Warning: if you’re in the early books still, there WILL be spoilers.
Garrett P. I. is a series of fantasy novels by American writer Glen Cook (author of The Black Company series, among many others) following the titular No-first-name-given Garrett, his lecherous friend Morley, his know-it-all roommate the Dead Man, his girlfriend Tinnie Tate, and several other reoccurring characters who show up to annoy him and kick off the plot.
Garrett is a private detective in what is essentially a fantasy counterpart culture to St. Louis. With his motley crew of friends he solves any mystery someone is willing to pay him to solve.
It's a lot better than it sounds.
Garrett and company face everything from cults trying to resurrect a dead god of evil, the mafia, ghosts, a war between pantheons, space aliens, giant bugs, fungus dragons, and Cthulu. (Plus a whole lot more I can't recall off the top of my head.)
Since actually nail down the plot of each book would require someone with more patience and insight than I, I instead offer you a quick character rundown.
The titular Garrett is the snarky first person narrator.
His backstory is that he served in his war-torn country's military for the mandatory five years as a marine, most of it spent in a swamp. He does not like horses.
While his house mate the Dead Man is dead, he’s not a man. He’s a loghyr, a several hundred pound elephant nosed thing that died a few hundred years ago whose spirit is still sticking around to annoy Garrett and entertain itself by solving mysteries. He has several minds, all of which he insists are smarter than Garrett and any of the other puny mortals he has to deal with. Within a several block radius of his body, he’s also telepathic, telekinetic, and can control people’s minds, something he claims not to do all the time out of a sense of privacy (in reality, though, he just doesn’t because he’s lazy). His favorite past times include sleeping, reenacting historic wars with a bunch of mind controlled bugs, and bothering Garrett.
- Morley Dotes is Garrett’s best friend. He’s also a lecherous half-dark-elf, an assassin, and a vegetarian restaurateur. Originally, his place, (called the Joy House in earlier books, renamed the Palms) started off as a cover for his more dubious endeavors and a place where the city's underworld could gather without fear of being arrested, and where Garrett could score a free meal. In the later books, however, he's taken his legitimate role more seriously to the point where his place is now a high class, well respected and highly successful vegetarian restaurant for the wealthy. He's still a ruthless assassin, though, health obsession aside.
- Dean Creech is Garrett's elderly housekeeper. Though he supposedly does a good job of cleaning the house, as far as the readers are concerned, his purpose seems to be snarking about Garrett's love of the sauce, his trials in love, and his lack of what Dean considers to be a real job. He has several nieces living with him who all have nice personalities. In earlier books, Dean was intent on marrying one of them off to Garrett (killing two birds with one stone), but has since given up.
- Playmate is Garrett’s other best friend, and a hell of a lot nicer than Morley. He runs a stable and is always ready to help Garrett out when he needs it.
- Tinnie is a stereotypical fiery redhead from the wealthy Tate family. She starts off as Garrett's on-again off-again girlfriend and later allows him to become her fiancée.
- Chodo Contague is basically every stereotypical mafia don you've ever heard about, read about, watched on TV, or owed money to. Due to circumstances in earlier books (including Garrett saving his life, and Morley killing his predecessor, allowing him to take over), he feels like he owes Garret, which drives the latter batty because Chodo is the kind of person you don’t want anywhere near you, friendly or not. His oldest daughter, Belinda Contague, has a crush on Garrett and is part of the unofficial plot-kicker squad. His two bodyguards Crask and Sadler are expert killers, great at tracking people, and enjoy picking on Garrett, providing this incredibly creepy line:
*After Sadler sneaks up behind Garrett*
Garrett: Why do you do that?
Sadler: I like the squeaking noise you make when you’re scared.
- Deal Relway started off as a watchman Garret got saddled with working with once. By the time the later books roll around, Relway has managed to start off a secret police, has ensured that TunFaire (that’s the city’s name, didn’t I mention?) is stuffed to the brim with law and order, has become a figure of semi-mythic proportions among the Tunfaire underground, and has Garrett very concerned. Deal finds the best way to eliminate crime is to eliminate criminals, and he considers a criminal to be anyone who happens to get in his way. Garrett is one of the few –very few- people who knows what he actually looks like.
The newest major cast member is a ratgirl named Pular Singe. She’s smarter than most rat people (putting her at a high-mid human intelligence) and the best tracker in the city. She also has a huge crush on Garrett, which is problematic since she’s his housemate and new business partner.
There are a lot more characters than that, but that’s all I’m listing for now.
There are (as of this writing) thirteen books, each following an adjective–metal-noun formulaic title.
1. Sweet Silver Blues
2. Bitter Gold Hearts
3. Cold Copper Tears
4. Old Tin Sorrows
5. Dread Brass Shadows
6. Red Iron Nights
7. Deadly Quicksilver Lies
8. Petty Pewter Gods
9. Faded Steel Heat
10. Angry Lead Skies
11. Whispering Nickel Idols
12. Cruel Zinc Melodies
13. Gilded Lateen Bones
They are all awesome.
The series as a whole is good if you like light, funny, occasionally thoughtful but mostly action-y stories. There are a couple tearjerkers (Elenor’s painting comes to mind), but mostly the series doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Does that make it any less entertaining?