Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sweet Silver Blues: Glen Cook


Sweet Silver Blues by Glen Cook  is a cross-genre book, combining fantasy and a detective novel. It is the first in a series of fourteen books, published between 1987 and 2013.  Cook has written many books in both the science fiction and fantasy genres, but he is most well known for his Black Company fantasy series.

In this novel, Garrett is approached by the family of an old friend of his, Denny Tate. The friend died of natural causes, but he has left a fortune to a woman unknown to his family. They want Garrett to find her and let her know of her inheritance. The catch is that she is in a war-torn area called the Cantard. Both Denny and Garrett served five years fighting in the Cantard and made it out alive. Garrett has no desire to return. And there is another catch: the woman he will be looking for was once his lover. Of course, he ends up making the trip, with some hired companions to help out. He will earn a huge fee if he succeeds, but it is mostly curiosity about how Denny acquired the fortune that drives his decision.

Garrett is a private detective along the lines of Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe, although he seems to me more an adventurer sort of like Travis McGee. Although that may be more true of this book than the later books in the series. He is working in a world not so different from our own, which has not reached our level of technological development and which includes fantasy elements. His world is inhabited by elves, dwarves, vampires, grolls (a mixture of human, troll, and other things) and even stranger beings.

The reviews I read seem to be mixed on whether the blending of hard-boiled detective fiction and fantasy works in this case. I fall somewhere in the middle. I did not like this one as much as some other books that blend fantasy and detective fiction, yet it was very entertaining and I do want to come back for more.

These are the reasons I am going to read more of the series: (A) I have an omnibus with the next two books in the series; (B) I find the premise interesting and I expect improvements in later books; (C) I have read comparisons to the Nero Wolfe series. I did not notice anything like that in this first book, but now I am curious. [I have now read several comments in reviews about the Nero Wolfe connection, so it must be obvious to others. I do prefer homages that don't hit you in the head with the similarities, so I guess he did it right.]

This was the first book I read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge. I am currently reading The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett and I am loving it.

See reviews at Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, & Creased and at Black Gate.


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Publisher:   Published in the omnibus ed. Introducing Garrett, P.I., by ROC, 2011. 
                    (Sweet Silver Blues orig. pub. 1987.)
Length:       220 pages
Series:       Garrett, P.I. #1
Format:      Trade paperback
Setting:      The city of TunFaire, in a fantasy universe.
Genre:        Fantasy / Mystery
Source:      I purchased this book.



16 comments:

  1. I don't generally go for fantasy, Tracy, but this one does sound interesting. And I always respect an author who's willing to take some risks and innovate. I'm glad you found some things to like about it.

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    1. Margot, I am always willing to try a book that experiments with crime fiction genres crossed with other genres. My son has read a zombie PI story I plan to try.

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  2. I picked up a couple in this series but passed them on to my son, who likes fantasy, without reading them.

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    1. Your son may like them more than you would have, Peggy. It is so hard to determine what kind of crime fiction will appeal. But I like to try cross-genre fiction.

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  3. Probably more you than me Tracy, I think.

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    1. Definitely, Col, but it does get gritty with the war setting and all. I will admit to having a problem with vampires.

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  4. Absolutely love that cover, and that - together with the PI content - makes me want to read it. How does it compare with Terry Pratchett, who is one of my favourite writers?

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    1. I like the cover too, Moira, and the funny thing is, the original covers of the paperbacks sometimes deterred people from reading the books. Those who finally got past that did like the books, but this style of cover appeals more to me.

      I am only through my first Pratchett book, so hard to compare. For me, the humor is more appealing in the Pratchett book, but the plot is more appealing in the Glen Cook book. So far.

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  5. Well, I have no problem with combining the genres but I think I'll wait to hear what you make of the others frankly ... Thanks Tracy.

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    1. Sounds good to me, Sergio. You can see I was kind of on the fence on this one. On the other hand, you would notice the similarities to other detectives more than I do. Those things go over my head when I am immersed in a book. I found this one to be one that I enjoyed more when rereading portions of it (while working on the post).

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  6. I read the first three or four books in this series as they appeared and enjoyed them all. Not sure why I didn't continue with it. I do have several of the later ones.

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    1. Glad to hear you liked the early ones, Bill, as I do want to continue this series. Sometimes I have to get used to the style of a writer or the characters and I expect to enjoy the next one more.

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  7. Tracy, I think, to some extent a lot of fantasy and science fiction, and even some westerns, can pass off as "detective" fiction. There are common elements in all three genres. I actually like the idea of a mystery-fantasy and the fact that PI Garrett has to travel to another land to solve the case.

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    1. I agree, Prashant, especially with Westerns. Which is why I should read more of them. I think you would like this book, since you already read a good bit of fantasy and science fiction.

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  8. Love the cover, Tracy, with the "introducing" on the glass in the door. Not so sure about the mix of mystery and fantasy, tho. I'll be following your take as you read more of these. Then maybe I'll take the plunge.

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    1. I hope to get to the next one in this series sometime this year, Mathew. We will see what I think of that one. I am glad I finally gave the series a try.

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