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Literature: Garrett, P.I.
Garrett, P.I. is a long-running fantasy noir series by Glen Cook. A Low Fantasy story set in a High Fantasy world, more specifically a fantasy counterpart of St. Louis populated by pretty much every fantasy creature ever conceived, the series follows the eponymous private investigator through his Chandleresque adventures.

It also has elements of Nero Wolfe — after providing all the leg work and investigating, Garrett will sometimes call upon his immobile, dead-yet-dreaming partner, a Loghyr. The telepathic Dead Man, as Garrett calls him, will often deduce a possible solution to the mystery.

The character is named after author Randall Garrett, whose Lord Darcy series was one of the first to place a detective in a fantasy setting. The series has also been compared to (and may have partially inspired) The Dresden Files as its opposite. Instead of a wizard using magic to investigate and solve crimes in our own world, Garrett is instead a fairly "traditional" detective in a fantasy world who uses real-world (and fairly mundane) techniques to unravel his mysteries.


    Novels in this series 
  • Sweet Silver Blues (1987).
  • Bitter Gold Hearts (1988).
  • Cold Copper Tears (1988).
  • Old Tin Sorrows (1989).
  • Dread Brass Shadows (1990).
  • Red Iron Nights (1991).
  • Deadly Quicksilver Lies (1994).
  • Petty Pewter Gods (1995).
  • Faded Steel Heat (1999).
  • Angry Lead Skies (2002).
  • Whispering Nickel Idols (2005).
  • Cruel Zinc Melodies (2008).
  • Gilded Latten Bones (2010).
  • Wicked Bronze Ambition (2013)

Garret has also appeared in The Shadow Thieves, a short story published in 2011's urban fantasy collection Down These Strange Streets, and "an investigator from TunFaire" was mentioned in The Dreamland Chronicles by Wm Mark Simmons.

Garrett P.I. has examples of:

  • Accidental Proposal: When Garrett and Tinnie encounter a powerful sorceress, he's worried the woman's flirty mannerisms will provoke Tinnie into a faux pas that will get them both blasted. He introduces Tinnie as his fiancee purely to defuse the situation, only to have her hold him to it and demand a ring a few pages later.
  • Aerith and Bob: Names like Willard Tate, Max Weider, and Fred Blaine (the real name of a powerful sorcerer) side by side with Strafa Algardo (the real name of a powerful sorceress), Chodo Contague, Bic Gonlit, and many others.
  • Alien Abduction: This is how the Goddamn Parrot was Put on a Bus, to Garrett's immense relief.
  • Alliterative Family: Max Weider named his sons Tad, Tom, and Ty. Averted with his daughters, Alex and Kittyjo.
  • Alliterative Name: Tinnie Tate, Zeck Zack, Bittegurn Brittigarn. Lampshaded with Quincey Quentin Q. Quintillas's street-name of "Quince Quefour".
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: The Faction think of their sorcerer parents this way, unlike the rest of the characters who are flat-out terrified of them.
  • And I Must Scream: The living nightmare which the Dead Man finds in stroke-impaired Chodo Contague's head.
  • Angrish: Bound to happen when someone gets frustrated and/or bopped on the head as often as Garrett.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Eleanor's painting, though Garrett's the only one who can see it.
  • Anything That Moves: Morley. Garrett too, to an extent.
  • Anti-Climax: What do Garrett and Co do when faced with an insane, incredibly powerful Loghyr? Slowly introduce thousands of hungry rats and insects into its private island to gobble it up. What does Garrett do when he comes into possession of a key that can open the otherworldly gateway and let out a god of evil? Chop it up and sell it for scrap.
    • Given that one of Garrett's main motivations is maintaining his own comfortable little status quo these incredibly lazy solutions are very much in-character.
    • The resolution of the first dilemma listed is also Fridge Brilliance, as it's the one means of eliminating a dead Loghyr which his enemies are unlikely to be able to direct against the Dead Man, who has Garrett on hand to protect him from bugs.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The cult of the Devastator aims to release a world-destroying dark god from its prison. Lampshaded and deconstructed by the Dead Man, who points out that, subconsciously, the cultists don't really want to end the world, they're just morbid and petty enough to get a charge out of thinking they can.
  • Artifact of Death: The coach used by the killer in Red Iron Nights has acquired this reputation among the coachmakers, although it could be a coincidence that so many people connected with it have met a sticky end.
  • Attention Deficit Oh Shiny: Garrett has real trouble focusing on the task at hand in Wicked Bronze Ambition. Excusable because his bride-to-be was just killed and he's biting back grief to try and solve her murder.
  • Author Tract Cook's views on organized religion are made very clear throughout the series, much as they are in The Black Company.
    • In most of the books, Garrett has a live-and-let-live attitude toward the various churches. He's not religious himself, but he respects the beliefs of people who are (his friend Playmate, for instance), and he doesn't consider them any more corrupt than the other powerful entities of Tun Faire. In Petty Pewter Gods, however, the anvil comes out a bit.
    • Garrett's real problem with religion is that all to often the people at the top are using it solely to exploit the people at the bottom. The exact same problem he has with the royalty and the Sorcerers on The Hill.
  • Ax-Crazy: Quite a few Big Bads fall into this once the jig is up.
  • Badass Bookworm: Believe it or not, Garrett. Not only can he read and write in a world where literacy is a hot commodity, but the Dead Man's room houses a treasure trove of books (being dead he can' really read, so who are they really for?). He's frequented the local library enough to finish a long trilogy of psuedo-history books and Deadly Quicksilver Lies opens with him in his office reading a philosophy book for pleasure. That being said, he does try to downplay his hobby to the reader.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Morley's Joy House is a Bad Guy Restaurant, which ironically doesn't serve alcohol.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: How Garrett escapes from a locked stable that's on fire.
  • Battle Butler: Mashego, Shadowslinger's servant. She doesn't survive, but she takes four enemies with her and wounds so many of the rest that they're in no shape to offer any resistance when Garrett and his allies track them down.
  • Berserk Button: Slither's "powziffle pheez". An invoked example, as Garrett deduces that a sorcerer messed with Slither's head to make him that way during the war.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Playmate.
    • In Dread Brass Shadows, Willard Tate.
  • Bewitched Amphibians: Garrett mentions this possibility to discourage Morley from making a pass at Furious Tide of Light.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Cruel Zinc Melodies. Garrett's less-than-fond memories of the islands often include references to these too, albeit probably exaggerated.
    • Also, one of the eight-limbed manifestations from Cold Copper Tears took the form of a giant spider.
    • The "little booger" from Deadly Quicksilver Lies isn't all that big, but it does enough damage for a whole swarm of Big Creepy-Crawlies.
    • Tara Chayne from Wicked Bronze Ambition conjures a pitch-black supernatural centipede to do her bidding, and it can grow big enough to grapple two opponents at once.
  • Big Damn Villains: At the end of Dread Brass Shadows, Garrett is spared the moral dilemma of having to help murder Chodo Contague because the Serpent poisons Chodo first, causing the crime lord to suffer a stroke.
  • The Big Guy: Saucerhead, Playmate, and quite a few others.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: A few, but Old Tin Sorrows and Cruel Zinc Melodies in particular stand out.
    • Even the first book in the series, "Sweet Silver Blues" has shades of this and ends with Garrett Drowning his sorrows.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Ratpeople retain their rat ancestors' reproductive physiology, producing large litters and mating indiscriminately when females come into season. Singe suppresses her mating urges by avoiding unrelated ratmen at that time.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: The Visitors from Angry Lead Skies have senses very different from humans', or so the Dead Man claims after he links with their minds. Garrett has a hard time understanding memories the Loghyr passes on to him from ratpeople or John Stretch's rats, as his sense of smell is negligible compared to theirs. Throughout the series, much is made of the night vision of the ratpeople and elves.
  • Black Magic: There's not much that the Hill sorcerers won't tolerate where magic is concerned, but crafting thread men en masse or Uplifting animals is frowned upon these days. (Not because of ethics, mind you, but because they tend to rile up the masses and/or have Gone Horribly Wrong in the past.)
  • The Blacksmith: Trivias
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Alyx Weider, Giorgi Nicholas and Tinnie Tate. Sometimes extended to four hair colors when blonde Alyx, brown-haired Nicks, and redhead Tinnie are joined by raven-haired Belinda Contague.
  • Brick Joke: In Bitter Gold Hearts, Garrett encounters a troll with huge fangs and mispronounces "saber-toothed tiger" when he describes them. A few of the later books use the same "soober-tithed teegar" and other variants.
    • In Angry Lead Skies, musing about his own Knight in Sour Armor track-record, Garrett observes that he's not the kind of guy who gets to rescue the Princess Classic, or even meet one. At the novel's end, he notices two girls riding three-wheels in the park, and is informed that they're the King's daughters. They're both fairly ugly.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Both Garrett and the Dead Man, both nag each other about it
  • Brown Note: One of the ways Garrett keeps the body-count down in fights is to activate minor one-shot magic items that cause disorientation, nausea, blindness or other temporary impairments.
    • The wards placed on their clubhouse by the Faction include one that makes intruders feel a sudden and intense need for a loo.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Any human bigot stupid enough to hurl insults or rocks at Doris or Marsha quickly learns why it's wiser not to harass someone eighteen feet tall.
  • Call Back: Morley would have been the one smuggled into the ceremony in a coffin in Wicked Bronze Ambition, but he couldn't handle the confinement so soon after his brush with captivity and incapacity in Gilded Latten Bones, so Garrett took his place.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Garrett's preferred weapon is his "head-knocker", a heavy wooden nightstick with a pound of lead embedded in its striking end.
  • Cartwright Curse: Morley warns Garrett in Sweet Silver Blues that this trope seems to apply to Kayean Kronk.
    • Belinda Contague's drivers have a habit of falling for her, then getting killed protecting her from assassins. Comes with the territory when you work for the queenpin...
  • Cast from Lifespan: The more power the curse-possessed killers expended in Red Iron Nights, the more rapid aging it caused.
  • Catch Phrase: Nog is inescapable
  • Chekhov's Gun: The anti-thunder lizard amulet Garrett acquires from Chodo's men in Cold Copper Tears.
  • Chest Burster: In Wicked Bronze Ambition, Moonblight insists that a slain demonic creature's carcass be boiled to prevent it from releasing larval spawn that would burrow into nearby victims and act out this trope.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Maya after Old Tin Sorrows. We're told later that she got tired of waiting around for Garrett to man up and settle down so she married someone else. Garrett didn't take it well.
  • Clarke's Third Law: In Wicked Bronze Ambition, the Operators don't realize that Kip and Kevans have no magical powers for their ritual to steal, assuming that anyone who can invent so many amazing things must be using magic, not engineering, to do it.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Tinnie. Notably she's the one who insisted on the noncommittal nature of her and Garrett's relationship. By Gilded Latten Bones she's become so possessive, obsessively driving Garrett's friends and her own responsibilities out of their life, that it torpedoes their relationship and nearly ruins her career.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: A number of times, Garrett finds what's left of people who've met with this trope, usually at the hands of the Outfit. Raver Styx magically tortures Donni Pell and her husband and brother-in-law in Bitter Gold Hearts.
    • It's implied that this is why Uncle Willard brought tools along when the Tates capture the Serpent.
    • The Rainmaker has a particular reputation for this.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Garrett, big time, in the first book he defends himself when what he even calls "A girlish kick to the shins."
  • Come Alone: At one point Garrett Lampshades how he might be walking into a Come Alone situation, and how there must have been a time when it actually succeeded in suckering someone into a trap for this trope to exist. This doesn't stop him from walking right into the situation that inspired these musings, and doing it alone, however.
  • Corrupt Church: How Morley and Garrett (and everyone else) sees the various sectors of the Church. (They're pretty much right).
  • Conscription: Mandatory for all pure human males and any half bloods that want to be treated as full humans under the law. Brought to an end when Karenta wins the war.
  • Contemptible Cover: Especially for Sweet Silver Blues. There are no guns in this world, thankyouverymuch.
    • Oddly, the rest of the cover actually sums up the novel's world nicely, Garret (this time without a hat, he almost never wears a hat) is a Noir detective meeting with a bunch of ... dwarfs (okay, half-elves, whatever).
    • The back covers' blurbs are often pretty misleading as well.
  • Continuity Nod: Usually at least one per book and usually to the previous book in the series.
    • The vampire-nest from book one got a nod about half a dozen books later, as a hideout for Glory Mooncalled's guerrilla forces.
    • The stunt Morley pulled in Sweet Silver Blues with the vampire in a crate gets referenced in several later novels, up to and including Wicked Bronze Ambition, thirteen books and sixteen real years later.
  • Convenient Coma: Chodo Contague.
  • Covers Always Lie: The covers of the novels almost always show Garrett in a suit with a long coat and either a Fedora or Trilby hat. He never dresses like this in the story itself (in fact descriptions of fashions are very rare indeed), and in particular seldom remembers to wear a hat, much to his annoyance when it rains.
    • Cook even wrote a possible Take That at the covers as Garrett's lack of a hat is a plot point when he dons one in order to go about in disguise.
    • The cover of Sweet Silver Blues, the first book in the series, shows several characters holding submachineguns, and has a light switch visible on a wall. The series takes place in a high fantasy world with full-on Medieval stasis.
      • Well... this is a little screwy, the level of technology as far as weaponry and transportation is at the Medieval Stasis level, but in some of the (rare) descriptions we get of urban architecture, manufacturing, and some of the clothing comes right out of the Noir era. It's a unique series.
      • Depicting the Tates with pointy ears was also a mistake, as Garrett never suspected Denny Tate of having nonhuman blood until Willard told him about it, and Tinnie passed for human among die-hard racists in Faded Steel Heat.
    • The covers always get Garrett's hair color wrong, too.
    • Dread Brass Shadows's cover depicts a dwarf reading a newspaper near a modern-looking drainage grating. While there is minor printing technology in Karenta (otherwise Garrett's book collection would be far more valuable than his entire business), there's nothing on that scale, and sanitation is still at the "gardee loo!" stage.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Hano and Terrel = God and Jesus to the Church and the Orthodox. Plenty of other religions coexist with them, human and otherwise, but these are the dominant Karentine human faiths.
  • Cult: Several of them throughout the series, ranging from apocalyptic lunatics and misogynistic fanatics to benign healers and missionary door-knockers.
  • Cute Kitten: Whispering Nickel Idols.
  • Dark Age of Supernames: Sorcerers adopt aliases. These are obviously intended (by the sorcerers) to sound cool and menacing. Often, they just sound pretentious, and this may be Lampshaded mercilessly. Examples include Raver Styx, Fox Direheart ("just old Fred Blaine at home"), Invisible Black, Furious Tide of Light, and Dreamstalker Doomscrye (or possibly Doomstalker Dreamscrye).
    • Lampshaded in Whispering Nickel Idols, when Morley quips that the one thing he knows about the person Garrett just asked about (Penny Dreadful) is that they'd better find another name to avoid getting smacked around for having it.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Cult of A-Laf, Queen of the Night, is a benign one victimized by A-Lat's fanatics.
  • Day Old Legend: Garrett suspects this is true of Toetickler, a club he buys from a passing dwarf when he's chasing someone and needs a weapon. The dwarf claims it's a Legendary Weapon to jack up the price.
  • Deadly Game: The Tournament of Swords from Wicked Bronze Ambition. Deconstructed in that even Garrett immediately sees how ridiculous an idea it is, and every attempt has been scuttled because the contestants' families went after the Operators rather than risk their children's lives on a one-in-twelve chance.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Just about everyone, Garrett included.
  • Death by Childbirth: Jennifer Stantnor's mother died after giving birth to her because her husband tampered with the medicine her doctor gave her.
  • Death by Origin Story: Garrett's pretty certain that this trope applies to Deal Relway, although he doesn't know any details. Given the intensity of Relway's crime-busting fanaticism, he's probably right.
  • Death of the Old Gods: The Godoroth and Shayir are the oldest human pantheons in the region, and must compete for the right not to be evicted from the Dream Quarter.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Literally so in works of art, such as the statue from Old Tin Sorrows.
    • A villain from Wicked Bronze Ambition refers to the sentient flying thunder lizards as "dragons".
  • Disproportionate Reward: Garrett suffers this at the hands of Chodo Contague after inadvertently helping him eliminate a threat and (later) saving his life. Chodo feels indebted to him, and wouldn't hesitate to kill off any number of mooks to be square. Garrett is not happy about this, seeing as how Chodo personifies everything he despises.
  • Distressed Damsel: Often what gets the story rolling.
  • Divine Date: in Petty Pewter Gods.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Garrett loathes green bell peppers, claiming they're one of the few things even pigs won't eat.
  • Draft Dodging: Inverted by Deal Relway who did not have to serve time in the Cantard because he was not a pure human, but chose to do so as he personally felt it was his duty.
    • A royal bureaucrat in Deadly Quicksilver Lies turns up looking for the Rainmaker, who's not on record as having served his five years in the Cantard. For a good reason: Grange "the Rainmaker" Cleaver was the alternate identity of Maggie Jenn, and women aren't subject to Karentine military conscription unless they're sorcerers.
  • The Dragon: Crask and Sadler are a matched set of Dragons for Chodo Contague.
  • Drop the Hammer: Garrett throws a smithing hammer in a fight from Angry Lead Skies, and admits he'd always liked this trope as a kid while recounting the event.
  • Dumb Is Good: Singe comes to accept Furious Tide of Light when she concludes that the sorceress, who is book-smart but world-naive, is too simple to be evil.
  • Dungeon Punk
  • Dwindling Party: Old Tin Sorrows plays out like this.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Belinda Contague, who plays up this trope with makeup to appear more intimidating.
  • Eldritch Abomination
  • Eldritch Location: Bohdan Zhibak
  • Elemental Magic: Most sorcerer's stock in trade. Casters associated with air (Stormwardens, Windwalkers) and fire (Firelords) are most common in TunFaire; water (Icemasters) and earth (Ferromancers) orientations have been mentioned, but aren't usually found in the city.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Waldo Tharpe, aka Saucerhead.
  • Emotion Bomb: The Dead Man can fiddle with others' mental state, most often by making them distracted or intoxicated so they're no use as witnesses. The Luck of A-Lat generate an aura of mellow euphoria that's powerful enough to suppress an imminent gang war.
  • ET Gave Us Wifi: Kip Prose's inventions appear with increasing frequency once the "silver elves" enhance his brain and Amalgamated puts them into production.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In Bitter Gold Hearts, Lettie the madam had her first big love affair at thirteen, but thinks Donni Pell's preference for ogre-breed lovers is perverted. In Gilded Latten Bones, Morley's gangster friends are disgusted by the resurrection men who sell dead bodies to necromancers.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: "Thunder lizards" are referenced several times in the early books, and start migrating through the area around the middle of the series. By the last few novels, they've mostly moved on, but occasionally rate a mention or a cameo.
  • Evidence Scavenger Hunt: Deconstructed, as Garrett regularly informs the reader that it's a one-in-ten shot he'll find anything informative at all. He still has to go through the motions though, even if it means poking around a mound of ogre corpses or taking a dip in a freezing well.
  • Evil Albino: The chieftain of a half-elven street gang Garrett tangles with in Cold Copper Tears is an albino called Snowball. A minor Outfit thug from Whispering Nickel Idols is an albino so pale and thin that his nickname is Skelington.
  • Evil Cripple: Chodo Contague
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Brownie and her companions.
  • Explosive Leash: In Bitter Gold Hearts, Garrett slips an enchanted crystal into Skredli's pocket and tells him that if he doesn't follow through on the plan they'd agreed to, it'll explode and tear the unfortunate ogre in half. Possibly a subversion, as the witch he'd gotten the crystals from didn't seem the sort to craft an Explosive Leash, so Garrett may have been bluffing.
  • Faked Kidnapping: Due to contradictory clues, Garrett has trouble determining if Junior's kidnapping in Bitter Gold Hearts is this trope or not. It's a kidnapping that started out fake, then turned real when the culprits got greedy and scared.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Blood thirsty, carnivorous unicorns? Check. Thunder lizards? Check. Ghosts, zombies, elves, gnomes, dwarves, vampires, trolls and about a zillion other random mythic creatures, plus a few new ones (mostly due to the others constantly screwing each other)? Double check.
    • Fire-breathing dragons, gryphons, and ostriches are purely-allegorical, however.
  • Fantastic Noir
  • Fantastic Racism: All over the damn place, given that there are so many races mingling in Tun Faire to begin with. Both Garrett and Morley face anti-human and anti-mixed breed sentiment all the time. Morley himself seems to have a special hatred for tiny races (pixies, leprechauns), and a dislike for Ratpeople which Garrett shares until Singe comes into his life. Garrett does develop respect (if not actual fondness) for her brother, John Stretch, as well.
    • Becomes a major political concern after the war's end, when human soldiers return home to find non-humans occupying all the civilian jobs.
    • As hostile as some humans are to half-breeds, hybrids are apparently even more unpopular in many non-human communities. Hence, their gravitation to Karenta, where at least they're treated like (second-class) citizens rather than complete garbage.
    • The Hanite religions practice this trope, preaching that only pure-blooded humans have souls and Other Races are just clever animals that learned to mimic humans' speech and culture.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: A favorite of Garrett, he refers to it as his "eyebrow trick" and considers it his one true skill.
  • Fat Slob: Puddle
  • Fictional Holiday: Karenta celebrates its own version of a Day of the Dead, on the one hand, but also something called "White Day" which combines Valentine's Day with a broader celebration of friendship.
  • Fiery Redhead: Tinnie Tate.
  • First-Person Smartass: Garrett.
  • Flying Firepower: Furious Tide of Light played this trope straight during the Cantard War, and can still zap villains from on high if necessary.
  • Flying Saucer: One of the "silver elves"'s vehicles.
  • Fragile Speedster: The "little booger" from Deadly Quicksilver Lies.
  • The Gambling Addict: Morley, early in the series.
  • Gang of Hats: Lots of gangs of "chuckos" from Cold Copper Tears are race-specific, and the Sisters of Doom are both all-human and all-female. The Stompers from Cruel Zinc Melodies are an aversion, being about as generic as they come.
  • Gasshole: Mr. Mulclar, the door repairman, is an otherwise-nice man who's largely oblivious to his severe flatulence.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Doris and Marsha. Because they're eighteen-foot-tall grolls, nobody's had the nerve to point it out to them.
  • Genius Bruiser: Playmate.
  • Genre-Busting: The whole series combines Film Noir with fantasy, and Angry Lead Skies tosses Grey-like aliens into the mix.
  • Ghostly Goals: Eleanor's ghost sought revenge against General Stantnor and vindication from Garrett.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Morley gets his brand-new shirt caught on something when he and Garrett climb down a wall in Deadly Quicksilver Lies. As Morley's such a clotheshorse, it causes him real pain (and Garrett, immense amusement) when he has to cut the cloth to get loose.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: A major part of Petty Pewter Gods involves the squabble between two minor pantheons struggling to keep a vacant temple in the local religious section of town. Whoever gets kicked off the block will most likely fade away into nonexistence from lack of belief.
    • Also comes up during a discussion in Cold Copper Tears: The Dead Man suggests that the only reason some gods are around at all is because humanity willed them into existence with the power of their faith.
  • Going Native: The Grinblatts, a family of dwarves from Cruel Zinc Melodies, dress like humans, and their children act more human than their parents.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Whatever the dwarves did to Gnorst Gnorst that shocked Winger.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: In a rare departure from his usual Spock Speak, the Dead Man's psychic voice says Oh, sugar! in Gilded Latten Bones. Garrett wonders what the h-e-double-broomsticks brought that on.
  • Granola Girl: Guy, actually. Morley strongly believes that greens are nature's cure alls, and that fresh air and exercise stave off all kinds of horrible diseases, and is very vocal about his opinions. Garrett points out that it kind of clashes with the fact he kills people for a living.
    • It's also suggested that this kind of thinking is very much a Dark Elf thing.
  • Gravity Screw: Morley makes a crack at the Dead Man's expense in Faded Steel Heat, and the Loghyr sticks him to the ceiling as a chastisement. Being Morley, he takes it in stride.
  • Groin Attack: Garrett tends to dish these out in close combat, and several plot-relevant characters have been on the receiving end over the series.
    • Taken to Squicky extremes by the cultists from Cold Copper Tears.
  • Handsome Lech: Morley. Also Garrett, shading into Chivalrous Pervert. A general who met him briefly during his wartime service recalled him as "the kid who could find a girl anywhere, even in the middle of an uninhabited swamp."
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Loads.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Garrett, obviously. Pokey Pigota also.
  • Haunted House: The Dead Man used to make people think this was true of the house on Macunado Street, until Garrett bought it and moved in, making the ruse unnecessary to keep intruders away.
  • Heinz Hybrid: Also loads, to the point where there's a slang term ("unique") for hybrids with complicated ancestry.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: And how! Garrett's longest-lasting girlfriend Tinnie is a Fiery Redhead, and he's variously drooled over Carla Lindo Ramada and several of her duplicates, Maggie Jenn, and Katie Shaver. Kip Prose, a geek who fantasizes about being a hero, is in love with Kyra Tate.
  • Heroic BSOD: In Old Tin Sorrows, Garrett has one of these after dealing with a particularly sad ghost with a tragic history.
    • A whole lot of witnesses, heroic or just bystanders, experience a brief BSOD at the sight of the Hill's most-dreaded elite sorcerers having had the living crap kicked out of them in Cruel Zinc Melodies.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: For someone so obsessed with law and order, a whole lot of people have managed to vanish under Deal Relway's watch. . .
  • Heterosexual Lifepartners: Garrett and Morley, bordering on Ho Yay sometimes.
    • Subverted by Crask and Saddler. Turns out they're just life partners.
  • Hidden Depths: Sarge seems like a run-of-the-mill bruno early on, but it's later revealed that he's both a talented drill sergeant able to get even Kip Prose to shut up and pay attention, and a former field medic who could stay drunk for the rest of his life admitting as much to grateful fellow-veterans in pubs if he wanted.
    • Garrett sometimes considers Morley to be this, due to his Bizarre Dark-Elven Psychology.
  • Horsing Around: Garrett's running-gag feud with the equine species.
  • Hospital Hottie: Doc Chaz
  • Hot Librarian: Linda Lee
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Played straight with Saucerhead's various petite girlfriends; inverted with Winger and the Remora. Later averted by Saucerhead and Winger.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Garrett's opinion on the matter, though technically it's more like 'everyone is a bastard'.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Singe is much better at keeping Garrett's business organized and profitable than he ever was, so much so that her ever-growing talents actually scare him a little. He's long since decided to hand over his investigation service to her if/when he retires.
  • Identical Grandson: Garrett and Barate speculate that the culprits in Gilden Latten Bones might be the throwback offspring of Shadowslinger's cousin Jane. Subverted; they're actually Jane herself, and other relatives long thought dead, now rejuvenated by stolen life force.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All books in the series follow an Adjective-Metal-Noun format, which may soon prove a problem when Cook runs out of metals. A recent one being Gilded Latten Bones, he's already dipping into the obscure...
  • Implausible Hair Color: The sexy, leather-clad female villains in Gilded Latten Bones have oddly-gray hair. Not so odd, once you know they're old ladies who've used stolen life force to make themselves younger. As hair is made up of dead cells, it didn't get younger with the rest of them.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Winger's taste in dresses leaves people's eyes watering. Sextons from the Cult of A-Laf dress in green plaid pants so hideous, Garrett nicknames them the Ugly Pants Gang. The coat Garrett borrows for a while in Cruel Zinc Melodies was deliberately designed to be this trope by a prankster.
  • Indian Burial Ground: One possible cause for the World Theater haunting that's shot down right away: it's built on a block of former Tenderloin properties with no history of ghosts, which presumably would've shown up sooner if they'd been constructed on an old burial ground.
  • Indy Ploy: As often as not, Garrett "solves" mysteries by engineering collisions between his own investigation and the various suspects, then living through the resulting crossfire. Garrett himself admits this is because he can't puzzle out the answer by brains alone, so he just stirs the pot and ramps up the pressure until the villain cracks and does something stupid.
  • Innocent Aliens: Angry Lead Skies has several groups of "silver elves", most of which were innocently trying to spread knowledge and peace throughout the universe. Of course, It doesn't really work out that way.
  • Insistent Terminology: Jackals, not dogs.
  • Ironic Name: Gorgeous, the butt-ugly human leader of the ogre gang from Bitter Gold Hearts.
  • It's Quiet... Too Quiet: Garrett Lampshades it to Eleanor in the aftermath of Deadly Quicksilver Lies.
  • Kaleidoscope Eyes: Furious Tide of Light
  • Kill It with Fire: How Garrett and Morley deal with vampires in the first book, and how the draugs' cut-up remains are destroyed in Old Tin Sorrows.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Garrett, big time. Glory Mooncalled is implied to have become this in the wake of his Cantard republic's fall.
  • Knight Templar: Deal Relway.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: The witch Handsome from Deadly Quicksilver Lies runs one.
  • Language Equals Thought: The dark elfin language uses the same word for "mercy" as for "madness". Creepily, it's a half-dark elf who matter-of-factly tells Garrett this.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Dead Man tampers with Kolda's mind so that the apothecary will never recall anything he learns while at Garrett's place.
  • Last of His Kind: Penny Dreadful is the last priestess of A-Laf.
  • Latex Perfection: How Casey passes for human in Angry Lead Skies.
  • Living MacGuffin: Garrett accidentally becomes one of these in Petty Pewter Gods due to some Powers That Be meddling. They Intended for him to pick which of the warring pantheons should continue to exist, possibly gathering a large amount of money by the way of bribes along the way. It didn't work out that way.
  • Long-Lost Relative: A few sorcerous villains in the later books turn out to be relatives of the Algardas or their neighbors, who'd been in hiding and/or had been thought deceased. Plausible, as the sorcerers of the Hill have evidently been intermarrying for centuries, so any Hill-caliber spellcaster is bound to be related to some degree.
  • Mad Artist: Snake (from Old Tin Sorrows). A little bit of innate, unfocused magic, mixed with his insanity means that every painting of his has a bit of magic in it, for better or worse.
    • Bird from Gilden Latten Bones subverts this, as he really does hear ghostly voices. And they keep talking through his mouth after he's dead.
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase: Seems like every book has a new permutation of a snarky "flying pigs" reference.
  • Madness Mantra: "How're you doing? I'm Ivy."
  • Magic Ais Magic A
  • Mafia Princess: Belinda Contague is an example. Notably, her father never hid his shady doings from her.
  • Mama Bear: Raver Styx was scary enough before anyone threatened her kids. It's fear of this that drives the villains to become even more murderous, to cover their butts against her anticipated wrath. Which is understandable, given what she does to the ones who killed her son.
    • Shadowslinger is set up as the ultimate Grandma Bear in Wicked Bronze Ambition. Triple subverted, as she suffers a stroke that apparently takes her out of the action, unable to avenge Strafa and protect Kevans. Then reveals she's been faking her incapacity, suggesting a she-bear rampage is back on the menu. Then reveals it's not going to happen, because Shadowslinger's own botched spell killed Strafa and Garrett's other allies take down the Operators without her help.
  • Mammy: Cook from Old Tin Sorrows, aside from being a half-troll rather than black.
  • Manly Tears: Garrett in Old Tin Sorrows. It's completely justified.
  • The Matchmaker: Dean spends several books trying to get Garrett interested in his homely nieces, without success.
  • Meaningful Funeral: In Wicked Bronze Ambition.
  • Meat Versus Veggies: A regular topic of casual back-and-forth carping between Garrett and Morley.
  • Medicine Show: Doc Doom, the exorcist from Old Tin Sorrows, self-promotes by traveling with one of these. Despite the gaudy showmanship, he actually does prove competent.
  • Medieval Stasis: Kiiiiiiind of, although certain things have advanced weapons straight out of the dark ages and electricity is nowhere to be seen outside of a summer storm, other things suggest a much more urban and modern setting though, for instance: indoor plumbing is available but not always common.
    • Houses and buildings are usually multiple stories, yet Garrett's entire ground floor (in a four bedroom house, mind you) has only one window. Granted, that's because most people bricked up their ground-floor windows when the war's immigrants and refugees brought a crime wave with them.
    • Subverted from "Angry Lead Skies" onward, as technology and manufacturing start advancing very quickly.
  • Memetic Badass: Glory Mooncalled is an in-universe example.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Rhafi is almost completely overshadowed by his siblings, and what-little personality he displays suggests he's a bit of a jerk.
  • Missing Mom: Inverted by Winger, who is somebody's mom who got fed up and left to start a new life.
  • Mission Control: The Dead Man invokes this trope on a couple of cases, by way of his psychic influence over Mr. Big.
  • The Mole: The major in Sweet Silver Blues; Sampson in Cold Copper Tears.
  • More Than Mindcontrol: Dead Man can peek into people's heads, move objects around, and generally screw around with people. He just doesn't because he's lazy.
  • Motor Mouth: Dojango Roze couldn't shut up if you paid him. This makes him a marginally-less extreme example than the Goddamn Parrot, who couldn't shut up if you drowned him. Unless the Dead Man is riding shotgun in his brain.
    • Rocky from Cruel Zinc Melodies is a blazing fast talker... for a troll. Which means he can keep up with a human's conversation.
  • My Greatest Failure: Failing to protect Amiranda becomes this, for Saucerhead.
  • Mysterious Watcher: Lurking Felhske plays this role for various employers in different books.
  • Mythology Gag: The grandmother of Furious Tide of Light is herself a powerful sorceress, using the name Shadowslinger. The second book of the Black Company series is titled Shadows Linger.
  • Nerd: The Faction is a clique of nerds who tinker with various inventions and magics, most of them from wealthy Hill families.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Along with Unreliable Narrator, Garrett rarely (if ever) censors profanities. Instead he leaves out bits of his own dialogue or will insist he said something else in order to make himself look like less of a fool. Other characters reactions to him will betray that he said or did something incredibly dumb though.
  • The Nick Namer: Garrett. He usually winds up calling people whose names he doesn't know things like 'Weasely Guy' and the like.
    • Winger does this too.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Garrett's initial reaction to Winger.
  • No Name Given: Nobody uses Garrett's first name, ever. Oddly enough, nobody in story seems to notice, or at least not to care. If he does He must have a first name, because references to his family make it clear "Garrett" is the family name, but he isn't letting on.
    • Cook's a tease about this, as Garrett's childhood and marine-corps nicknames have both been revealed. Tinnie likewise invents a pet name for him, right at a point in their relationship when you'd expect her to drop "Garrett" and start using his given name.
    • Actually becomes plot-relevant in Wicked Bronze Ambition, when Hagekagome doesn't realize he's not Mikey Garrett.
    • The Dead Man's real name has never been stated either. Nor Playmate's.
    • Winger doesn't use a first name, and even "Winger" itself may be an alias chosen so the family she deserted won't track her down.
    • Cook in Old Tin Sorrows refuses to give any other name than Cook, even though Garrett pesters her about it.
  • No One Sees the Boss: Crime boss Chodo Contague has a stroke and his daughter Belinda takes over his organization, claiming to relay his orders.
  • Noble Bigot: Lt. Nagit from Faded Steel Heat. Marengo North English tries to be this, but falls short on the "Noble" part in the clinch.
  • Nobody Poops: An unemptied chamber pot convinces Garrett that Junior's kidnapping wasn't a complete fake in Bitter Gold Hearts. His pressing need to urinate upon waking averts one of the Windwalker's attempts to seduce Garrett in Gilded Latten Bones, and a bedridden Morley needs to be "cleaned up" regularly by his ratwomen nurses in the same book.
  • Nonhuman Humanoid Hybrid: Doris and Marsha
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Pular Singe.
  • Non-Idle Rich: As much as Garrett disrespects Karenta's noble class, even he gives them credit for participating fully in the Cantard War, either as battlefield sorcerers or as officers who lead (albeit not so competently) from the front.
  • Non-Indicative First Episode: The first book in the series (Sweet Silver Blues) is less of a mystery and more of a fairly straightforward adventure story, albeit told in a noir style.
  • Noodle Incident: The time Garrett returned a borrowed coach to Playmate without remembering to remove the corpse stashed inside it, first.
  • The Nose Knows: Ratfolk have an exceptional sense of smell, which their trackers (Singe especially) employ to follow people's trails.
    • In Old Tin Sorrows, Morley claims to have located Garrett's room by following the "meat eater smell" - in a house shared by several other humans, no less - but it's not quite clear if he actually can do that or is just making up excuses to tease Garrett.
  • No Such Agency: The Unpublished Committee for Royal Security, or whatever they're calling themselves this week.
  • Not a Morning Person: Garrett.
  • Older than They Look: Some of the nonhumans, such as Cook from Old Tin Sorrows, have been around for many generations of humans.
  • Once an Episode: Garrett WILL get knocked out and/or beaten up at least once per novel.
    • In nearly every book set in TunFaire, the Dead Man falls asleep right when his assistance would wrap up the case.
  • One-Man Army: Saucerhead Tharpe is justifiably called this by Skredli, whose gang of ogres Tharpe waded through like they were sick kittens.
  • One-Note Cook: Dean's cooking in Cruel Zinc Melodies gets into a rut: he's been serving various forms of stew (fish, rabbit, beef, chicken) for enough days in a row that Garrett calls him out on it.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with Morley's crew, which included one "Sarge" who died in Bitter Gold Hearts and another who first appeared in Red Iron Nights. Easily justifiable, as the Cantard War produced a lot of sergeants.
  • Open Says Me: Saucerhead's favored means of entry into locked rooms. Averted by Morley, who's good at lockpicking and claims "I don't do Thon-Gore the Learning Disabled". Played with in Garrett's case, as it works fine for a dry-rotted egress at the Stantnor estate but fails when he tries it on a sturdier door.
  • Orifice Evacuation / Invasion: When the Dead Man first appears in the series, he's a bit neglected, to the point where a spider has set up housekeeping in one of his nostrils. It peeks out at Garrett, then ducks back inside.
    • The butterfly-barfing villains from Red Iron Nights.
  • Orphaned Punchline: "A troll, an ogre, and a barbarian walk into a bar. The elephant behind the bar says 'We don't serve'..." "Mice are never amusing." We don't know what linked this joke's opening and punch lines.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Demons are discussed in Wicked Bronze Ambition, albeit only in regards to Dread Companions. Little is said about their nature or abilities, but the existence of a "demon realm" from which they can be summoned is mentioned, as is the fact that most demons are fed up with sorcerers and/or humans, so only the bottom-of-the-barrel riffraff actually heed such calls anymore.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Cruel Zinc Melodies. Very different, they're sentient fungus.
  • Our Elves Are Different
  • Our Ghosts Are Different
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Subverted? Gnomes are just short people. A whole race of them. The Tates are a reoccurring family of them.
    • Not quite. It's stated that they have some gnomish elf or dwarf blood, but not so much that they can't pass for ordinary humans even among die-hard racists. Garrett does refer to Mr. Tate as "the gnome king" at one point, but that's just him being a Deadpan Snarker; real gnomes, when shown, could barely reach his kneecaps.
  • Our Liches Are Different: The Dead Man is a non-evil psychic variant.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampirism is treated strictly as The Virus and can be cured somewhat easily if it's in the early stages
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The draugs from Old Tin Sorrows.
  • Out Of Character Is Serious Business: Garrett's friends know he's taking a case very seriously if he overcomes his usual distaste for horses so he can ride around the city faster.
  • Papa Wolf: Garrett may not want kids, but he's got a protective-father streak a mile wide for his daughter-surrogates. He delivered a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Maya's molesting stepfather when they first met, and he's likewise highly protective of Singe's dignity and virtue.
  • Parental Incest: Several of the named female characters have a backstory of being sexually molested by their stepfathers (war casualties resulted in a lot of widows who remarried). And then there's the powerful sorceress "Furious Tide of Light", who had her father's daughter — for extra Squick, it's hinted that her mother was his mother, too, although this was apparently later proven incorrect. Most bizarrely, Garrett notes in the latest book that these two are some of the nicest, most admirable people in the sorcerous power structure. Good Lord.
    • Previous historical references in Red Iron Nights suggest that incest isn't uncommon among the sorcerous elite, because magical ability is genetic and inbreeding amplifies this over generations. The fact that this usually leaves most sorcerers inbred and insane doesn't bother anyone.
    • Amber dePena subverted this trope by threatening to tell her Stormwarden mother. Not so, her foster sister Amiranda, who wound up pregnant by Amber's dad.
  • Pardon My Klingon: Morley Dotes, while he seldom swears in Karentine, cusses a blue streak in Low Elvish on occasion.
  • People Jars: Shapeshifter offspring develop in vats of yeasty-smelling liquid. The production of "thread men" requires them to be submerged in glass tanks.
  • Petting Zoo People
  • The Phoenix: Brother Brittigarn tells Garrett about phoenixes in Whispering Nickel Idols. The Dead Man later reveals that most of what he'd said was untrue.
  • Pirate Parrot: Several jokes about this trope crop up during Mr. Big's tenure in the series.
  • Planet of Steves: The main reason Garrett didn't like No Ravens Went Hungry, the historical trilogy of books from Deadly Quicksilver Lies, was that far too many of its characters had virtually-identical names.
  • Poison and Cure Gambit: Mid-tier gangster Teacher White tries to coerce Garrett into locating someone for him by dosing him with a poison that will make him stop breathing after a while, then promising the antidote if Garrett delivers. This ploy fails because the Dead Man psychically maintains Garrett's breathing until the drug is washed out of his system.
  • Poke in the Third Eye: The A-Laf deacon has "mousetraps" implanted in his psyche, making it more of a challenge for the Dead Man to read his mind. Telepathically sensing the presence that attacks Garrett's house in Gilded Latten Bones briefly leaves the Loghyr overwhelmed by revulsion at what he detects.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: The Dead Man is a Straw Misogynist to the core, for comedic reasons — largely something else for him and Garrett to bicker like old women over.
    • Garrett himself starts out sharing the typical human disdain for ratpeople, but regrets it later once he gets to know Singe and John Stretch.
  • Powers That Be: Annoy the heck out of Garrett in Petty Pewter Gods.
  • Precision F-Strike: Morley and Tinnie don't cuss often, but Morley does say "Shit!" when a carnivorous thunder lizard sticks its head in the window of a coach he's riding in, and Tinnie does the same when several Hill sorcerers are attacked at the World's construction site.
  • Professional Killer: Morley Dotes. There are plenty of mooks and secondary characters paid to kill/bruise people up, but he's the most prominently featured one. Might also coincide with Hitman with a Heart.
  • Properly Paranoid: Nobody with secrets to hide wants to come anywhere near the Dead Man, with good reason. The revelation that their own ranks were infiltrated by shapeshifters breaks up the racialists' conspiracies, as they no longer trust even one another.
  • Psychic Block Defense: Kip Prose's wire hairnets are designed to counter the Dead Man's mind-reading powers. He eventually finds a way past them, but lets visitors believe the devices are working.
    • Garrett's simple overexposure to The Dead Man and his psychic abilities have left his mind much harder to read for other psychics.
  • Psycho Serum: Playmate, normally a sweet-tempered pacifist, goes berserk and busts up Morley's place after a cook puts angelweed in his salad as a prank. This sets the stage for Morley's refit of the Joy House as The Palms.
  • Puppet King: Puppet kingpin, rather, when Belinda takes over the Outfit by putting words in her stroke-impaired father's mouth. Sadler and Crask briefly did the same, until she supplanted them and chased them out of town.
  • Rags to Riches: Pular Singe. Not yet all that rich by human standards, but already an unprecedented success among ratpeople, and she's still young.
  • Reality Ensues: The Shayir owl-girls quickly learn that real owls go to ground in daylight, because crows that spot one flying around will caw up a bunch of buddies to mob and drive off the "predator".
  • Really Gets Around: Kayne Prose has three children by three different fathers.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Prince Rupert.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The early novels were essentially Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe in a fantasy setting.
  • Red-Headed Hero: Garret himself.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Nobody believes Garrett's story about a dragon under the World Theater, so he ensures everyone will think that Max Weider'd sent him to start a rumor about a dragon to drum up publicity for his new playhouse.
  • Reliable Traitor: Willa Dount. Tama Montezuma
  • Religion of Evil: The doomsday-cult Sons of Hammon. The despair-fomenting followers of A-Laf.
  • Restraining Bolt: Garrett bluffs a bad guy with a lurid description of "Loghyr mindworms" in Whispering Nickel Idols, only for the Dead Man to (apparently) start implanting them for real. At least, "for real" enough to make one of the implanted villains go Off the Rails and start attacking his own Outfit associates on the Dead Man's behalf, desperate to get it removed.
    • In Gilded Latten Bones, a minion of the villains is psychically pre-programmed to die of heart failure if the Dead Man tries to probe his mind. This backfires when the Loghyr manages to quash the implanted command, then explains to the minion how his superiors has set him up to die.
  • Reverse Mole: Garrett sets out to infiltrate the humans-first racists in Faded Steel Heat. They never trust him enough to tell him anything intentionally, but he does manage to expose some shapeshifters among them and thus undermine their conspiracies by making them too paranoid to trust each other.
  • Right Behind Me: The opening of Red Iron Nights blends this one with Genre Savvy, and hangs a lampshade on it to boot.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Ratpeople can stand up to five feet tall if they straighten up from their usual slouch. John Stretch brings the biggest normal rats he can find to clear bugs out of the World Theater in Cruel Zinc Melodies, including one Garrett describes as "the undisputed heavyweight champion barbarian hero of all ratdom".
  • Roof Hopping: The grolls do this in Bitter Gold Hearts. Garrett Lampshades how unlikely it is that the people inside the building don't notice there's a couple of tons of groll jumping on their roof.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Crown Prince Rupert takes an active hand in getting the Civil Guard up and running, and tries to recruit Garrett as his personal agent/investigator. Averted by his brother the King, who reportedly spent all his time partying and sleeping late after the war ended.
    • The Hill nobility, with rare exceptions, led from the front during the Cantard War. Even noblewomen had to serve their five if they had a talent for sorcery.
  • Running Gag: Nobody believes that Mr. Big (AKA 'The Goddamned Parrot') can really talk on his own.
    • Garrett's door is routinely damaged, even after he replaces it with a stronger door.
    • Nearly every book sees Garrett's narration come up with a new permutation of a "flying pigs" reference.
    • Some examples are specific to individual novels, like everybody and their dog leaving stolen goat carts outside Garrett's place in Whispering Nickel Idols, everybody Garrett meets in Faded Steel Heat assuming he's a ventriloquist when Mr. Big speaks, or everyone punching or poking Garrett in the same increasingly-sore arm in Wicked Bronze Ambition.
    • In and after Cruel Zinc Melodies, any time somebody mentions that novel's giant bugs, somebody else is sure to voice their relief that the Faction never made any giant spiders.
  • Running on All Fours: Ratpeople sometimes do this when they need to move fast and have their hands free.
  • Schmuck Bait: The small box Handsome lends to Garrett in Deadly Quicksilver Lies. Even after it starts to buzz menacingly and one of his thugs warns him, Davenport still opens it and unleashes the deadly "little booger" on himself.
  • Screw You, Elves!
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Racialist extremist Davenport has identical-twin thugs at his beck and call, named Otto and Otah. Even being beaten to a pulp, Garrett snarks to himself about how stupid their names' mirror-image pronunciation is.
  • Secret Police: Deal Relway's Unpublished Committee for Royal Security, or whatever it's calling itself this week.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: How the Dead Man makes use of the Goddamn Parrot. Garrett's sure the Loghyr had tried to do the same with him as well, but maintaining such a real-time link to a sentient creature's senses proved too difficult.
    • In Gilded Latten Bones, Garrett experiences a memory through Singe's eyes, ears and nose, as facilitated by the Dead Man.
  • Semper Fi: Garrett is an ex-Marine, and has a bit of an attitude about it.
  • Servile Snarker: Dean. His reaction to Garrett's various supernaturally inclined, city/world saving endeavors? Nagging him about his love of the sauce, his taste in women, and how he needs to get a steady job.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The treasure of Eagle, sought by many competing parties in Deadly Quicksilver Lies, fell into the sea and was lost centuries ago. And the Dead Man knew it all along, but nobody asked.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: The deities in Petty Pewter Gods can change size without difficulty, but the flying horses' torsos narrow drastically when their wings emerge, implying these animals retain the same mass with or without wings.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: Shapeshifters fall under type B. It's mentioned that one of the unnamed shifters takes on the looks of a soldier he fought with during the war, several decades before the current story and a few months before the entire group of shapeshifters pull a faceheelturn.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Morley
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Maya, whom neither Garrett nor Morley even recognize when they first see her dressed like a woman rather than a street-gang urchin.
  • She Is the King: Having a Sweet Polly Oliver on the throne is a common theatrical plot-device during Gilded Latten Bones.
  • Shout-Out: The scene where Garrett is hired in Old Tin Sorrows is lifted intact from The Big Sleep. After the end of Sweet Silver Blues, the continuing household dynamic of Garrett (Archie Goodwin), the Dead Man (Nero Wolfe) and Dean (Fritz Brenner) is set up.
    • In Angry Lead Skies, Garrett cites a Noodle Incident as proof of Winger's boneheadedness, in which she stole a singing sword that wouldn't shut up. His description of its song is a snarky summary of Der Ring des Nibelungen.
    • Garrett's having only one name could be a reference to Spenser.
    • His lasting feelings for Eleanor and his attachment to her portrait may be an oblique nod to Laura, albeit with a ghost rather than a woman whose death was mis-reported.
    • Saucerhead slugs a camel in Angry Lead Skies.
    • When he originally took over the Outfit, Chodo got rid of some potentially-troublesome underbosses by bashing their heads in with a centaur tribal mace.
  • Signature Scent: Lurking Felhske has a health condition that gives him an unique body odor, which even humans can detect. This gives away his presence at times, especially when he also forgets to bathe.
  • Sleeping Dummy: Garrett leaves a blanket-covered suit of armor in his bed while he sneaks around the Stantnor mansion at night. And a good thing too: when he gets back, there's an ax buried in the armor.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: John Stretch (Singe's brother) can talk to rats.
  • Spock Speak: The Dead Man's mental communication uses highly formal grammar and refrains from contractions. Singe has to work at it to remember to use contractions, and John Stretch has yet to master them.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: Reports of people bursting into flames circulate in a couple of the novels, as a rumor going around the city. Garrett finally looks into the matter in Whispering Nickel Idols, and learns that Chodo Contague triggered some of them with the help of some pyrogenic rocks planted by his lawyer. Saucerhead also tracks down some cases that turn out to be ordinary accidental fires, under circumstances very similar to the Real Life mishaps that inspired the Spontaneous Human Combustion Urban Legend in the first place.
  • Spooky Painting: Eleanor's painting, which only Garrett can see move (he even talks to it and half-jokes that he's in love with her), although others are disturbed by it. It may or may not be possessed by her ghost.
  • Square/Cube Law: The giant bugs from Cruel Zinc Melodies aren't very agile, and some die when they attempt to fly and their wings aren't strong enough to hold up their proportionately-greater weight.
  • Status Quo Is God: Used fairly straight for the first few books, then zigzagged in the wake of Dread Brass Shadows, and finally thrown out completely with Faded Steel Heat.
  • Stock Gods: Several of the Godoroth and Shayir conform to standard Fantasy Pantheon archetypes (grumpy Grandpa God, love goddess, messenger, huntress, top god's embittered wife), so much so that Garrett can guess their personalities on sight.
  • Stout Strength: Bishoff Hullar
  • Straight Gay: Crask and Sadler, Chodo Contague's two top killers, until they tried to take over. If there's any hint of their being lovers in the first seven or eight books, it's very subtle. When it's finally mentioned, nobody makes a big deal of it.
    • The only one who figures them out almost instantly after meeting them (in Dread Brass Shadows) is... Winger, who's supposedly too dumb to come in from rain.
  • Stun Gun: The "silver elves" from Angry Lead Skies carry non-lethal stunning weapons.
  • Super Soldier: Karenta is implied to have utilized magic-based variants of these, including programmed berserkers like Slither and spell-slinging "Nighthunters" who eliminated the Cantard's indigenous vampires and other predators.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: All the time, in fact it's rare that a case ever ends the way Garret would like it to.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Penny passes for a boy when she first arrives in TunFaire.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: "You could weep for the pain of the child while knowing you had to destroy the monster it had become."
  • The Syndicate: Chodo Contague is the evil crime lord with a hand in nearly every dirty deal going on in TunFaire.
  • Telepathy: Dead Man communicates this way.
  • That Old Time Prescription: Dean brews willow-bark tea for Garrett after nights of heavy drinking.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Lt. Nagit's introduction in Faded Steel Heat. It's "Lieutenant" or "Mr. Nagit" to you, Garrett, not "Ed".
  • Those Two Guys: Puddle and Sarge in the later books.
  • Title Drop: Starting with Cold Copper Tears.
    • Garret will sometimes provide an alternate Title Drop for the current story which sometimes serves as a Fan Nickname for that particular book such as Dread Brass Shadows also being known as "Too Many Redheads" or Sweet Silver Blues being called "That Vampire Thing". They're almost always Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Winger at times, although she's also proved Too Lucky To Die up to now.
  • Touched by Vorlons: To a lesser extent. In their desperate attempt to get home, the formerly Innocent Aliens fill Kip Prose's head up with all sorts of scientific know-how and ideas for amazing inventions that he probably never would have come up with on his own. The genius stays with him long after they're gone.
    • Garrett himself appears to have picked up a mild sensitivity to mind-reading, due to his long-term association with (and training by?) the Dead Man.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Garrett and beer. Singe and steamed apples. For Dean, it's tea.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Morley has a problem with this early in the series until he manages to get his gambling addiction under control.
  • Trash of the Titans: Barking Dog Amato's apartment is knee-deep in discarded paper and food wrappers, with rooms full of piled-up handbills.
  • Trojan Horse: Garrett sneaks into the villains' ceremony in Wicked Bronze Ambition by hiding in a coffin.
  • True Companions: Garrett, Dean, Singe, and even the Dead Man eventually for a sort of family unit.
  • The Undead: Loads of them. The vampires, for one (although it's stated that Vampirism is actually a disease) . The Dead Man is a Loghyr, which is a species that after death always become spirits haunting their corpses until the body is completely destroyed. In this case, a spirit that can do a little mind control, lift things up, and communicate with (read: insult) Garrett telepathically. Both zombies and draugs pop up in the books too.
  • Uneven Hybrid: The Tates have a bit of elf blood on both sides of the family, although it's not obvious from their looks.
  • Unicorn: Sweet Silver Blues inverts their benign image.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Garrett edits or omits some of his own dialogue and we have to rely on other character's reactions to figure out what's going on. For example he will often insist he muttered something like "Um," "Uh," or "Huh?" when it's obvious he said something much dumber/insensitive. He also downplays his own hobbies to cover up his Badass Bookworm and (possible) Closet Geek status while gleefully telling us about the bad or embarrassing habits of his friends. Another trait is his tendency to greatly abbreviate his sexual history.
    • Garrett's anecdotes about the dangers his Marine unit faced in the Cantard island's swamps may or may not be an example. On one hand, snakes "as long as anchor chains" sounds like one of his usual exaggerations, but on the other, he does live in a world where dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts are still around, so Megaboa isn't out of the question...
  • Unusual Ears: The "silver elves" completely lack external ears, a fact that convinces the Dead Man they're not just another Heinz Hybrid combo of local humanoids.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The "pirates" from Deadly Quicksilver Lies, or the "silver elves" from Angry Lead Skies. Also, some slang terms for interspecies sexual practices are mentioned in Sweet Silver Blues.
  • Uplifted Animal: The ratpeople were created by past sorcerers' experimentation on ordinary rats. Some strains are more rat-like than others.
    • It's later revealed that at least some flying thunder lizards were also Uplifted.
    • Happened accidentally to Hagekagome.
  • Up Marketing: Max Weider and the Tates promote several of Amalgamated's products via snob appeal, artificially elevating prices and bad-mouthing knockoffs of their wares.
    • Morley's conversion of the Joy House into The Palms, at least until the novelty wore off and his customers thinned out.
  • Urine Trouble: The Goddamn Parrot starts to poop on the Dead Man in Faded Steel Heat, and gets flung telekinetically across the room for his trouble.
  • Verbal Tic: Dojango Roze uses his favorite word a lot, actually.
  • Villainous Crossdresser: Deadly Quicksilver Lies Also Recursive
    • Donni Pell from Bitter Gold Hearts is alleged to play the Sweet Polly Oliver trope, but isn't actually seen doing so.
    • Belinda Contague has been known to dress up as a dapper young man when she needs to be anonymous.
  • Villainous Rescue: Happens a few times when Garrett is caught between rival factions. In Dread Brass Shadows, for example, he's saved from dwarves by Crask and Sadler, then from Chodo's thugs by a passing tyrannosaur.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Constance Algarda the Shadowslinger, an otherwise-terrifying sorceress, has a voice like an eight-year-old girl. Her son usually speaks for her to preserve her scary image.
  • Vomiting Cop: Afflicts a lot of red caps during the raid on a necromantic laboratory, General Block included.
  • Walking Arsenal: Garrett borrows a sword, helmet, shield and ax from a little dwarf girl, who complains that he's leaving her with nothing. He points out that she's still got her other sword, her daggers, her truncheon, her boots, her teeth, and whatever she's got in her trousseau, which should suffice for the couple of blocks she's got to walk.
  • Wall of Weapons: Morley has an arsenal concealed behind a movable wall-panel in his office. Garret originally kept his weapons (mostly those taken off of guys trying to kill him) in a spare room of his house before moving it to an upstairs closet. The Stantnor mansion is decorated in Late Medieval Arsenal.
  • War Is Hell: Part of Garrett's backstory. Five years in the Marines, most of it stuck in a swamp.
    • Part of the backstory for almost every male Karentine human over the age of twenty-three, for that matter.
  • Weirdness Magnet: So much so, by Red Iron Nights even brunos who only know Garrett by reputation start leaving Morley's bar when he arrives, to avoid the inevitable weird.
  • What Happened To The Mousers?: The Luck of A-Lat only appear in Whispering Nickel Idols, and their whereabouts are unmentioned even after Penny, their caretaker, moves into the Macunado Street house.
  • Wicked Witch: Shadowslinger works hard to maintain this image. Garrett himself isn't sure how much of her act is a ruse. The Serpent, however, is the real thing.
  • Wild Magic: The curse from Red Iron Nights is "alive" in a sense, and able to learn. And breed.
  • Witch Species: Magical talents are implied to be hereditary, and concentrated in Karenta's upperclass families. Magical abilities in commoners are suspected to derive from a (slumming) noble ancestor.
    • However there is a clear distinction made between Sorcery and Witchcraft. True Sorcery (which mostly seems to take the form of Elemental Magic) is hereditary, Witchcraft can be done by almost anyone.
  • Woman in Black: Practically a trademark of Belinda Contague, to a point where wearing anything but black makes her virtually unrecognizable.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: The end of the Cantard War causes more social disruption and economic unrest than did keeping it going for three generations. The Dead Man even speculates that this trope is why it was allowed to go on so long.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Garret and Saucerhead are both suckers for anything needy and female, to the point where Garrett needlessly risks his neck when he doesn't have to, and Saucerhead took out several ogres for killing a girl he was supposed to protect.
    • Garrett does avert this a couple of times, but once it was to chastise a female mastermind who'd shamelessly tried to blame an innocent murder victim for another victim's death, and the other time he didn't realize it was a woman following him until after his punch connected. In the former case, he mentally assures himself she's no lady in any sense but the biological.
    • He also whups Winger when she tries to haul him off in Dread Brass Shadows, and is willing enough to fight rough against female magic-users like the Serpent. Really, it's only unarmed women Garrett's hesitant to strike.
  • You Remind Me of X: In Faded Steel Heat, Garrett is given the late Tad Weider's old clothes by Max. People who knew Tad find Garrett's resemblance to the fallen Weider son a bit unnerving, when seeing him dressed that way.
  • Younger than They Look: Melondie Kadare's tribe of pixies age much faster than humans, and live out their whole lifespans over the course of a few books.


The GargoyleFantasy LiteratureGemma Doyle
Garden Of ShadowsLiterature of the 1980sThe Gate To Women's Country
Finnegan ZwakeMystery LiteratureGet Blank
Felse InvestigatesDetective LiteratureGet Blank
The Dresden FilesLong-Running Book SeriesGor

alternative title(s): Garrett PI
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