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Garrett Files #4

Old Tin Sorrows

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When his old friend Blake Peters calls in some overdue favors. Garrett feels like he’s committed himself to a corps of corpses. Someone is trying to kill Blake’s wealthy, retired General Stantnor, in a most lingering, painful, and maybe poisonous way. Can Garrett keep the general above ground?

But Stantnor’s mansion holds a host of surprises for a human detective who thought he’d seen it all. For while the general is dying slowly, his employees are losing their lives at a far speedier rate. And when some of the not-long-departed try to enlist their comrades in the growing legions of the dead, Garrett knows it’s time to call in his own troops—in the person of Morley Dotes, the toughest half-elf around. With Morley guarding his back, Garrett’s got to handle—or gets his hands on—both the killer and the mansion’s two elusive beauties, who seem invisible to everyone but Garrett!

256 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published June 6, 1989

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About the author

Glen Cook

198 books3,285 followers
Glen Cook was born in New York City, lived in southern Indiana as a small child, then grew up in Northern California. After high school he served in the U.S. Navy and attended the University of Missouri. He worked for General Motors for 33 years, retiring some years ago. He started writing short stories in 7th grade, had several published in a high school literary magazine. He began writing with malicious intent to publish in 1968, eventually producing 51 books and a number of short fiction pieces.
He met his wife of 43 years while attending the Clarion Writer's Workshop in 1970. He has three sons (army officer, architect, orchestral musician) and numerous grandchildren, all of whom but one are female. He is best known for his Black Company series, which has appeared in 20+ languages worldwide. His other series include Dread Empire and and the Garrett, P.I. series. His latest work is Working God’s Mischief, fourth in the Instrumentalities of the Night series.

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5 stars
1,004 (35%)
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1,212 (43%)
3 stars
511 (18%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 115 reviews
February 21, 2022
Actual rating: 4.5 stars.

Review to come in another life. Hopefully.

· Book 1: Sweet Silver Blues ★★★★
· Book 2: Bitter Gold Hearts ★★★★
· Book 3: Cold Copper Tears ★★★★
· Book 5: Dread Brass Shadows ★★★★
· Book 6: Red Iron Nights ★★★★★
· Book 7: Deadly Quicksilver Lies ★★★★★
· Book 8: Petty Pewter Gods ★★★
· Book 9: Faded Steel Heat ★★★
· Book 10: Angry Lead Skies ★★★★
· Book 11: Whispering Nickel Idols ★★★★
· Book 12: Cruel Zinc Melodies ★★★★
· Book 13: Gilded Latten Bones ★★★★
· Book 14: Wicked Bronze Ambition ★★★
Profile Image for Choko.
1,196 reviews2,583 followers
October 30, 2020
Short, but with a punch 👊!

*** 4.65

Another awesome addition to the series! This time we have an in-house who-done-it and everyone is a suspect. None of the previously prevalent vampires, forgotten g-ds or killer wizards. A more traditional and cosy mystery, but we get a more contemplative Garrett, who as always, gets roped into repaying a favor to an old comrade in arms, and gets in the middle of a murder spree...

I love this series and it is always a pleasure getting back into Garrett's head. Highly recommend it to all detective classic fans, who can re-imagine their hard-living P.I 's in a fantasy world full of gnomes, trolls, elves and all imaginable creatures. I hope you give it a try😀!
Profile Image for Bookwraiths.
698 reviews1,041 followers
June 16, 2013
A creepy house, a dying General, his strange but beautiful daughter, and a series of petty theft. Just the place our favorite fantasy P.I. for hire finds himself having to visit to pay off a debt owed to his old army sergeant. But naturally, once Garrett arrives, the small favor turns into a major job, because the simple investigation takes a turn for the worst with a hauntingly, beautiful spirit appearing and a series of unexplained murders breaking out. And the worst part is Garrett didn't get paid a large enough upfront fee to cover all this!

What is a sentimental but street smart p.i. to do in such a situation? Why dig in deeper if you are Garrett - even when you find out things you'd rather never have known.

Great book. Several Goodreads friends had said this was one of the best Garrett stories if not the best, and I have to agree with their wisdom. Highly recommend this one for an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Kevin.
1,500 reviews34 followers
August 1, 2017
Not a nero wolfe homage as the Dead Man stays dead to the world until the final scenes, this one's all Garrett and Morely in a country manor like Christie's "And Then There Were None". Of course it's a fantasy so there is a lot more going on then would in a normal mystery.

This fourth volume in the series is where Cook really starts to shine, this is by far my favorite volume so far, I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

reread 8/1/17 Just as good as the first time I read it.
Profile Image for Elena Linville.
Author 1 book57 followers
February 4, 2022
 This is just as good on second read as it was the first time, though the story is a bit different than the previous three books. We have a bit of a closed room mystery here, since the story is set in a remote house with only a limited number people living in it, thus limiting the number of suspects... or at least that's how it would work in theory, but with Garrett's luck, it's never that simple.

This book is also darker and more gruesome than the previous installments, even though Garrett's trademark sarcastic humor is still present. I think it's just the bleak atmosphere of the house and the grounds around it that contributed to this hopelessness that permeates the story. Everything and everybody seems washed out like an old photograph, like they are already part of the past with no place in the present and no future at all. And kudos to Mr. Cook for creating this atmosphere with his descriptions, because I really felt it - the permanent chill, the hopelessness, the regret, even the hint of madness that permeates this place.

In habitual Garrett fashion, he is hired to find a thief and maybe a poisoner, and ends up unraveling some pretty ugly family secrets. There are no saints in this story, and most characters have rather ugly sides. Honestly, the only one I really mourned the loss of is Brandon Snake, the unfortunate soul who had the talent to see beneath the veil of the ordinary and capture the very essence of people. Ultimately, this talent got him killed, and the world is a little dimmer for it.

I'm glad Morley was in for the ride on this one, because reading their dialogue is pure delight. And even though some really gruesome things happen in this book, the mystery itself was very fun to follow. Watching Garrett's bull in a China shop approach is always amusing. 

I would have to add that I had guessed pretty early on who the killer was, but I guess I can understand Garrett's selective blindness in this case. Oh, and it would have been fun to introduce Cook to Dean.

Anyway, on to the next book in the series, since my goal is to re-read them all by the end of 2022!
Profile Image for C.T. Phipps.
Author 73 books584 followers
January 29, 2023
The Garrett PI books by Glen Cook are my discovery of 2022 and I absolutely love them. A noir detective series set in a high fantasy world with gnomes, ogres, elves, and magic, Garrett just wants to get laid as well as do as little work as possible. With the exception of the first book's ending, I've yet to find anything to complain about. OLD TIN SORROWS takes it a step further and is easily the best book of the series I've read so far and may be one of my favorite fantastic noir books ever.

Garrett is invited by an old war buddy to investigate the mysterious health decline of a superior officer. Journeying the old man's mansion, Garrett finds a creepy house full of dark secrets and a mysterious woman stalking Garrett. The ending of the book is a genuine tragedy and I absolutely loved the slow methodical build-up to it.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,919 reviews10.6k followers
December 16, 2009
Garrett gets hired by the aid of an aging millionaire general to find out who's poisoning him and gets a lot more than he bargained for. The general's heirs keep dropping like flies and what part, if any, does a mysterious woman in white only Garrett can see play in things?

While I enjoyed this entry in the Garrett Files, it's not as good as the previous two. The first third of the story moves really slowly and most of the general's heirs are little more than cardboard targets for the killer. I did enjoy Morely Dotes's part in things, as well as the return of Djongo and the grolls.

To sum up, I wasn't as enamored with this Garrett Files book as I was the previous two but it's still entertaining and I'm looking forward to the next one.
Profile Image for Keith .
351 reviews7 followers
September 23, 2021
Garrett's sergeant from the war calls in a blood debt owed to him. Someone is stealing from his employer and they may be doing worse things. Madness, hauntings, supernatural undead beings and incredible plot twists comprise a very good, but very sad in the end, story. This one left a little darkness behind. It was quite moving. In the end, well, Garrett was happier.
Profile Image for Nataliia.
70 reviews3 followers
April 18, 2023
It is predictable. Reader's focus shift was more successful in the previous book.
Profile Image for Melissa McShane.
Author 60 books743 followers
February 1, 2019
I was going to go into the details of why I chose to re-read this when I have a huge pile of never-before-read books on my bedside cabinet, but it's too long a story and probably not interesting. Enough to say I picked it up because it intersected with the book I'm currently writing and went from being a passing reference to something more intrinsic to the plot. Today I took a break from writing to finish it--and found I couldn't go back to writing immediately. That's how good it is.

On the surface, this is a simple hard-boiled detective/murder mystery story. Garrett, long-suffering P.I. in the fantasy city of TunFaire, gets a visit from his old Marine sergeant Peters. Peters works for a general who's been ill for a long time; Peters suspects someone is trying to kill the old man, who is not a very nice person, but the General hates doctors and won't even let one near him. So Peters wants Garrett to investigate, secretly, under the guise of trying to find out who's been stealing from the estate. When Garrett arrives, he discovers a couple of things, chief among them the fact that the General's will splits his fortune among his retainers. But what no one's seemed to figure out is that those retainers are mysteriously disappearing or turning up dead. So that's three crimes, all of which may be interrelated, most of which Garrett didn't count on.

That's all on the surface. Boiling beneath it is a stew of resentment, anger, betrayal, vengeance, and thwarted hopes, and that's where the story gets really good. Garrett's method is to charge in like a bull and stomp around until the villain screws up. That doesn't work here. In fact, of all fourteen Garrett novels, this is arguably the only one in which Garrett fails to solve the mystery in time for it to matter at all. This gives the novel a feel of desperation and fear that intensifies as more characters die and more mysteries become apparent. As I approached the end, even though I knew what was coming, tension was still my constant companion. It's an ending that takes several sequels to finally come to terms with.

It's fair to ask why this is my second favorite of the series (after Wicked Bronze Ambition, which is similarly tense and emotionally overwhelming) when it is so unbelievably bleak. I think some of that is how true it all feels. People staying staunchly loyal to a rotten old man even when they know better. A daughter so screwed up by her father's choices she . The secret of the old man's dead wife . The characters' actions are really extreme--not the sort of thing that ordinary people do--but within this story, it all feels reasonable and right. And some of it is simply that the ending is the more cathartic for coming after so many horrors. But overall I'd say that I love it because it's heartbreaking.

It is a little weird to read the ending and know that . And there's no way the story can end cheerfully. But it's a satisfying ending to a book that never fails to stick with me.
Profile Image for Gilbert Stack.
Author 61 books52 followers
February 26, 2019
Garrett’s old sergeant calls in a favor to make everyone’s favorite fantasy detective find out who’s trying to murder an already dying General Stanton. Stanton’s a lot like General Sternwood in The Big Sleep. He’s tough but likable in his final days of life, sitting next to a roaring fire because he doesn’t generate enough heat to keep his body warm on its own. He looks like he’s mere days from croaking on his own but is his poor health the result of a rare tropical disease caught in the service or an exotic poison? It doesn’t help that the General doesn’t like doctors and won’t cooperate in trying to save his life.

As to motive? There’s a will that gives half of the General’s estate to his daughter and splits the remaining half between several long term retainers most of whom served under the General in the war. Suspicions that someone is trying to knock the General off are strengthened by the growing number of his retainers that have met an unexpected end—shrinking the pool of inheritors and growing everyone’s share of the estate. There’s also a woman (isn’t there always a woman in a Garrett novel) who is sneaking around the General’s home and nobody but Garrett admits to being able to see her. The only thing really going for Garrett as he tries to investigate this tight-mouthed group of suspects is that the pool of potential killers is diminishing so rapidly.

Old Tin Sorrows shows us a different aspect of Garrett. He’s ten miles outside of the city for almost the entire book so he has to depend on his own wits and a little bit of help from his friend, Morley Dotes, to solve the crime. The Dead Man is simply not available to make connections or suggest courses of action. As the story progresses and the tension grows tauter it begins to look like Garrett isn’t up to the task.

It’s always hard to evaluate the mystery of a novel you’ve read a couple of times before but I think Cook does a pretty good job with this one. At times Garrett seems to be a little slow, but if we recall he’s getting no sleep and is under a lot of strain, I’m not sure it’s fair to hold that against him. There are a couple of nice surprises toward the end and the portrait of Eleanor becomes a fixture in later novels, so this is not a book that is forgotten as the series progresses.

If you liked this review, you can find more at www.gilbertstack.com/reviews.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,011 reviews39 followers
July 20, 2015
Glen Cook is one of my favorite authors. Old Tin Sorrows is a great read. Old Tin Sorrows is the fourth book in the Garrett Files collection. Garrett is a tough ex-marine, private investigator in the mold of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer. The series is set in a fantasy world that has faeries, trolls, sorcerers, wizards,elves and humans living in one city. Garrett's adviser is "the Dead Man" who is really not a man at all and isn't exactly dead. Old Tin Sorrows is arguably the darkest volume in Glen Cook's Garrett, P.I. series but it is a murder mystery set in a haunted house so that is to be expected. Garrett solves the murders in his typical and self described way, "by stirring things up like a bull in a china shop". He also enlists the help of some of his friends. A must read for fans of Glen Cook.
Profile Image for Bryan Thomas Schmidt.
Author 49 books151 followers
March 15, 2012
I really enjoyed my first Glen Cook. Which is good, since he's a friend of mine. This was not what I expected from a PI book, which is because it's original but the one struggle was the world building. The author obviously established this world in prior books but his assumption that we'd pick it up was a bit ambitious. I found it confusing because I never got a real sense of the world at large. The story is set on a large estate and thus, we never see the world outside of it. So that's partly the nature of the story. But as an entry point in this series, I found myself a bit confused as to what era or period this world relates to in our own world's history. And thus, had trouble grounding myself with it. That aside, the characters are well developed as was the mystery. And the pacing was good as well as the humor. A solid read. Recommended.
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,733 reviews648 followers
July 29, 2013
This is, for me, one of Cook's best Garrett novels. Why? It begins with a wonderful homage to Chandler's classic, the Big Sleep. That book, if you recall, begins with Marlowe entering the Sternwood mansion and being taken to the greenhouse where General Sternwood resides. Chandler captures (and foreshadows) in a few sentences the desperation and decay that has permeated the Sternwood clan. Garrett is much like Marlowe, a knight errant and a soldier in battle against lost causes. He is called to help a celebrated General under whom he once served.

Garrett is without his friend, The Dead Man, but Morley and Saucerhead are brought in when desperation demands it. This book, at its core, is a unique noir ghost story that slowly builds momentum until the final fifty pages crash into a satisfying resolution.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,493 reviews959 followers
July 27, 2011
I loved the nod to Raymond Chandler with the introduction of the old and sick general with a heat penchant, a huge house and a wayward daughter. Later , Cook goes his own way , weaving the noir atitude with the high fantasy / supernatural setting.
Garrett remains in top form with his snarky remarks, a bunch of his friends put in cameo roles, the ladies exert the same fatal attraction.
The series lost a little steam in the investigative department, where Garrett is more clueless than usual and the bodycount gets a tad out of control.
But I'm looking forward to more adventures of our beer swilling flatfoot.
Profile Image for Pye Josephus Joestar.
37 reviews2 followers
April 20, 2019
phenomenal book, I enjoyed everything in this one. This one reminded me of those old tropes of the rich family sends out invitations to everybody to come to the mansion and is offered a ton of money if they stay one night in the mansion, of course it's a bit more complicated than that. The fact that the Dead Man isn't really in this book to help Garrett along made it more enticing to read for some reason. And the end definitely gave me some feels as the mystery unfolds. some interesting and humorous banter between Morely and Garrett as well. Highly recommend this one to people that are into crime novels that involve that "who dunnit" aspect.
5,870 reviews130 followers
May 20, 2019
Old Tin Sorrows is the fourth book in the Garrett P.I. series written by Glen Cook and centered on the adventures of private investigator Garrett.

Garrett is approached by his old marine sergeant, Blake Peters, who calls in an old Marine Corps debt to get Garrett to investigate the mysterious illness afflicting his current employer, General Stantnor. Garrett moves into the Stantnor mansion, to find that only a handful of individuals still inhabit the property and keep it from crumbling into ruin.

As Garrett begins his investigation, an unknown individual begins murdering the few remaining members of the household. When some of the recently murdered individuals come back from the dead and attack the living house guests, Garrett calls upon his good friend Morley Dotes for backup.
As the focus of Garrett's investigation switches to solving the ongoing murders, he continues to be distracted by two elusive beauties seen around the house: one is the general's daughter Jennifer, but the other can only be seen by Garrett, who suspects that she may in fact be a ghost.

Old Tin Sorrows is written rather well. Cook takes Garrett out of his comfort zone in TunFaire as almost all action takes place in an old countryside estate, which makes the narrative rather different. All the elements are framed tremendously well and makes for an enjoyable, albeit a dark mystery with a paranormal twist.

All in all, Old Tin Sorrows is written rather well and is a good continuation to what would hopefully be a wonderful series, which I plan to continue in the very near future.
Author 1 book4 followers
December 21, 2018
По сюжету похоже на "10 негритят" Агаты Кристи. "And then there was one." В этой книге как раз детектива больше чем приключений, поэтому эта часть мне больше понравилась, чем предыдущая. Практически всё действие происходит в одном доме, нет никаких путешествий в разные места. Самая мрачная книжка из четырёх.

Ключевые слова (сплошные спойлеры):

* Мрачное поместье (Stantnor House)
* Сумасшедшая дочь (Jennifer)
* Призрак её матери (Eleanor)
* Старик, который оказывается чуть ли не главным злодеем (General Stantnor)
* Сумасшедший художник, который умел смотреть вглубь вещей и заодно был главным телохранителем некроманта, что тоже сыграло свою роль.
* "Дворецкий", который воровал вещи, чтобы вести хозяйство
* Почти все персонажи – морские пехотинцы, примерно все умерли (убил мертвец; свалился с верхнего этажа; задушили и закололи его же ножом; убило упавшим доспехом, etc.)
* Doctor Doom с цирком и тройняшками
* Draugs – мертвецы, которые хотели отомстить
* Няня, которой 400 лет и которая сначала неправильно посчитала количество живущих в поместье людей. Потому что "если я не сосредотачиваюсь, я не могу сказать, в каком я времени".

С нормальным словарём читать оказалось гораздо проще. Сложно было только понимать описание плана дома, по которому главный герой ходит. И в описании заговора родителей Элеоноры тоже не всё понятно было.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for PyranopterinMo.
304 reviews
May 13, 2020
Two stars. One for the cover art. The only interesting character is the half troll cook and she is more interesting on the cover. Half a star for the writing and half for the museum grade sexist jokes because it can be a bit surprising what people though was funny in the late eighties.
This is a murder mystery of the kind where all the suspects get murdered one at a time. The setting is a fantasy world. Neither is interesting. There are plenty of interesting mysteries and imaginative fantasy writers and Cook is neither in this story. Only one character is interesting and not very. The humor is rather limited as well. The main character, the detective, liked beer, doesn't like to work, and thinks he is interesting to women. His detective work involved mostly finding bodies and talking to the cook. The technical stuff is outsourced and there is virtually no magic, a few monsters, and one estate that includes a graveyard, swamp, stable, etc.
I wrote off reading Glenn Cook long ago, no idea if I finished anything by him, but this book was lying around and free. The cover says humor but it's not very funny, The story is tolerable. I liked several fantasy authors who started writing in the late eighties so perhaps I was checking Cook's writing one last time.
Profile Image for Natalia.
7 reviews19 followers
July 26, 2018
So... yeah, there were lots of corpses. But in a good kind of way, you know? it made sense. It added a good rhythm to the story and at some point you just roll with it.

This is a great example of a fast-paced, engaging detective story -- and this is probably my favourite Garrett P.I. installment. It has basically anything you could dream of: ghosts, intrigues, unresolved stories from the past that will quite literally come back to bite the wrongdoers. Preferably with a pitchfork.
A classic revenge story, but a very heartbreaking one as well.

To be honest, I was a bit scared sometimes while reading this, the suspense was almost palpable. It was an emotional read but I think it only proves that the atmosphere was built very convincingly. Even if it means you are too scared to turn the page.
(or click on your ebook reader, but it doesn't sound that well)

All in all, I really enjoy this book and I think it's one that makes you reflect on life a bit. That we have lots of emotions that can turn really nasty. That - as cliche as it may sound - hurt people hurt other people. And that it's important to notice and acknowledge others' wounds.
Profile Image for Jane Mercer.
263 reviews1 follower
February 20, 2018
Cook has slowed pace for this the fourth of the Garrett books.
Hired by an old sergeant from Army days to investigate who is trying to kill his employer, using the cover of investigating the theft of trinkets at the same time.
Garrett goes to stay at the Stantnor Place to investigate, what he finds is confusing and perplexing to him.
(Once I got the cast of characters I had the murderer and something glaringly obvious but not the thief)
It is an entertaining case which Garrett solves with the help of Morley Dotes his half dark elf friend, and Dr Doom (no relation to the Marvel character)
Profile Image for Psychophant.
486 reviews19 followers
May 8, 2023
I had to reread the previous three Garrett books, as I had forgotten the plots and even some recurring characters. But I remembered well the noir setting, how well it fits with Cook’s curt and precise characterization, and using the tropes of fantasy to subvert the expectations of the typical P. I. stories.

This is for me one of the best, with Garrett mostly working with his powerful friends and contacts, and showing true feeling. I realized in this one that the main character is also evolving, and that he is becoming more complex.

A good mystery and a great story.
Profile Image for Scott Waldie.
629 reviews2 followers
July 2, 2017
A little more of a straight whodunnit for the Garrett, P.I. series, but despite the solid writing and a few differences from the normal formula, I feel like the series is already wearing a little thin on me and I might not make it through. I just greatly prefer his Black Company and Instrumentalities stuff.
Profile Image for Gio C.
245 reviews
July 17, 2018
This was another good one. I liked it a lot because Garret gets away from the usual scene. He's kind of stuck in one place and is forced to solve this mystery on his own. There is a fresh new set of characters and while the old ones are sill around they only make a short cameo. It was a short one but well worth the read. I look forward to see what is in stall for Garret next.
Profile Image for Kelly Stark.
26 reviews1 follower
November 24, 2018
Bleak but Satisfying

You have to have read enough Garret to have developed an attachment for this to work. But for me, it worked very well. Both Garret and Morley are different in this one. But it’s a difference explained by the circumstances. Good read.
1,507 reviews8 followers
August 5, 2019
Catching up before cataract surgery. Such a fun series with sci-fi - fantasy - supernatural elements and an old style detective who is in trouble with his girlfriend / the mob / the dead and just about everyone else.
Profile Image for Tamp_kh.
790 reviews3 followers
December 31, 2019
В какой-то момент напомнило "10 негритят" Агаты Криста. Наверное, неотвратимостью новых смертей, потому что Кук в этой книге умерщвляет людей не то, что по расписанию, а даже чаще. Но в результате общее впечатление было не таким, каким могло бы быть...
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
241 reviews1 follower
July 21, 2020
Okay; rather Jacobean-feeling tontine affair--the cover features a bigger version of the Linda Lavin type from a previous one, dressed in trashy clothes and staring at the protagonist man. She is almost too big for him, but it's an improvement on the odd-sized 'tomatoes' on previous covers
15 reviews
July 25, 2020
A very good read. It can be revised so that it could be a modern or distant human tale, not remain simply a fantasy novel. Very well written. Would make a great movie, in any genre! No spoilers. You need to read, and just it by and for yourself.
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