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Title: Whispering Nickel Idols
Series: Garrett, PI # 11
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Things seemed to be going pretty well for Garrett one morning until he finds a strange kid named Penny Dreadful hanging around his house, gets summoned to a meeting by Harvester Temisk, Chodo Contague’s lawyer, and nearly has his door knocked down by an ugly thug wearing green plaid pants. Garrett meets with Temisk, who fears there are unnatural events occurring associated with Chodo Contague, who may not be as paralyzed as he appears. Garrett agrees to look into the matter that evening, at a birthday party being held by Belinda Contague for her father.
At the party, when Chodo is introduced to the guests, a number of people mysteriously burst into flames, and in the confusion that follows, Belinda and Chodo somehow get separated. The whole mess seems to have some connection with the Ugly Pants Gang, who continues to harass Garrett at his home and on the streets. In addition, Garrett is getting more attention than he likes from subordinate underworld bosses who suspect that Garrett knows where Chodo Contague is hiding. Garrett can only escape the warring mafia factions for so long, and eventually he is captured, poisoned, and blackmailed by one aspiring leader named Teacher White.
With the help of his friends and the psychic powers of the Dead Man, Garrett survives the worst of the ordeal. While he rests and recuperates at home, the Dead Man organizes efforts geared towards unraveling the mysteries of the Green Pants Gang, the criminal factions, and the spontaneous combustions. Compiling the efforts of Garrett’s many friends, the Dead Man deduces that the Green Pants Gang is actually a religious faction from outside of TunFaire, and Chodo Contague had at one point worked with the gang to help him rise to the top of the Outfit.
With some clues from the Dead Man, Garrett, Morley, and company track down and capture Harvester Temisk, who had been hiding out with Chodo Contague. More clever deductive reasoning by the Dead Man reveals a few final plot twists: Penny Dreadful is in fact Chodo Contague’s daughter, Chodo was partially responsible for the previously unexplainable spontaneous combustions, and the Green Pants Gang actually knows the secret to drawing dark emotions out from within the body. With the help of Garrett and the Dead Man, Chodo’s condition improves, so that he is no longer completely physically and mentally impaired.
As a finale, Morley Dotes drops by Garrett’s house, with none other than Mr. Big, Garrett’s much-despised parrot which had gone missing for some time, perched on his shoulder.
Another good Garret PI read, with the usual caveats about him being a womanizing scumbag. Cook does seem to be trying to “mature” Garrett, as things are getting serious between him and Tinny Tate, but Garrett still balks at the word “marriage”.
The city has changed, as has Garrett in many ways, to the point where it seems obvious that Cook is trying to wrap up the series in a few more books. It obviously helps that I know that the series ends, but if I had been reading these as they came out, I would like to think I could see the hand writing on the wall. Law and Order are becoming entrenched in Tun-Faire and even those Up on the Hill are starting to feel the affects of it. The need for a PI is shrinking. Garrett is also becoming involved in bigger business issues, so he’s financially secure, with no need to do private investigating to earn his beer money. So between the city becoming more orderly, Garrett having no need to be a PI and things getting serious with Tinny, yeah, the end is in sight.
Cook also makes it apparent how much Garrett’s reputation has grown throughout Tun-Faire. With him having had all his adventures with various big names from the Underworld to those Up on the Hill, he’s earned a name as a Power to Be Reckoned With. Of course, Garrett tries to ignore all of it, as he just wants to wench, drink and sleep 24/7. What a jackass.
So, a pretty average Garrett PI story alround. If you’ve liked the previous books, you’ll like this one. I’m just glad this didn’t nosedive like I thought it would.