As a lover of fantasy and detectives I’ve long had Glen Cook’s Garrett Files on my TBR. This review is for the first in the series, but I expect to read through it this year.
What to Expect
A private detective of sorts, set in an interesting fantasy world. The tone isn’t quite a noir gumshoe, a bit more of an adventurous thriller, but fits quite comfortably with genre tropes. The setting has the usual fantasy tropes of not-really medieval urban scenes, but interesting takes on races and mixed-race society. Cook certainly gives the impression of depth without going into too many details.
The plot is very fast paced as Garrett crams a fair bit of action and travel in his attempts to locate a missing heiress to a huge fortune. Told in first-person POV, this reads like a tight, classic, fantasy/PI blend.
What I liked
I enjoyed the world-building. I do wish there were more details, as Cook gives tantalising glimpses. On the other hand, one also appreciates the clipped style that explains just enough and doesn’t bog the reader with slow expositions. Garrett himself is the classic such adventurer: ex-military, does the odd PI jobs, mixes with the wrong crowd, and has his inner code to push him forward.
What to be aware of
In speaking of fantasy and PI tropes, Cook has also picked up some of the less savoury ones. Most characters other than Garrett are a bit flat, and this is very noticeable with the women. The story and protagonist can get downright chauvinistic at times. This is definitely a book you read for the thrill of adventure, not of the inter-character relationships or a modern take on gender roles.
Felix thought Garrett had potential, if he only stopped to think some times. He seems to rush headlong into action and trouble — which he handles admirably, Felix admitted — but where a bit more caution and forethought might be warranted. When I pointed all the times Felix told me he relied on his own luck, he said, “yes, well, it’s a lot easier reading about it then being in the midst of action.” Some characters just have a tendency to talk back.
That said, Felix did enjoy the adventures, despite the world being low on magic as he understands it, so will be following his next adventures with interest.
Take this story for what it is. It’s a fun adventure set in an intriguing world, a very much “guy”-type action novel. If you like classic detectives and tight fantasy, this should be on your reading list.
Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He’s the protagonist of the Togas, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome. Come meet him on the free short stories and novels!