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Garrett, P.I. is a long-running Fantasy noir series by Glen Cook. A Low Fantasy story set in a High Fantasy world, more specifically a fantasy counterpart of St. Louis populated by pretty much every fantasy creature ever conceived, the series follows the eponymous private investigator through his Chandleresque adventures. Though it also has elements of Nero Wolfe -- after providing all the foot-work and investigating, Garrett will sometimes visit his immobile, dead-yet-dreaming partner; who will then read the hero's mind and deduce a possible solution to the mystery. The series has also been compared to (and may have partially inspired) The Dresden Files as its opposite. Instead of a wizard using magic to investigate and solve crimes Garret is instead a fairly "traditional" detective in a fantasy world who uses real-world (and fairly mundane) techniques to unravel his mysteries.


Novels in this series

  • Sweet Silver Blues (1987).
  • Bitter Gold Hearts (1988).
  • Cold Copper Tears (1988).
  • Old Tin Sorrows (1989).
  • Dread Brass Shadows (1990).
  • Red Iron Nights (1991).
  • Deadly Quicksilver Lies (1994).
  • Petty Pewter Gods (1995).
  • Faded Steel Heat (1999).
  • Angry Lead Skies (2002).
  • Whispering Nickel Idols (2005).
  • Cruel Zinc Melodies (2008).
  • Gilded Latten Bones (2010).
  • Wicked Bronze Ambition (Working Title)

Garret has also appeared in The Shadow Thieves, a short story published in 2011's urban fantasy collection Down These Strange Streets and "an investigator from TunFaire" was mentioned in The Dreamland Chronicles by Wm Mark Simmons

Garrett P.I. has examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Names like Willard Tate, Max Weider, and Fred Blaine (the real name of a powerful sorcerer) side by side with Strafa Algardo (the real name of a powerful sorceress), Chodo Contague, Bic Gonlit, and many others.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: "You could weep for the pain of the child while knowing you had to destory the monster it had become."
  • Alien Abduction: This is how the Goddamn Parrot was Put on a Bus, to Garrett's immense relief.
  • Angrish: Bound to happen when someone gets frustrated and/or bopped on the head as often as Garrett.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Elenor's painting, though Garrett's the only one who can see it.
  • Anything That Moves: Morley. Garrett too, to an extent.
  • Anticlimax: What do Garrett and Co do when faced with an insane, incredibly powerful Loghyr? Slowly introduce thousands of hungry rats and insects into its private island to gobble it up. What does Garrett do when he comes into possession of a key that can open the otherworldly gateway and let a God of Evil? Chop it up and sell it for scrap.
    • Given that one of Garrett's main motivations is maintaining his own comfortable little status quo these incredibly lazy solutions are very much in-character.
    • The resolution of the first dilemma listed is also Fridge Brilliance, as it's the one means of eliminating a dead Loghyr which his enemies are unlikely to be able to direct against the Dead Man, who has Garrett on hand to protect him from bugs.
  • Author Tract Cook's views on organized religion are made very clear throughout the series, much as they are in The Black Company.
  • Ax Crazy: Quite a few Big Bads fall into this once the jig is up.
  • Badass Bookworm: Believe it or not, Garrett. Not only can he read and write in a world where literacy is a hot commodity, but the Dead Man's room houses a treasure trove of books (being dead he can' really read, so who are they really for?). He's frequented the local library enough to finish a long trilogy of psuedo-history books and "Deadly Quicksilver Lies" opens with him in his office reading a philosophy book for pleasure. That being said, he does try to downplay his hobby to the reader.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Playmate.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Cruel Zinc Melodies. Garrett's less-than-fond memories of the islands often include references to these too, albeit probably exaggerated.
    • Also, one of the eight-limbed manifestations from Cold Copper Tears took the form of a giant spider.
    • The "little booger" from Deadly Quicksilver Lies isn't all that big, but it does enough damage for a whole swarm of Big Creepy-Crawlies.
  • Big Damn Villains: At the end of Dread Brass Shadows, Garrett is spared the moral dilemma of having to help murder Chodo Contague because the Serpent poisons Chodo first, causing the crime lord to suffer a stroke.
  • The Big Guy: Saucerhead, Playmate, and quite a few others.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A few, but Old Tin Sorrows and Cruel Zinc Melodies in particular stand out.
    • Even the first book in the series, "Sweet Silver Blues" has shades of this and ends with Garrett Drowning his sorrows.
  • BLAM Episode: Petty Pewter Gods, which erased several of the assumptions of the series up to that point, defined it as being in a Crossover Cosmology with Earth, and the myths thereof as well as the Cthulhu mythos, and had no affect whatsoever on the ongoing story arcs or Character Development.
      • Garrett mentions Cthulhu by name at the end of chapter six. "Et tu, Cthulhu?"
      • Possibly Translation Convention at work? He also mentions the Rapture in Gilded Latten Bones while pondering the end of the world, and Karenta's chief religion is only an Expy of Christianity, not the real thing.
      • In Faded Steel Heat, he quotes the First Commandment[1], although in a figurative rather than genuinely religious context, referring to Relway's rage on learning that one of his men was also an agent for a human-supremacist group.
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Both Garrett and The Dead man, both nag each other about it
  • Brown Note: One of the ways Garrett keeps the body-count down in fights is to activate minor one-shot magic items that cause disorientation, nausea, blindness or other temporary impairments.
  • Career Killers: Morley Dotes. There are plenty of mooks and secondary characters paid to kill/bruise people up, but he's the most prominently featured one. Might also coincide with Hitman with a Heart.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Maya after Old Tin Sorrows.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Garrett, big time, in the first book he defends himself when what he even calls "A girlish kick to the shins."
  • Corrupt Church: How Morley and Garrett (and everyone else) sees the various sectors of the Church. (They're pretty much right).
  • Contemptible Cover: Especially for Sweet Silver Blues. There are no guns in this world, thankyouverymuch.
    • Oddly, the rest of the cover actually sums up the novel's world nicely, Garret (this time without a hat, he almost never wears a hat) is a Noir detective meeting with a bunch of ... dwarfs (okay, half-elves, whatever).
    • The back covers' blurbs are often pretty misleading as well.
  • Continuity Nod: Usually at least one per book and usually to the previous book in the series.
    • The vampire-nest from book one got a nod about half a dozen books later, as a hideout for Glory Mooncalled's guerrilla forces.
  • Convenient Coma: Chodo Contague.
  • Covers Always Lie: The covers of the novels almost always show Garrett in a suit with a long coat and either a Fedora or Trilby hat. He never dresses like this in the story itself (in fact descriptions of fashions are very rare indeed), and in particular seldom remembers to wear a hat, much to his annoyance when it rains.
    • The cover of Sweet Silver Blues, the first book in the series, shows several characters holding submachineguns, and has a light switch visible on a wall. The series takes place in a high fantasy world with full-on Medieval Stasis.
      • Well... this is a little screwy, the level of technology as far as weaponry and transportation is at the Medieval Stasis level, but in some of the (rare) descriptions we get of urban architecture, manufacturing, and some of the clothing comes right out of the Noir era. It's a unique series.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Hano and Terrel = God and Jesus to the Church and the Orthodox. Plenty of other religions coexist with them, human and otherwise, but these are the dominant Karentine human faiths.
  • Cult: Several of them throughout the series.
  • Cute Kitten: Whispering Nickel Idols.
  • Dark Age of Supernames: Sorcerers adopt aliases. These are obviously intended (by the sorcerers) to sound cool and menacing. Often, they just sound pretentious, and this may be Lampshaded mercilessly. Examples include Raver Styx, Fox Direheart ("just old Fred Blaine at home"), Invisible Black, Furious Tide of Light, and Dreamstalker Doomscrye (or possibly Doomstalker Dreamscrye).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Just about everyone, Garrett included.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Literally so in works of art, such as the statue from Old Tin Sorrows.
  • Disproportionate Reward: Garrett suffers this at the hands of Chodo Contague after inadvertently helping him eliminate a threat and (later) saving his life. Chodo feels indebted to him, and wouldn't hesitate to kill off any number of mooks to be square. Garrett is not happy about this, seeing as how Chodo personifies everything he despises.
  • Distressed Damsel: Often what gets the story rolling.
  • Divine Date: in Petty Pewter Gods.
  • Dungeon Punk
  • Eldritch Abomination
  • Embarrassing First Name: Waldo Tharpe, aka Saucerhead.
  • Evil Albino: The chieftain of a half-elven street gang Garrett tangles with in Cold Copper Tears is an albino called Snowball.
  • Evil Cripple: Chodo Contague
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Blood thirsty, carnivorous unicorns? Check. Thunder lizards? Check. Ghosts, zombies, elves, gnomes, dwarves, vampires, trolls and about a zillion other random mythic creatures, plus a few new ones (Mostly due to the others constantly screwing each other)? Double check.
  • Fantastic Noir
  • Fantastic Racism: All over the damn place, given that there are so many races mingling in Tun Faire to begin with. Both Garrett and Morley face anti-human and anti-mixed breed sentiment all the time. Morley himself seems to have a special hatred for tiny races (pixies, leprechauns), and a dislike for Ratpeople which Garrett shares until Singe comes into his life. Garrett does develop respect (if not actual fondness) for her brother, John Stretch, as well.
    • Becomes a major political concern after the war's end, when human soldiers return home to find non-humans occupying all the civilian jobs.
  • Fiery Redhead: Tinnie Tate.
  • First-Person Smartass: Garrett.
  • The Gambling Addict: Morley, early in the series.
  • Genius Bruiser: Playmate.
  • Genre Busting: The whole series combines Film Noir with fantasy, and Angry Lead Skies tosses Grey-like aliens into the mix.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: A major part of Petty Pewter Gods involves the squabble between two minor pantheons struggling to keep a vacant temple in the local religious section of town. whoever gets kicked off the block will most likely fade away into nonexistance from lack of belief.
  • Granola Girl: Guy, actually. Morley strongly believes that greens are nature's cure alls, and that fresh air and exercise stave off all kinds of horrible diseases, and is very vocal about his opinions. Garrett points out that it kind of clashes with the fact he kills people for a living.
    • It's also suggested that this kind of thinking is very much a Dark Elf thing.
  • Groin Attack: Garrett tends to dish these out in close combat, and several plot-relevant characters have been on the receiving end over the series.
    • Taken to Squicky extremes by the cultists from Cold Copper Tears.
  • Handsome Lech: Morley. Also Garrett, shading into Chivalrous Pervert. A general who met him briefly during his wartime service recalled him as "the kid who could find a girl anywhere, even in the middle of an uninhabited swamp."
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Loads.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Garrett, obviously. Pokey Pigota also.
  • Heinz Hybrid: Also loads, to the point where there's a slang term ("unique") for hybrids with complicated ancestry.
  • Heroic BSOD: In Old Tin Sorrows, Garrett has one of these after dealing with a particularly sad ghost with a tragic history.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: For someone so obsessed with law and order, a whole lot of people have managed to vanish under Deal Relway's watch. . .
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Garrett and Morley, bordering on Ho Yay sometimes.
  • Horsing Around: Garrett's running-gag feud with the equine species.
  • Hospital Hottie: Doc Chaz
  • Hot Librarian: Linda Lee
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Played straight with Saucerhead's various petite girlfriends; inverted with Winger and the Remora.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Garrett's opinion on the matter, though technically it's more like 'everyone is a bastard'.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All books in the series follow an Adjective-Metal-Noun format, which may soon prove a problem when Cook runs out of metals. The most recent being Gilded Latten Bones, he's already dipping into the obscure...
    • Presumably he's saving "bronze" for the series finale, else you'd think he'd have used it a while back.
  • Innocent Aliens: Angry Lead Skies has several groups of "silver elves", most of which were innocently trying to spread knowledge and peace throughout the universe. Of course, It doesn't really work out that way.
  • Kill It with Fire: How Garrett and Morley deal with vampires in the first book, and how the draugs' cut-up remains are destroyed in Old Tin Sorrows.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Garrett, big time.
  • Knight Templar: Deal Relway.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: The witch Handsome from Deadly Quicksilver Lies runs one.
  • Living MacGuffin: Garrett accidentally becomes one of these in Petty Pewter Gods due to some Powers That Be meddling. They Intended for him to pick which of the warring pantheons should continue to exist, possibly gathering a large amount of money by the way of bribes along the way. It didn't work out that way.
  • Mad Artist: Snake (from Old Tin Sorrows). A little bit of innate, unfocused magic, mixed with his insanity means that every painting of his has a bit of magic in it, for better or worse.
  • Magic A Is Magic A
  • Mafia Princess: Belinda Contague
  • Manly Tears: Garrett in Old Tin Sorrows. It's completely justified.
  • Meat Versus Veggies: A regular topic of casual back-and-forth carping between Garrett and Morley.
  • Medieval Stasis: Kiiiiiiind of; although certain things have advanced, weapons are straight out of the dark ages and electricity is nowhere to be seen outside of a summer storm. Other things suggest a much more urban and modern setting, though. For instance: indoor plumbing is available but not always common. Houses and buildings are usually multiple stories, yet Garrett's entire ground floor has only one window. From "Angry Lead Skies" onwards, technology and manufacturing starts advancing very quickly.
  • Memetic Badass: Glory Mooncalled is an in-universe example.
  • Mission Control: The Dead Man invokes this trope on a couple of cases, by way of his psychic influence over Mr. Big.
  • More Than Mind Control: Dead Man can peek into people's heads, move objects around, and generally screw around with people. He just doesn't because he's lazy.
  • Mythology Gag: The grandmother of Furious Tide of Light is herself a powerful sorceress, using the name Shadowslinger. The second book of the Black Company series is titled Shadows Linger.
  • The Nicknamer: Garrett. He usually winds up calling people whose names he doesn't know things like 'Weasely Guy' and the like.
  • Noble Bigot: Lt. Nagit from Faded Steel Heat. Marengo North English tries to be this, but falls short on the "Noble" part in the clinch.
  • No Name Given: Nobody uses Garrett's first name, ever. Oddly enough, nobody in story seems to notice, or at least not to care. If he does He must have a first name, because references to his family make it clear "Garrett" is the family name, but he isn't letting on.
    • Cook's a tease about this, as Garrett's childhood and marine-corps nicknames have both been revealed. Tinnie likewise invents a pet name for him, right at a point in their relationship when you'd expect her to drop "Garrett" and start using his given name.
    • The Dead Man's real name has never been stated either.
  • Nonhuman Humanoid Hybrid: Doris and Marsha
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Pular Singe.
  • Non-Indicative First Episode: The first book in the series ("Sweet Silver Blues") is less of a mystery and more of a fairly straightforward adventure story, albeit told in a noir style.
  • Not a Morning Person: Garrett.
  • Older Than They Look: Some of the nonhumans, such as Cook from Old Tin Sorrows, have been around for many generations of humans.
  • Once an Episode: Garrett WILL get knocked out and/or beaten up at least once per novel.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Cruel Zinc Melodies. Very different, they're sentient fungus.
  • Our Elves Are Different
  • Our Ghosts Are Different
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Subverted? Gnomes are just short people. A whole race of them. The Tates are a reoccurring family of them.
    • Not quite. It's stated that they have some gnomish elf or dwarf blood, but not so much that they can't pass for ordinary humans even among die-hard racists. Garrett does refer to Mr. Tate as "the gnome king" at one point, but that's just him being a Deadpan Snarker; real gnomes, when shown, could barely reach his kneecaps.
  • Our Liches Are Different: The Dead Man is a non-evil psychic variant.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampirism is treated strictly as The Virus and can be cured somewhat easily if it's in the early stages
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The draugs from Old Tin Sorrows.
  • Papa Wolf: Garrett may not want kids, but he's got a protective-father streak a mile wide for his daughter-surrogates. He delivered a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Maya's molesting stepfather when they first met, and he's likewise highly protective of Singe's dignity and virtue.
  • Parental Incest: Several of the named female characters have a backstory of being sexually molested by their stepfathers (war casualties resulted in a lot of widows who remarried). And then there's the powerful sorceress "Furious Tide of Light," who had her father's daughter -- for extra Squick, it's hinted that her mother was his mother, too, although this was apparently later proven incorrect. Most bizarrely, Garrett notes in the latest book that these two are some of the nicest, most admirable people in the sorcerous power structure. Good Lord.
    • Previous historical references in Red Iron Nights suggest that incest isn't uncommon among the sorcerous elite, because magical ability is genetic and inbreeding amplifies this over generations. The fact that this usually leaves most sorcerers inbred and insane doesn't bother anyone.
  • Petting Zoo People
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: The Dead Man is a Straw Misogynist to the core, for comedic reasons -- largely something else for him and Garrett to bicker like old women over.
  • Powers That Be: Annoy the heck out of Garrett in Petty Pewter Gods.
  • Rags to Riches: Pular Singe. Not yet rich by human standards, but already an unprecedented success among ratpeople, and she's still young.
  • Recycled in Space: The early novels were essentially Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe in a fantasy setting.
  • Redheaded Hero: Garret himself.
  • Religion of Evil: The doomsday-cult Sons of Hammon.
  • Right Behind Me: The opening of Red Iron Nights blends this one with Genre Savvy, and hangs a lampshade on it to boot.
  • Running Gag: Nobody believes that Mr. Big (AKA 'The Goddamned Parrot') can really talk on his own.
  • Screw You, Elves
  • Semper Fi: Garrett is an ex-Marine, and has a bit of an attitude about it.
  • Servile Snarker: Dean. His reaction to Garrett's various supernaturally inclined, city/world saving endeavors? Nagging him about his love of the sauce, his taste in women, and how he needs to get a steady job.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: Shapeshifters fall under type B. It's mentioned that one of the unnamed shifters takes on the looks of a soldier he fought with during the war, several decades before the current story and a few months before the entire group of shapeshifters pull a Face Heel Turn.
  • Shout-Out: The scene where Garrett is hired in Old Tin Sorrows is lifted intact from The Big Sleep. After the end of Sweet Silver Blues, the continuing household dynamic of Garrett (Archie Goodwin), the Dead Man (Nero Wolfe) and Dean (Fritz Brenner) is set up.
    • In Angry Lead Skies, Garrett cites a Noodle Incident as proof of Winger's boneheadedness, in which she stole a singing sword that wouldn't shut up. His description of its song is a snarky summary of Der Ring des Nibelungen.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: John Stretch (Singe's brother) can talk to rats
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: Reports of people bursting into flames circulate in a couple of the novels, as a rumor going around the city. Garrett finally looks into the matter in Whispering Nickel Idols, and learns that Chodo Contague triggered some of them with the help of some pyrogenic rocks planted by his lawyer. Saucerhead also tracks down some cases that turn out to be ordinary accidental fires, under circumstances very similar to the Real Life mishaps that inspired the Spontaneous Human Combustion Urban Legend in the first place.
  • Spooky Painting: Eleanor's painting, which only Garrett can see move (he even talks to it and half-jokes that he's in love with her), although others are disturbed by it. It may or may not be possessed by her ghost.
  • Straight Gay: Crask and Sadler, Chodo Contague's two top killers, until they tried to take over. If there's any hint of their being lovers in the first seven or eight books, it's very subtle. When it's finally mentioned, nobody makes a big deal of it.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: All the time, in fact it's rare that a case ever ends the way Garret would like it to.
  • The Syndicate: Chodo Contague is the evil crime lord with a hand in nearly every dirty deal going on in TunFaire.
  • That Old Time Prescription: Dean brews willow-bark tea for Garrett after nights of heavy drinking.
  • Title Drop: Starting with Cold Copper Tears.
    • Garret will sometimes provide an alternate Title Drop for the current story which sometimes serves as a Fan Nickname for that particular book such as "Dread Brass Shadows" also being known as "The One With Too Many Redheads" or "Sweet Silver Blues" being called "The One With All The Vampires."
  • Touched by Vorlons: To a lesser extent. In their desperate attempt to get home, the formerly Innocent Aliens fill Kip Prose's head up with all sorts of scientifical know-how and ideas for amazing inventions that he probably never would have come up with on his own. The genius stays with him long after they're gone.
    • Garrett himself appears to have picked up a mild sensitivity to mind-reading, due to his long-term association with (and training by?) the Dead Man.
  • Telepathy: Dead Man communicates this way.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Garrett and beer. Singe and steamed apples.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Morley has a problem with this early in the series until he manages to get his gambling addiction under control.
  • True Companions: Garret, Dean, Singe, and even the Dead Man eventually for a sort of family unit.
  • The Undead: Loads of them. The vampires, for one (although it's stated that Vampirism is actually a disease) . The Dead Man is a Loghyr, which is a species that after death always become spirits haunting their corpses until the body is completely destroyed. In this case, a spirit that can do a little mind control, lift things up, and communicate with (read: insult) Garrett telepathically. Both zombies and draugs pop up in the books too.
  • Unicorn: Sweet Silver Blues inverts their benign image.
  • Unreliable Narrator
  • Unusual Euphemism: The "pirates" from Deadly Quicksilver Lies, or the "silver elves" from Angry Lead Skies. Also, some slang terms for interspecies sexual practices are mentioned in Sweet Silver Blues.
  • Villainous Crossdresser: Deadly Quicksilver Lies Also Recursive
    • Donni Pell from Bitter Gold Hearts is alleged to play the Sweet Polly Oliver trope, but isn't actually seen doing so.
  • Villainous Rescue: Happens a few times when Garrett is caught between rival factions. In Dread Brass Shadows, for example, he's saved from dwarves by Crask and Sadler, then from Chodo's thugs by a passing tyrannosaurus.
  • War Is Hell: Part of Garrett's backstory. Five years in the Marines, most of it stuck in a swamp.
  • Witch Species: Magical talents are implied to be hereditary, and concentrated in Karenta's upperclass families. Magical abilities in commoners are suspected to derive from a (slumming) noble ancestor.
    • However there is a clear distinction made between Sorcery and Witchcraft. True Sorcery is hereditary, Witchcraft can be done by almost anyone.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Garret and Saucerhead are both suckers for anything needy and female, to the point where Garrett needlessly risks his neck when he doesn't have to, and Saucerhead took out several ogres for killing a girl he was supposed to protect.
  • Younger Than They Look: Melondie Kadare's tribe of pixies age much faster than humans, and live out their whole lifespans over the course of a few books.
  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me