns are vicious creatures that travel in packs and hunt humans.

The front blurb of my book called compared Garrett to Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, and while I do think that Garrett is a prime example of a famous hardboiled detective, I don't think that detective is Marlowe. To me, Garrett feels more like a reincarnation of Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade from The Maltese Falcon. Unlike Marlowe, Garrett tends not to engage in the obligatory private detective snarkfest and even in his narration, he avoids the colorful metaphors that characterize Marlowe's narration. Marlowe is the quintessential tarnished knight on the mean streets: outwardly cynical, he is actually a chivalrous (read chauvanistic) softhearted idealist. He speaks joshingly and disrespectfully to women and constantly objectifies them physically, but internally puts them on a pedestal. Marlowe's tragedy is that he wants to see all women as pure and beautiful damsels to be protected and sheltered, but the femme fatales he encounters constantly disappoint him. Garrett, like Sam Spade, has none of Marlowe's idealism. Both Garrett and Spade tend to treat women as "a bit of tail" to be used and discarded. Granted, the women that Garrett encounters are completely obnoxious, but I was still shocked by Garrett's total disregard for their safety. In one scene, women he is familiar with are captured by enemy agents and threatened by vampires. Garrett is unfazed and doesn't rescue them, even though he has the opportunity. Marlowe would have been incapable of such an action. However, this attitude does track with Spade's, who was much more competent than Marlowe at coolly judging a situation and taking the most logical and safety.

Garrett also captures Spade's enigmatic personality. Like Spade, he appears to be very comfortable with death and murder, to the point that he does exhibit any outward reactions of regret or sadness when a character he knows is killed. To me, this made for a very interesting read, since even though Garrett acts as a first-person narrator, I was often left unable to interpret his true feelings. Garrett tends strip events of emotion during his narration, and I often found his few comments about his feelings to be cryptic. He also tends to skip over the details of his journeys or battles, summarizing them in a single sentence and spending much more effort on the minutiae and inconveniences of travel. Although perhaps less engaging to read, I thought this wasn't necessarily a problem, as it gave Garrett a unique phlegmatic voice: that of someone who avoids remembering or repeating unpleasant events. The duality and differences between the narrator's presentation of himself and his true emotions is one of my favorite aspects of first-person. The book definitely captures the hardboiled detective vibe. Garrett himself must do dubious deals with individuals even more brutal than himself. He must make questionable decisions that have fatal consequences. Yet despite all this, the book is coloured in humour and creativity.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book, but not for the characters, or even, really, the plot; the world was so engaging that it captured my interest and imagination. I'll be picking up the next book; I hope, but don't particularly expect, to like the characters more, but I'm fairly sure that the fantastic and creative world that Garrett inhabits won't disappoint.
( )
  page.fault | Sep 21, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Glen Cookprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hildebrandt, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451450701, Mass Market Paperback)

It should have been a simple job. But for Garrett, a human detective in a world of gnomes, tracking down the woman to whom his dead pal Danny left a fortune in silver is no slight task. Even with the aid of Morley, the toughest half-elf around, Garrett isn't sure he'll make it out alive from a land where magic can be murder, the dead still talk, and vampires are always hungry for human blood.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Private investigator Garrett, hero of the Cantard Wars, reluctantly agrees to return to the perilous Cantard mining country in search of a missing heiress. His companions include a renegade half-elf, a trio of frog-like "grolls," and two sharp-tongued women with their own interest in the quest's success or failure.--From Library Journal.… (more)

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