Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey #3) ★★★✬☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Unnatural Death
Series: Lord Peter Wimsey #3
Author: Dorothy Sayers
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 222
Words: 81K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com

Lord Peter Wimsey and his friend Chief Inspector Parker are told about the death, in late 1925, of an elderly woman named Agatha Dawson who had been suffering from terminal cancer. She was being cared for by Mary Whittaker, her great-niece and a trained nurse. Miss Dawson had an extreme aversion to making a will, believing that Miss Whittaker, her only known relative, would naturally inherit everything. Wimsey is intrigued in spite of the fact that there is no evidence of any crime (a post-mortem found no sign of foul play), nor any apparent motive (on Miss Dawson’s death her estate did indeed pass, as she had expected and wished, to her great-niece).

Wimsey sends his private investigator, Miss Katharine Climpson, to the village of Leahampton to investigate. She discovers that shortly before her death Miss Dawson had dismissed her maids, the sisters Bertha and Evelyn Gotobed. Wimsey places advertisements in the press asking them to get in touch. A few days later, Bertha is found dead in Epping Forest. On the body is a £5 banknote, originally issued to a Mrs Muriel Forrest who lives in an elegant flat in South Audley Street, Mayfair. Wimsey and Parker visit her. She claims not to remember the banknote, but thinks she may have put it on a horse. Wimsey tricks her into providing her fingerprints on a wineglass. In a drawer he finds a hypodermic syringe with a doctor’s prescription “to be injected when the pain is very severe”.

Evelyn Gotobed tells Wimsey of an episode shortly before the sisters were dismissed in which Miss Whittaker had tried to get them to witness Miss Dawson’s will, without the latter’s knowledge. A mysterious West Indian clergyman named Hallelujah Dawson had also turned up, claiming to be an impecunious distant relative.

Mrs Forrest asks Wimsey to visit her at her flat in London where she clumsily makes advances to him. Wimsey suspects blackmail. He kisses her and realises that she is physically revolted by his caress.

Wimsey discovers a motive for Miss Dawson to be killed before the end of 1925: a new ‘Property Act’ coming into force on 1 January 1926 will change the law of inheritance, resulting in an intestate’s property no longer passing to a closest-relative great-niece but being forfeit to the Crown. Much play is made of a fictionalised uncertainty in the meaning of the word “issue”.

Mary Whittaker – who Miss Climpson has concluded “is not of the marrying sort” – disappears from Leahampton along with Vera Findlater, an impressionable young woman who is besotted with her. Several days later Miss Findlater’s body is found on the downs, apparently killed by a blow to the head. Mary Whittaker has it seems been kidnapped. There are indications that the culprit is a black man, and a distinctive cap found nearby is linked to Hallelujah Dawson. However, a post-mortem finds that Vera Findlater was already dead when she was struck, and Wimsey realises that the whole scene has been faked in order to frame the entirely innocent clergyman. Tyre tracks from Mrs Forrest’s car are found nearby, and Wimsey suspects her and Mary Whittaker of acting in collusion.

Wimsey’s manservant, Bunter, realises that the fingerprints on Mrs Forrest’s wineglass are identical to those on a cheque written by Miss Whittaker. Wimsey at last understands that Muriel Forrest and Mary Whittaker are one and the same person, and that she carried out the murders by injecting air into her victims’ bloodstream with a hypodermic syringe, causing blockage and immediate death through heart failure. Meanwhile Miss Climpson, unable to contact Wimsey, heads to South Audley Street where she is attacked by Mary Whittaker. Wimsey and Parker arrive just in time to save Miss Climpson from becoming the final victim. Whittaker is arrested, and commits suicide in prison.

My Thoughts:

Much, much, much better than the previous book. No french letters, of any kind! Or any stinking lawyers either!

Of course, Lord Peter screws up and gets a woman killed. Which leads to some serious soul searching on his part. It is easy to forget that Sayers was a lay theologian in her own right but she really delves into some aspects of the moral rights and responsibilities of someone who is not authorized by the Law to investigate crime. Wimsey really shows that he’s not just a bored toff looking for a thrill. He has a sincere desire to see justice done.

It is also interesting to see how crime was investigated about a century ago. The issues they had to deal with (missed communications, travel issues, the press, inter-departmental rivalry, etc) made me realize that while investigation methods might have changed due to technology, people are still exactly the same and act the same then as they did then. As the Teacher of Israel says, there is nothing new under the sun.

With this book, my hope for this series is re-kindled. I tore through it one Saturday too, so I wasn’t dillydallying around.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Wicked Bronze Ambition (Garrett, PI #14) ★★☆☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Wicked Bronze Ambition
Series: Garrett, PI #14
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 438
Words: 127K



Synopsis:

From Kobo.com

Garrett is a human detective in the fantastical city of TunFaire. And now he’s getting tangled up in the worst sort of laws…

In-laws.

Garrett is set to stow his wandering heart with his fiancée, Strafa Algarda. But for Garrett, even true love comes with its share of headaches—namely, the Algarda family.

Strafa’s family needs Garrett’s unique skills in the worst way. Rumors are spreading that someone is organizing a Tournament of Swords—a brutal contest that magically compels the children of sorcerers to battle until only one is left alive. The winner will absorb the power from those he has killed and thus become a demigod.

Strafa and her family want to protect her daughter, Kevans, from being forced to take part in the lethal contest…and they’ve asked Garrett to find out who is organizing the tournament and nip it in the bud. The only problem is that finding the culprit is most likely impossible. But the Algardas are used to getting what they want….

My Thoughts:

This is the final Garrett PI book and I have to admit, it wasn’t good. Garrett’s new almost-wife (they’re going to be married in a week or so) is killed right from the get-go and then is returned/resurrected/whatevered right at the end. I really disliked her being killed, but to have her return was even worse.

Then Garrett is about the stupidest I’ve ever seen him in the series. Cook uses the old “I’m in shock, I’m stressed, I’m excuse, excuse, excuse” but it was total caca. He wrote Garrett dumb and then shut the Deadman out of the picture to make this last longer. Pile on that many other characters DO seem to know what is going on but are not telling Garrett because of “you have to figure it out on your own” caca and you had a LOT of caca in this book.

Everything in this book felt like a whimper instead of bang. A series shouldn’t end like that. Bleh.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey #2) ★★✬☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Clouds of Witness
Series: Lord Peter Wimsey #2
Author: Dorothy Sayers
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 243
Words: 92K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com

Lord Peter Wimsey’s brother, the Duke of Denver, has taken a shooting lodge at Riddlesdale in Yorkshire. At 3 o’clock one morning, Captain Denis Cathcart, the fiancé of Wimsey’s sister Lady Mary, is found shot dead just outside the conservatory. Mary, trying to leave the house at 3 am for a reason she declines to explain, finds Denver kneeling over Cathcart’s body. Suspicion falls on Denver, as the lethal bullet had come from his revolver and he admits having quarrelled with Cathcart earlier, after receiving a letter (which he says has been lost) informing him that Cathcart had been caught cheating at cards. He maintains that he stumbled across the body after returning from a walk on the moors, but will say no more.

Wimsey arrives to investigate, along with his friend Inspector Charles Parker, who will find himself becoming increasingly attracted to Lady Mary throughout the novel. They find a series of unidentified footprints and a discarded jewel in the form of a cat. It is clear that both Denver and Mary are hiding something: Denver refuses to budge from his story that he was simply out for a walk, while Mary is feigning illness to avoid talking to anyone.

Wimsey investigates several false leads. The footprints turn out to be those of Mary’s secret true fiancé, Goyles, a socialist agitator considered ‘an unsuitable match’ by her family. He had crept into the grounds for a pre-arranged rendezvous at 3 am, when the couple had intended to elope. Mary assumed that he was the killer and has been covering for him, but when she learns that he had fled in terror after discovering the body, she breaks off their engagement in disgust at his cowardice.

Wimsey’s investigations lead him to a violent local farmer, Grimethorpe, with a stunningly beautiful wife. Wimsey finds the lost letter that was sent to Denver wedged in the window of the Grimethorpes’ bedroom, proving that Denver had been visiting Mrs Grimethorpe on the night of Cathcart’s death. This is what he has refused to admit, being determined to shield his mistress even at the price of being wrongfully convicted of murder.

Eventually, the jewelled cat leads Wimsey to Cathcart’s mistress of many years, who had left him for an American millionaire. Wimsey travels to New York to find her, makes a daring and dangerous transatlantic flight back to London, and arrives just in time to present his evidence at Denver’s trial in the House of Lords. Wimsey brings a letter that Cathcart had written to his mistress on the night of his death. After hearing that she was leaving him, Cathcart had written back stating his intention to commit suicide. He had then taken Denver’s revolver from the study and gone out into the garden to shoot himself. The confounding factor in the investigation had been the coincidence of Denver returning from Mrs Grimethorpe’s, just in time to find the body, at the same time that Mary had emerged from the house for her rendezvous with Goyles.

Denver is acquitted. As he is leaving the House of Lords, Grimethorpe appears, shoots at him, flees, and is knocked down and killed by a passing taxi. Mrs Grimethorpe, finally free of her husband, declares that she has no interest in continuing her affair with Denver. In the final scene of the book, Inspector Sugg finds Wimsey, Parker, and a friend on the street after midnight, hopelessly drunk, celebrating the end of the case. Sugg assists them into cabs, and reflects, “Thank Gawd there weren’t no witnesses”.

My Thoughts:

This started out so strong. I was highlighting quotes a lot (for me) and the story was moving right along. Lord Peter wasn’t missin’ his “g’s” as much and I was seriously thinking about giving this 4 to 4.5stars.

Then I came to the last 10% of the book. Which is where the trial of Peter’s brother takes place. And everything screeched to a complete halt and bored me to death. Lord Peter isn’t involved. We get pages of the lawyer pretty much summing up the entire book and showing the “jury” (ie, the readers) what really happened. A linchpin of his argument was a letter from the dead man to his mistress. In french. Fething pages of french letter. Sayers does provide an interpretation after the fact, but the original had no place in the novel. I kept hitting the “next page” on my kindle and it kept going and going and going. The lawyer had slowed the pace to frozen molasses but the french letter? It dammed up the flow completely. It was like the Hoover Dam suddenly appeared from out of no where!

Up to that point, I saw why this series is held up as great writing and great story telling. I was enjoying myself immensely. Sadly, the ending killed this book for me. Bleh and poop!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Blood Relation (Arcane Casebook #6) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Blood Relation
Series: Arcane Casebook #6
Author: Dan Willis
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 306
Words: 102.5K



Synopsis:

Alex Lockerby, now working on commission for one of the Great Sorcerers, tries to keep his head in the detective game by doing small jobs here and there. He has also hired a small time rune wright who he is teaching to use the finding rune to find lost objects, thus ensuring a steady trickle of business.

A string of gruesome murders start occurring and Alex is called in, as all of the scenes are covered in what appear to be runes. If they are runes, they are a type that Alex has never seen before, nor has Iggy.

German spies attempt to poison Sorsha and Alex and when that fails, to shoot Alex point blank. Sorsha is guarding a political big wig who is in town on secret business.

Turns out that the blood runes and murders are being committed by a man who was gifted much like Alex but then turned on his mentors and lost the ability to use standard runes. As such, he turned to blood magic to stay young and to build his power. Alex defeats him, but no body is found.

Alex also figures out what the secret project is and has to warn Sorsha to prevent the Germans from stealing a flying bomb and destroying half the city.

In the end, Alex has a talk with Moriarty and realizes that the magic Rune book has another whole level that Iggy never found. This opens Alex up to another level of Rune Wright’ery and shows him just how small the knowledge he has is.

My Thoughts:

Once again, I enjoyed myself immensely while reading this. This time around, the two biggest things I enjoyed was the pace wasn’t as frenetic as before (Alex isn’t investigating 7 cases all at once) and the Power Creep slowed down.

Having a Rune Wright be one of the main villains this time around was also refreshing. He shows Alex that magic or even runes, aren’t a monolithic entity, but a fractured puzzle that can be put together in almost infinite number of ways. This has the side effect of allowing Alex to be on a bit more of an equal footing with the likes of Sorsha, his sorceress on again off again girlfriend.

I think my only real issue is how Willis creates characters only to not use them as much as they could be. Danny Pak is the perfect example. He started out as bosom buddies with Alex but he barely gets a mention now. I’m afraid Alex is entering into the “Only I can do anything” zone. I guess I’d like to see more of the side characters fleshed out beyond a name and a function.

Other than that, this review really suffers from “I Like This” syndrome. This was another great book in the series and I enjoyed it. I just can’t muster up much to talk about it. I’m sure you can relate. Willis has been writing this series pretty hard and I am impressed that he’s keeping the quality to what it is. I am looking forward to the next book and we’ll see what the world brings into Alex Lockerby’s life next.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Gilded Latten Bones (Garrett, PI #13) ★★★☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot ,Librarything & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Gilded Latten Bones
Series: Garrett, PI #13
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 348
Words: 101K



Synopsis:

Garrett’s taking a stab at domestic bliss with the fiery Tinnie Tate, who tells him just how high to jump. He’s even sworn off his investigations, causing the criminal element no end of joy. Then he waylays a pair of home intruders in the middle of the night and learns they’ve been paid to kidnap Tinnie. But even they are not quite sure who hired them.

Not many in TunFaire have the brawn — or lack of brains — to tangle with the Tate clan., But as Garrett rushes to find out who is suffering from a deadly attack of hubris, he learns he’s not the only one with unwanted callers: His best friend, Morley Dotes — a half elf of stunning good looks and dubious moral fiber — has been attacked and left for dead. Now Garrett has to track down both malefactors.

Unless they’re really one and the same — in which case Garrett might be next.

Turns out Morley saw the Royal Carriage where he shouldn’t, at a completely evil necromancer’s place and the King was the customer. With pressure from Tinnie to stay out of it, to a royal decree by Prince Rupert to stay out of it and all of his friends telling him to stay out of it, Garrett stays out of it.

Yeah. He nurses Morley back to health, is the mastermind at the hub of a ring of informants (because the Deadman is pretty much out of commission by a confrontation with the evil necromancers) and defies both Law, King and the Criminal Queen to get to the bottom of it all.

In the end, Tinnie leaves Garrett because she can’t stand sharing him with his friends or his job and Garrett wastes no time jumping in bed with one of the Sorceress’s from the Hill. Garrett also realizes that he isn’t the “beat” detective he used to be and his actions affect a whole slew of people, so no hairing off to get clubbed on the head just for the heck of it.

My Thoughts:

I actually enjoyed this for the most part. Except for 2 parts. First, Garrett is as big a lech as ever and I’m not even referring to the Sorceress, but almost every other lady. Second, Tinnie and Garrett’s breakup just rang of Cook wanting to try something new and making each of them behave in ways that simply don’t fit with how they’ve acted previously. Sure, Tinnie is bossie and Garrett has known her all his life, but that’s not enough of a reason for them to simply call it quits. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of the last season of the tv show “Frasier”. Frasier, the main character, has been searching for a romantic partner since the beginning of the show and suddenly in the last season, she appears and is shoe-horned into the story. That’s how this felt. Not natural but shoe-horned.

Other than those 2 items, this was as confusing as ever 😀 I had no idea who the bad guys where, what they wanted, why they were doing what they were or why they even existed. Thankfully, I’m an old hand at this kind of read and simply sat back and let the author reveal things when he thought it was time, even if it was stupid.

Garrett has become a powerful enough entity in Tun Faire that he essentially can tell the Crown Prince to shove it and the Crown Prince can’t do much. Garrett is connected with powerful people, on all sides of the legal spectrum and he’s not afraid to use those connections.

With only one more book to go, we’ll have to see how Cook wraps things up. The Deadman obviously has to leave, Garrett doesn’t need him anymore but I don’t see where he’ll go. Garrett is going to hook up with Miss Sorceress and the money will keep rolling in from his investments managed by the rat girl. Everything is going to get wrapped up, I just hope it’s not too quick a wrap up like the change in this book between Garrett and Tinnie.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Whose Body? (Lord Peter Wimsey #1) ★★★☆☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Whose Body?
Series: Lord Peter Wimsey #1
Author: Dorothy Sayers
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 164
Words: 64K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com

Thipps, an architect, finds a dead body wearing nothing but a pair of pince-nez in the bath of his London flat. Lord Peter Wimsey—a nobleman who has recently developed an interest in criminal investigation as a hobby—resolves to investigate the matter privately. Leading the official investigation is Inspector Sugg, who suggests that the body may be that of the famous financier Sir Reuben Levy, who disappeared from his bedroom in mysterious circumstances the night before. Sir Reuben’s disappearance is in the hands of Inspector Charles Parker, a friend of Wimsey’s. Although the body in the bath superficially resembles that of Sir Reuben, it quickly becomes clear that it is not him, and it appears that the cases may be unconnected. Wimsey joins Parker in his investigation.

Thipps’s flat is near a teaching hospital, and Wimsey considers the possibility that the unexpected appearance of a body may have been the result of a joke perpetrated by one of the medical students. However, that is excluded by evidence given at the inquest by the respected surgeon and neurologist Sir Julian Freke, who states that there was no subject missing from his dissecting room.

A prostitute’s chance encounter with Levy on the night of his disappearance, on the road leading to the hospital and to Sir Julian Freke’s house next door, provides Wimsey with the clue that allows him to link the two cases. Freke maintains that he was discreetly being consulted by Levy about a medical problem, and that Levy left at about 10pm. Freke’s manservant reports that Freke was inexplicably taking a bath at about 3 o’clock the following morning, judging from the noise of the cistern.

Wimsey ultimately discovers that Freke murdered Sir Reuben after luring him to his house with the promise of some inside financial information. Freke smuggled the body out onto the roof under cover of the cistern noise, took it into the hospital, and substituted it for that of a pauper who had been donated for dissection by the local workhouse. He then visited Sir Reuben’s home to stage his disappearance, returned, carried the pauper’s body over the flat roofs of the nearby houses and placed it in Thipps’ bath, entering via a bathroom window that had been left open. As a joke, he added a pair of pince-nez that had by chance come into his possession. Returning to the hospital, he prepared Sir Reuben’s body for dissection, giving it to his medical students for that purpose the next day.

Freke unsuccessfully attempts to murder both Parker and Wimsey. When it becomes clear that his actions have been discovered, he prepares a written confession of his long-held desire for revenge: many years earlier, he hoped to marry the woman who later became Lady Levy, but she chose Sir Reuben in preference to him. He also intended to substantiate his own theory of mind, in which conscience, a sense of responsibility and so on are merely “surface symptoms” which arise from physical irritation or damage to the tissues of the brain. As he completes the confession the police arrive to arrest him, preventing his suicide just in time.

My Thoughts:

Back at the tail end of 2018, I wrapped up my read of the Brother Cadfael series, a Medieval Mystery series that I enjoyed for the most part. Since then, outside of my one attempt to read PD James’ Adam Dalgiesh mysteries, my mystery reading has consisted of the Arcane Casebook series and Garrett, PI, both of which are as much fantasy as mystery. Dalgliesh (and James) horrified me with its tawdry revoltingness, Arcane Casebook I’m up to date on and waiting for the next book and the end of Garrett PI is soon approaching. I was therefore on the lookout for another pure mystery series I could get into. I did consider Sherlock Holmes, especially after Savage Dave’s excellent read through semi-recently, but for some reason it just didn’t grab me; maybe because I’m already re-reading so much and wanted something completely new? I don’t know, but Sherlock was out.

Somehow or other, I came across some references to Lord Peter Wimsey. There are a couple of ladies I follow who are into Mysteries and Golden Age stuff (namely, Themis, Brokentune and MurderbyDeath), so I’m sure it was one of them. For all I know it might have even been some offhand reference in the comments. I wish I could track it down. Needless to say, I have started this series and with a 3star start, it is looking quite promising.

This did not feel like a first in a series kind of novel. It is obvious that most of the characters have prior history with each other and Sayers’ doles out the hints like she was a true New England Yankee (ie, miser). But the first it is and you just have to suck it up and soldier on.

Peter is Bertie Wooster, except smart. He even has a butler who is quite competent. Bunter the Butler. Say that 5 times fast. If Jeeves wasn’t quite so smart and had been a sergeant in the British Army, then he’d be Bunter. Peter Wimsey, who I shall try to refer to simply as Wimsey in the rest of my reviews, is obviously suffering from shell shock and nerves and Sayers makes the most out of by making her detective character have a bit of weakness and humanity. He’s no Sherlock Holmes able to bend steel pokers. There’s one scene where Wimsey is having flashback nightmares to the Great War and Bunter has to talk him down. It was refreshing and distracting because it was so out of the ordinary for a mystery novel in my opinion. Does mean that Wimsey has great potential as a character.

The biggest reason this is gettin’ just 3 stars instead of more is because of Sayers makin’ Wimsey, and his older brother the Duke, drop their “g”s when talkin’. Very distractin’ don’t you know, especially when it is ongoin’ for the whole book. It bugged the everlivin’ daylights out of me and I’m really hopin’ Sayers tones it down in later books. Just sayin’…..

★★★☆☆

Rating: 3 out of 5.

ps,
which do you like better? The first row of stars or the second?
Personally, I like the second, but the problem is that I can’t copy/paste it into the title bar. Having my star rating visually in the title of my post is now part of my mystique. No way I’m changing that!

Cruel Zinc Melodies (Garrett, PI #12) ★★★☆½


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Cruel Zinc Melodies
Series: Garrett, PI #12
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 407
Words: 118K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

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.

My Thoughts:

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.

★★★☆½

Whispering Nickel Idols (Garrett, PI # 11) ★★★☆½

whisperingnickelidols (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Whispering Nickel Idols
Series: Garrett, PI # 11
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 311
Words: 90K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.com

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.

My Thoughts:

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.

★★★☆½

A Werewolf Among Us ★★★☆☆

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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: A Werewolf Among Us
Series: ———-
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Mystery
Pages: 211
Words: 53K

Synopsis:

Baker St Cyr is a detective, a Cyber-Detective! He can plug a portable computer into his chest and have it integrate within himself, thus giving him an edge of logic that most humans don’t have. It also nags him about his dreams, dampens his emotions and can affect his actions.

St Cyr is hired by an extremely rich man on a pleasure world to find out who killed some of his family. With no clues whatsoever, the local constabulary are baffled. Several more murders occur while St Cyr is there and an attempt is made on his life. All clues point to a local animal that supposedly can turn humans into werewolves. St Cyr must also battle the deadening of his emotions and the awakening of said emotions when he falls in love with his client’s daughter.

In the end, St Cyr figures out that the “butler” did it, is prevented from destroying said robot by his own cyber-unit (because it isn’t logical as all robots must adhere to the 3 Laws) and almost dies. The love interest saves the day, saves St Cyr from himself and saves herself from a stifling family relationship.

My Thoughts:

Koontz turns his hand to future murder mystery with rather predictable results. Just looking at the cover should tell you who the murderer is. As soon as the main character noticed that the robot butler went around on an anti-grav plate, I knew it was the robot. There was no mystery. It would have been cooler if there HAD been a werewolf.

The main reason I knocked off some stars is because of the final fight scene. St Cyr refuses to accept that his cyber-unit is deliberately affecting him by not allowing him to shoot the killer robot, that is trying to kill everyone right then, right there in full view. So he wastes half the fight trying to shoot down Robo-Butler and missing, while his love interest is screaming at him to throw the gun to her so she can turn Robo-Butler into Robo-Scrapmetal. He ignores her until it is almost too late. That isn’t logic but plain stupidity.

The overall story was a fun little tale, even while being completely predictable. I’d probably have notched it up to a 3 ½ star rating if it weren’t for St Cyr acting like a complete idiot in the fight.

Well, another old Koontz under my belt (I believe this was published in 1973?).

★★★☆☆

Limelight (Arcane Casebook #5) ★★★★☆

limelightThis review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Limelight
Series: Arcane Casebook #5
Author: Dan Willis
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 319
Words: 106.5K

 

Synopsis:

Alex Lockerby is doing well. Business is booming, his clientelle are a lot richer and even the police are giving him a modicum of respect (of course, that might have more to do with Alex being on a first name basis with several of the Sorcerer Six).

A Murder Mystery author dies and Alex’s mentor wants him to investigate as he believes it was murder. This leads into Alex investigating an old case from over 10 years ago about a beautiful stage actress who died on stage but no one was ever convicted. Alex gets his friend Danny Pak assigned to the case, with an understanding from the Captain that if Danny can solve this case, he’ll be promoted to Captain himself. As long as Alex stays in the background.

At the same time, Alex gets dragged into another police case, where Rune Wrights are apparently using runes to blow holes in walls and rob bank vaults. From all that Alex knows, this is impossible. But if something IS happening, then it isn’t impossible and it’s up to Alex as the cities top Rune Wright to figure out what is going on.

Then some inexplicable deaths start happening throughout the city, all of them magic related. In each case, it would appear that the victim had no magical power but died from using magic that went out of control. Alex teams up with Sorsha Kincaid and tracks it down to a substance called Limelight, which seems to give non-magic users magic and to enhance those with the ability already.

And if that is not enough, Alex still has to worry about his new secretary. What is her agenda and is she working for Moriarty, Legion or some other unknown?

If that isn’t enough, by the end of the book we find out another Rune Wright has figured out how to turn electricity into magical power. He’s also figured out how to transfer said power to himself. With the city’s generators at his power, he can become the most powerful Sorcerer the world has ever known.

In the end Danny solves his case, Limelight ties together Alex’s cases, the mad Rune Wright is stopped and the secretary is revealed to be a 3000 year old high priestess. Oh, and Alex is prophecied to be the greatest Rune Wright to ever have lived and possibly be King of All Magic.

 

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this story so while my review might be a tad more critical than the previous Arcane Casebook reviews, please do keep that in mind.

First concern is that Alex is exactly the same as he was in the first book. Now, that could very well be deliberate, as that can be a character type (look at most of the old school noir detectives and even a character like Garrett that Glen Cook writes). Depending on your taste, this will be a bigger or smaller thing. For me, it was a small thing but noticeable. I think I noticed it more because we’re up to book 5?

Secondly, the ramping up of threats and potential. The threat was seriously ramped up in the previous book when Moriarty reveals that another World War is coming and that groups like Legion are already preparing for it. Here, Alex’s potential as The King of Games, errrrr, I mean, Master of Magic is revealed. kingofgames I can’t articulate why this kind of thing is a burr under my saddle but power creep definitely bothers me. Personally, I’d rather Alex have stayed a lower powered Rune Wright and for the author to tell more detective stories than for this world threat to happen.

I do enjoy the mysteries. It is just fun to watch the twists and turns and little sidesteps that happen. I must admit that it is exhausting to keep 3 to 5 different balls in the air and usually by the end of the book I’m ready for some of the special coffee that Alex drinks so much of.

The cover continues to be as fantastic as ever. This time I looked and it is done by someone named Mihaela Voicu. She appears to be a digital artist and I found a bit of her stuff on her facebook page. Probably going to be a shoe-in for July’s Cover Love.

Still highly recommend this series if you feel in the need for a dose of Noir’ish Urban Fantasy Mystery! 😀

★★★★☆

 

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