I have gone on record as not being very fond of fantasy. I do, however, make one exception, and that is for Glen Cook’s Garrett PI series. That is one fantasy series that I love. Glen Cook is perhaps more famous for his Black Company stories, but I’m not into dark, gritty war stories. Nope, I’m all in for Cook’s Raymond Chandler inspired take on a wise-guy private eye in a fantasy world. A fantasy world that includes everything in fantasy from gods, to a dead Loghyr, plus elves, vampires, centaurs, ogres, pixies, wizards, witches, grolls, giants, rat people, shape changers, space aliens, woolly mammoths, to rampaging dinosaurs. And I’m sure that’s not an exhaustive list, since the series is fourteen books long.
The series, which he began writing in 1987, has a sort of urban fantasy vibe to it since the stories are often set in and around the city of TunFairee. Garrett operates a detective agency out of his house on Macunado Street. A house that he shares with the slowly decaying body of a dead Loghyr, who, despite his body being dead, is still alive and able to communicate telepathically. In addition to the Loghyr, we are introduced to a whole slew of Garrett’s friends who come and go in his life, from a rat gild to a club owner, gangsters, thugs, and mercenaries. Plus his rather iffy clients and deadly enemies.
One of my requirements for enjoying a book is that it has characters that I would like to hang out with. I want likable characters. I don’t crave being around unpleasant people either in my life or in my reading. While I am sure some readers find unpleasant characters interesting, or are more interested in the plot or idea of the story, than the characters, I’m a character focused reader. And in the Garret stories you not only have the first person narrator, Garret, but you soon come to know his wide circle of friends as well. And as the series progresses, it sort of takes on the air of a cozy mystery. You have Garrett in his house, with its deep well where he keeps his beer cold. You have his brilliant friend, the dead but still telepathically alive Loghyr. And one by one, his friends turn up to do their part in solving whatever outlandish crime or mystery Garret is hired to solve. These old friends make for a comfortable story to to get into. I have to admit that I’ve read most of them at least three times. Every four or five years, I’ll pick up the first book, and end up reading through the whole series. Heck, I’m half tempted to start again. In times like these, a long, cozy series is just what the doc ordered.
While Glen Cook is not quite Raymond Chandler for pure writing style, his writing is entertaining, his plots, and world building are intricate and creative. While the covers, which have Garrett looking like a ‘40’s detective complete with a trench coat and fedora, are a bit of artistic license, Cook writes Garrett in the spirit of a tough, but honest private eye in the Philip Marlowe mold. And he takes that character and plunks him into the middle of a city that has all sorts of mythical creatures, against a backdrop of a never ending foreign war, civil and racial unrest, and corruption, high and low.
I’ve read a number of other Glen Cook books, some of this speculative fiction, Passage at Arms, and The Dragon Never Sleeps, which were interesting. I also have read one or two of his Instrumentalities of the Night series, but they were closer to the type of fantasy that that doesn’t appeal to me, so I haven’t read them all. And as I’ve read a Black Company story, which isn’t my thing, though I seem to recall that it’s been optioned for a TV series.
I’m an author orientated reader. If I like the way an author writes, I’ll usually give all his or her books at least a try, and collect the ones I like. So my library shelves are often devoted to the works of one author. Glen Cook has his shelf, and I’m sure I’ll get around to highlighting my other favorite authors with their own shelves in future installments.
, my newest story, a 34,000 word novella, is scheduled to be released on Apple, B & N Kobo, and Smashwords for free on 17 Sept 2020. It will be released on Amazon for $.99 on 17 September 2020.