Review a Book Badly: Cruel Zinc Melodies

Ghosts are the least of the theatre’s problem and the gumshoe learns not to trade coats with princes.

 

Cruel Zinc Melodies is the twelfth novel in Glen Cook’s fantasy noir Garrett, P.I. series, but the mysteries and plot twists are still new and unpredictable. Except maybe once – but for the twelfth book in a mystery series to only have one (minor) revelation be a bit obvious (when readers have had eleven books to get used to how the author plots) is quite impressive. Far too many, otherwise good, series become unintentional cookie cutters because the authors continually reuse the same ideas, motivations, twists, and crimes …which tends to result in their detectives always being followed around by, and conveniently solving, murders. (#jessicafletcherserialkiller)

In this case, Garrett is dealing with a comparatively low body count (which he doubtless prefers to some of his previous and more fist-fight-y lethal adventures) and the threat is subtle, but the mysteries are no less intriguing that his usual fare (and that means they’re very intriguing).

This time Garrett investigating the ghost sightings that are scaring off construction workers in Max Weider’s (his part time employer sort of friend beer magnate) new theatre: The World. Or, rather what would be TunFaire city’s biggest theatre ever, if the ghosts weren’t constantly scaring off the construction crews. But it’s not the ghosts that are the theatre’s biggest problem. And no, it’s not the giant, magically enhanced bugs, or the interference of the terrifying magicians from the wealthiest suburb of the city, or the political backroom games being played by Relway of the secret police and Prince Rupert (I was serious about Garrett swapping coats to his regret) either. It’s something that can even scare them.

The book has a few little nit-picky problems: such as the over competence shown by one character who does not even appear on page – although this is mitigated by the fact that Garrett himself finds her competence very annoying. Likewise, several incidents from the previous book which probably should have had major ramifications appear to have been forgotten. In this book that isn’t much of a problem, although you are left wondering why the Mob Boss isn’t unhappy about being slapped with a mood adjuster last time – which in this book is NEVER mentioned.

Nevertheless, the characters – and their growth over the continuing arc of the series – are deep and believable, the mysteries – and there are several – interconnect in helpfully confusing and deeply amusing ways, the setting is as rich as ever and, despite the low- key action and comparatively gentle pace, it does not pull its punches with the feels at the end.

All in all, a reasonably good book. I honestly wish it had been the last in the series, both because it was a good enough Garrett mystery itself and because the ending just tears your heart into pieces and then gives them back rearranged into a Valentine’s card. Although I must admit the “cruel” part of the title still baffles me.

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