Cruel Zinc Melodies — Glen Cook
About halfway thorough Cook's latest Garrett, P.I., novel, I began to wonder if Cook had read any of debg's Haunted Ballad series. Garrett is called on by old friend and client Max Weider to look into some strange goings on at a theatre he's building in Tun Faire. What Garrett finds are gang activity, giant bugs, and ghosts. The gangs and the bugs turns out to be fairly straight forward problems, apart from some complications in the form of some sorcerers from The Hill (in a subplot that is right out of Chinatown), but the ghosts are different. For one thing, there's strange, not quite right music heard when they appear. For another, non-humans don't see them. The humans who do see them have very differing reactions. All see persons from their past, although not all the spectres are of dead people. Some are fearful, while others are embraced by those who see them. So Garrett has to figure out what's producing the ghosts, and how to stop it.
This is the best Garrett since Old Tin Sorrows, and in a way it finally gives that book, if not a happy ending, a more comforting one. Meanwhile, a lot of threads that have been running through the last few books are coming together here. Having what seems like every character Garrett has ever met show up in this book started to annoy me a bit along the way, but on the other hand, a lot of those characters are showing remarkable growth. Singe becomes more adept with every book, but even Saucerhead Tharpe is shown as someone more than merely hired muscle. And in an even more astonishing turn of events, both Garrett and Tinnie have both come to the realization that after years of bantering, it may finally be time to start dealing with their relationship in a somewhat more mature fashion.
Garrett's actions throughout the novel are those of someone who is finally confident in his own skills as both a leader and a person. Things still go to hell in a hand basket time and again as they always do whenever he takes on a job, but rather than attacking them in whack-a-mole fashion as he has in the past, he just handles them as they come, delegating whenever possible. One sign of this is that for once it's Garrett that gets get Morley out of a tight spot, rather than the other way around. Another is that it's Garrett, rather than the Dead Man, who figures out ultimately how to handle the problem of the ghosts. Good stuff.