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Authors: Glen Cook

Dread Brass Shadows

Dread Brass Shadows

Garrett P.I. Book 5

by Glen Cook

 

 

Somebody Had Lost A Lot Of Brass

and everyone wanted to find it. And now the stakes were getting so rich it made even a hard-boiled detective like Garrett nervous. Then the casualties began piling up, starting with Garrett's own beautiful red-haired girlfriend. Garrett was out to draw some blood in revenge—at least until two other redheads turned up at his front door . . . and until he found himself the center of unwelcome attention from every thug and would-be sorcerer in town.

Thats when he knew he'd have to find the prize everyone was after, the legendary Book of Shadows, made of brass and holding secrets no mortal was ever meant to master—and either sell it to the safest bidder or make sure no one ever had the chance to work its spells on his unsuspecting and unprotected world. . . .

 

Glen Cook

Dread Brass Shadows

 

ROC

A ROC Book published by New American Library, and the Penguin Group

 

Penguin Books USA Inc., 175 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Books Ltd., 27 Wrights Lane, London W8 5TZ, England

Penguin Books Australia Ltd., Ringwood, Victoria, Australia

Penguin Books Canada Ltd. 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontarion, Canada M4V 3B2

Penguin Books (n.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairan Road, Aukland 10, New Zeland

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Hammondsworth, Middlesex, England

 

First published by Roc, an imprint of Durton Signet, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc.

First Printing: May, 1990

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

This
ePub edition v1.0 by Dead^Man Jan, 2011

 

Copyright © Glen Cook 1990

Cover art by Tim Hildebrandt All rights reserved.

 

REGISTERED TRADEMARK

Printed in the United States

ISBN: 0-451-45008-6

 

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

 

BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE AT QUANTITY DISCOUNTS WHEN USED TO PROMOTE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES. FOR INFORMATION PLEASE WRITE TO PREMIUM MARKETING DIVISION, PENGUIN BOOKS USA INC, 175 HUDSON STREET, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10014

 

If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as "unsold and destroyed: to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this "stripped book."

 

1

 

Whew! The things I get me into!

We had snow hip deep to a tall mammoth for four weeks, then it turned suddenly hot and the whole mess melted quicker than you could say cabin fever. So I was out running and banging into people and things and falling on my face because the girls were out stretching their gorgeous gams and I hadn’t seen one leg, let alone two, since the snow started falling.

Running? Garrett? Yeah. All six feet two and two hundred pounds, poetry in motion. All right. Maybe it was bad poetry, doggerel, but I was getting the hang of it. In a few weeks I’d be back to the old lean and mean I’d been when I was twenty and a crack Marine. And pigs would be zooming around my ears like falcons.

Thirty isn’t old to somebody who’s fifty, but when you’ve spent a few years making a career of being lazy and the belly gets a little less than washboard and the knees start creaking and you start puffing and wheezing halfway up a flight of stairs, you feel like maybe you’ve skipped the twenty in between, or maybe just started spinning The digits over on the left-hand side. I had a bad case of got-to-do-something-about-this.

So I was out running. And admiring the scenery. And huffing and puffing and wondering if maybe I ought to forget it and sign myself into the Bledsoe cackle factory. It wasn’t a lot of fun.

Saucerhead bad the right idea. He sat on my front stoop with a pitcher Dean kept topped. Each time I lumbered past he got his exercise by throwing up fingers showing the number of laps I’d survived without a stroke.

People shoved me and cussed me, Macunado Street was belly button to elbow with dwarves and gnomes, ogres and imps, elves and whatever have you else, not to mention every human in the neighborhood There wasn’t room for pigeons to fly because the pixies and fairies were zipping and swooping overhead. Nobody in TunFaire was staying inside but the Dead Man. And he was awake for the first time in weeks, sharing the euphoria vicariously.

The whole damned city was on a peak high. Everybody was up. Even the ratmen were smiling

I churned around the corner at Wizard’s Reach, knees pumping and elbows flailing, gawking ahead in hopes that Saucerhead would be struck as dumb as he looks and would lose count, maybe a couple laps in my favor. No such luck. Well, some luck He showed me nine fingers and I figured he wasn’t lying much. Then he waved and pointed. Something he wanted me to see. I cut to the side, apologized to a couple of young lovers who didn’t even see me, bounced up the steps with all the spring of a wet sponge. I looked out over the crowd,

“Well.”

“Tinnie.”

“Yeah.” Well, indeed. My gal Tinnie Tate, professional redhead, She was still a block away but she was in her summer taunting gear, and wherever she walked, guys stopped and bounced their chins off their chests. She was hotter than a house afire and ten times as interesting. “There ought to be a law.”

“Probably is but who can keep his mind on legalities?” I gave Saucerhead a raised eyebrow. That wasn’t his style.

Tinnie was in her early twenties, a little bit of a thing but with hips that were amply ample and mounted on gimbals. She had breasts that would make a dead bishop jump up and howl at the moon. She had lots of long red hair. The breeze threw it around wilder than I suddenly hoped I might in about five minutes if I could run off Saucerhead and Dean and get the Dead Man to take a nap.

She saw me gaping and panting and threw up a hand hello and every guy in Macunado Street hated me instantly. I sneered at them for their trouble.

“I don’t know how you do it, Garrett,” Saucerhead said. “Ugly dink like you, manners like a water buffalo. I just don’t know.” My pal. He got up. Sensitive guy, Saucerhead Tharpe. He could tell right away when a guy wanted to be alone with his girl. Or maybe he was just going to head her off and warn her she was wasting her time on an ugly dink like me.

Ugly? A vile slander. My face has gotten pushed around some over the years, but it has all the right parts in approximately all the right places. I can stand to look at it in a mirror, except maybe on the morning after. It’s got character.

As I grabbed my mug and took a long drink, just to replace fluids, a dark-skinned, weaselly little guy with black hair and a pencil-stroke mustache grabbed Tinnie’s chin with his left hand. His other hand was behind her, out of sight, but I never doubted what he was doing.

Neither did Saucerhead. He let out a bellow like a wounded bison and flew off the stoop. His boots never touched the steps. I was right behind him yowling like a saber-tooth with his tail on fire, eyes teared up so I couldn’t see who I was trampling.

I didn’t run into anybody, though. Saucerhead broke trail. Bodies flew out of his way. It didn’t matter if they were two feet tall or ten. Nothing stops Saucerhead when he’s mad. Stone walls barely slow him down.

Tinnie was down when we got there. People were clearing out. Nobody wanted to be near the girl with the knife in her back, especially not with two madmen roaring around.

Saucerhead never slowed down. I did. I dropped to one knee beside Tinnie. She looked up. She didn’t look like she was hurting, just kind of sad. There were tears in her eyes. She reached up with one hand. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t ask anything. My throat wouldn’t let me.

Maybe it was our bellowing. He squatted down. “I’ll take her inside, Mr. Garrett. Maybe His Nibs can help. You do what you have to do.”

I grunted something that was more of a moan than anything, lifted Tinnie into his frail old arms He was no muscleman, but he managed I took off after Saucerhead.

 

 

2

 

Tharpe had a block lead but I gained ground fast. I wasn’t thinking. He was. He was pacing himself, matching the assassin’s stride, maybe following to see where he led. I didn’t care about that. I didn’t care about anything. I didn’t look around to see what else was happening on the street. I wanted that blademan so bad I could taste blood.

I came churning up beside Saucerhead. He grabbed my shoulder, slowed me down, kept squeezing till the pain took the red out of my eyes. When he had my attention he made a couple of gestures, pointed.

I got it. First time, too. Must be getting smarter as I age.

The skinny guy didn’t know his way around. He was just trying to get away. There aren’t many straight streets in old TunFaire. They wander like they were laid out by drunken goblins blinded by the sun. This character was sticking to Macunado Street even though we had passed the point where it changes its name to Way of the Harlequin and then again to Dadville Lane after it narrows down.

“I’m gone.” I cut out to the right, into an alley, through, darted down a narrow lane, ducked into a breezeway, skipped over some ratmen wasted on weed and a couple of blitzed human winos, then blasted out into Dadville Lane again, where it finishes the big, lazy loop around the Memorial Quarters. I chugged across the street and leaned against a hitching rail, waiting, puffing, and wheezing and grinning because boy, was I in shape for this.

I was ready to dump my guts.

And here they came The gink with the mustache was going all out, scared to death, trying so hard he wasn’t seeing anything. All he knew was the pounding feet were catching up.

I let him come, stepped out, tripped him. He flew headlong, rolled like he had some tumbling experience, came up going full speed—wham! Right into the end of a watering trough. His momentum kept his top half going. He made a fine big splash.

Saucerhead got on one side of the trough I got on the other. Tharpe slapped my hand away. Probably that was best. I was too upset.

He grabbed that gink by his greasy black hair, pushed him under, pulled him up, said, “Winded as you are, you ain’t gonna hold your breath long.” He shoved the mustache under again, pulled him up. “That water’s going to get cold going down. You’re going to feel it going and know there ain’t one damned thing you can do to stop it.” The big louse was barely puffing. The guy in the trough was wheezing and snorting worse than me.

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