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Bitter Gold Hearts

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Bitter Gold Hearts (1988) Glen Cook (Garrett P.I.)

Bitter Gold HeartsI obviously read this before, because there were passages underlined and I have a review for it.

I didn’t remember anything about it though, except that it was a fantasy take on a noir PI, which I generally adore. (See Simon Green‘s Nightside)

Garrett is asked to consult on a case where an heir of the Stormwarden has been kidnapped. But they don’t want Garrett to mediate between the family and the kidnappers, they just want to talk to him and make sure they are doing everything correctly.

“He has a good question, Domina.” I’d been working up to it when he burst in. “Why bring me in when the kidnappers said don’t tell anybody? A man with my reputation, and you sent out what amounted to a platoon of clowns, with the girl dressed flashy enough to catch a blind man’s eye. It’s not likely the kidnappers won’t hear about it.”

Nothing goes as planned.

The mystery was fine. The world building was interesting.

But.

This was written in 1988, which is obvious from the cover. (ie, HER HAIR. Obviously this fantasy world has Aquanet.) It’s also obvious to some degree in the writing. That is the casual misogyny and sexism.

To be far, a lot of that is expected when you’re writing a 1950s style noir detective: the hard drinking and the womanizing especially. But there was one bit that I don’t remember from the first time I read it (natch) but was somewhat disturbing this time around.

“You guys got any reason to hang around?”

Crask was leaning against a wall, watching the witch. He said, “Yeah.” He pointed. “Her.” He meant [female bad character]. “Chodo wants her. When you’re done with her. If she’s still breathing.”

“What for?”

“An ornament. Like the broads that hang around the pool. He thinks she’d be interesting, all he’s heard.”

“I see.” I liked an aspect of the idea. I examined my conscience. Better than killing her. Maybe. “It’s all right with me. Take her now.”

then

I didn’t recognize her at first. When I did, I was startled.

This wasn’t the [female character] I’d known so briefly. Not the [female character]who had been so tough on that farm. This [female character]had been broken down and rebuilt. She looked as eager to please as a puppy.

Chodo noticed my surprise. He looked me in the eye and smiled. His smile was like Crask’s. That was like looking Death in the face and having him grin. “A gift, Mr. Garrett. Not to be considered for the favor I owe. Just a token of my esteem. She’s quite tame now. Quite pliable. I have no more use for her. I thought you might. Take her.”

That is really fucking disturbing.

Publisher: Ace
Rating: 6/10

Categories: eBook, Fantasy, Mystery, Private Eye, Reread

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