Review: Sweet Silver Blues by Glen Cook
Glen Cook first came on my radar via Night Shade Books. I had a notion that he’d written serious fantasy and at least one science fiction book. One of the comments on my speculative fiction and noir post pointed me to his Garret PI novels, the first of which is Sweet Silver Blues. The series has grown to include 12 books. Cruel Zinc Melodies is the most recent.
Sweet Silver Blues is a straightforward first person linear narrative. The point of view character, is Garret, an ex-marine private investigator. The story is a mixture of noir and fantasy. For the noir elements we have the hardboiled protagonist, crime lords, hired muscle, gambling, blackmail, and plenty of other shadow activities on the wrong side of the law. For the fantasy elements we have elves, unicorns, vampires, centaurs, other creatures and a sprinkling of magic. The world established is one of wizzards and warring kingdoms, yet both of those elements largely remain just over the horizon.
I’m fascinated by this book because it takes so many familiar elements, tweaks them, and describes the whole thing with a stark matter of fact tone. There’s constant friendly banter about food, beer and women amongst the traveling companions. The fantasy quest to save the damsel in distress from the clutches of a nebulous evil dovetails nicely with the investigation of a rather convoluted espionage ring. The story is humorous without resorting to too much outright silliness. The mystery is mess and seems to be solved mostly by attrition, but the resulting tour of the underbelly of a fantasy realm is ultimately satisfying.
As far as I can tell, this is one of Cook’s first books and as such, it offers enough to entice me to check out his more serious Black Company series. I’d be very interested to hear comments from anyone who has read a significant portion of Cook’s work.
Turns out my TagShadow Prototype has a few Gleen Cook related tagshadows: