Book Review: Whispering Nickel Idols by Glen Cook

Format:  Paperback, First Edition, 2005

Pages:  368

Reading Time:  about 3 months*


In my previous review of a Glen Cook book, Angry Lead Skies, I revealed that though I love the Garrett P.I. series, another stinker will see me walking away from Glen Cook’s writing. Well, I guess I better buy some good shoes, because I am indeed abandoning this series after struggling through Whispering Nickel Idols.

In all fairness, this book isn’t quite as bad as the last one. It does feel like it could have been written by Mr. Cook. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to make me want to go out and buy Cruel Zinc Melodies. Maybe he’s tired, or bored with this series, or needs money…I have no idea what Mr. Cook thinks or feels. But it sure feels like he’s mailing it in, so to speak.

Garrett has been reduced to a shell of himself in this book. He has a brush with death that relegates him to a minor character about halfway through the book, and he feels like an observer the rest of the way through. It’s obvious Cook wanted Garrett to change after the P.I.’s near-death experience…the detective spends more time with Tinnie Tate, sits on the sidelines, and is always one step behind everyone else until the end of the book. He whines and complains more than usual – about people, the weather, his beer, but most of all about his finances. At one point I was questioning how this guy could be considered a detective at all since he couldn’t figure anything out without help.

The most glaring problem with the book, however, is that it just isn’t very compelling. I said it in my last review and I’ll repeat it here: what I enjoy about the Garrett novels are compelling mysteries, twists and turns, minor skirmishes, big dust-ups, sexual tension, and a tremendous dose of tongue-in-cheek humor mixed with sarcasm and wit. There’s a little bit of these elements here and there throughout the book, but not enough to satisfy me. I kept thinking, “where’s the action, the suspense, the mystery, the humor?”

*My favorite time to read is when I’m headed for bed – a relaxing, quiet time to turn pages for an hour. Some books I stay up longer to read, because I just can’t stop turning the pages. With this book, I could barely make it through a chapter without falling asleep. Every day for 3 months. And were talking chapter sizes of 1-3 pages long. That’s why I have nicknamed this book, ‘The Book That Almost Killed My Blog.” I have vowed to read only one book at a time and finish every book, but Whispering Nickel Idols nearly made me break that vow.

So with that said, I part ways with Glen Cook. It’s a sad day, but I do have fond memories of the previous books in this series, as well as the Black Company books. Now, however, I’m looking forward to other adventures…

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