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Not All the Lights in the Skies are Stars
on May 11, 2002
Set in TunFaire, a city that was corrupt before dinosaurs ever learned to count, P.I. Garrett's adventures among the magical, the crooked, and the nasty (often at the same time) have been entertaining readers since 1997. TunFaire is the gem of the Karentine, a city where magic is generally bad news, racial violence between species is a commonplace, and you can find or buy anything if you have the wherewithal to acquire it. There Garrett has set up shop with his partner, the Dead Man - who is a Loghyr (think 500 pound telepathic elephant) who has been dead for 400 years and alternates between messing with Garrett's mind and taking naps.
Garrett does not lack for friends, if friends are what you would call them. There's Morley the full time restaurateur and part time crook, Saucerhead Tharpe, Dojango, Martha and Doris (the last three are all guys... guy grolls, that is). Then there in Playmate, a ministerial blacksmith who gets people like Garrett involved in plots like the one in 'Angry Lead Skies.' Ostensibly, Playmate wants Garrett to keep an eye on young Kip Prose, who has suddenly developed the ability to invent things. Things like tricycles, lead pencils, and weird gadgets with gears. It seems like Kip has befriended some strange silver elves and, suddenly, his head is full of ideas.
It doesn't take Garret too long to find out that the strange silver elves and the saucers and lights whizzing around the TunFaire skies are somehow related. And that too many people are interested in Kip's sudden rush of inventiveness. Soon Gerrett is neck deep in a chase that seems guaranteed to get him knocked out every four hours. Soon, the attention of TunFaire's regular cast of politicians and wizards turns to Garret's antics, and to the ever-increasing numbers of a new kind of elf that shoots back with a vengeance. The P.I. finds that there is always somebody spying on him, visible, invisible, parrot or pixie.
The good side of the case is that Garrett finds himself surrounded by the kind of women he likes best. Possessive and adorable. There are his regular ladies, Tinny, Alyx, and Katie. Then his new partner is the rat woman Singe, who can out track everyone else, and think circles around most of what TunFaire considers human. Rat people are on the bottom of the social scale in TunFaire, but Singe is well on her way to prove that there is much more to the story of the Rat people than most are willing to admit.
And so, once again, Glen Cook has managed to write a science fiction story from the viewpoint of those that live in a fantasy world, begging the question of what is magic, and what is not. He takes this heady concoction and turns it into the kind of tough guy mystery tale which would appeal in whatever setting it found itself. With titles that mimic John D. MacDonald. All of Cook's stories in this series combine a sarcastic sense of humor with a slightly bent set of morals (on everyone's part). But, mixed in are reflections of current events in our own world. Garrett's occasional reminiscences of the Tarantine war carry echoes of Cook's Black Company books, and of the Viet Nam conflict that lies behind both of the fantasy conflicts. This ability to write in layers is what makes Glen Cook a remarkable author who never fails to give a reader pleasure.