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Title: Cruel Zinc Melodies
Series: Garrett, PI #12
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
It’s winter in TunFaire, and life has slowed down for Garrett (meaning work seldom intrudes to interrupt his beer drinking and lounging about), until a parade of lovely ladies led by his favorite fiery red-head makes its way through his door. The red-head in question is none other than Tinnie Tate, Garrett’s girlfriend, and she’s accompanied by Alyx Weider, sultry temptress and daughter of the local beer baron, and several other friends. It turns out the girls have aspirations to become an acting troupe for a new theater that Alyx’s father, Max Weider, is building to keep his youngest daughter happy and to have a new vehicle for moving more of his product.
The trouble is that Max needs some help. It seems that construction of his theater, The World, is beset by ghosts, bugs, and break-ins. Garrett figures that this is pretty much a security job, and ends up bringing in some of the usual crew including Saucerhead Tharpe and even Winger.
Right off the bat, Garrett wraps up the break-in problem, as it seems that a gang of kids was trying their hand at the racketeering business. The ghosts and bugs present a bit more of a problem. It turns out that the bugs are of sorcerous origin and the result of some sorcerous experimentation by a group of kids from the Hill, led by Kip Prose. Worse yet, the bugs have been disturbing the sleep of a large entity from a bygone age that has been slumbering for eons beneath the ground that The World is being built upon.
With Garrett’s knack for finding trouble, he ends up attracting attention from the Guard, Prince Rupert, and several nasty sorcerous types from The Hill. In the end, with the help of The Dead Man, John Stretch and his telepathically controlled rats, and a smoldering hot sorceress called the Windwalker Furious Tide of Light, Garrett eliminates the bugs and makes contact with the dormant creature (through the ghostly form of Eleanor), convincing it to be careful of the humans and creatures living above it.
Despite the story, this is just as much about Garrett growing up as anything in the mystery part. Of course, considering he’s in his 30’s, I have a hard time accepting it, but better late than never.
With all of the changes in TunFaire, Garrett has rubbed, and continues to rub, shoulders with some pretty impressive individuals. This translates to him having responsibilities shoved onto his shoulders that in earlier books he’d just have sneered at and ignored. Throw in his “relationship” with Tinnie Tate getting serious (which is what SHOULD have happened from Book 1) and suddenly Garrett is becoming an adult, finally.
What I didn’t enjoy was Garrett’s fighting that growing up every step of the way. It was like listening to a gradeschooler whine about how hard their life is because they have TWO math lessons for homework instead of the usual one. Garrett still has a lot of growing up to do.
It is also apparent that Cook is just running out of ideas. The war is over and Cook, and every character in the book, doesn’t seem to know how to write noir’ish mystery story set during a peace time. Cook doesn’t appear to be to good at writing conflict that doesn’t spring from some sort of war. While I’m not looking forward to this series ending, I won’t be sad or wishing for more once it does.