Author: Terry Pratchett
Publisher: Harper Torch
Genre: Fantasy, mystery, satire
Warnings: Brief nudity, bad summary
Preceded by Guards, Guards, followed by Feet of Clay
Days before his marriage and subsequent retirement from the night watch, Captain Samuel Vimes is faced with a set of new recruits hired because of species, not aptitude, a series of murders apparently connected only by an unidentifiable murder weapon, and the possibility that he might be next on the list. To top it all off, he's been explicitly ordered by the Patrician to leave things alone. But this is his last case, and Vimes just can't let it go that easily.
This was the first Pratchett book I actually read cover to cover, and it introduced me to one of my all-time favorite characters: Sam Vimes, who is basically Batman only not, and manages to be all the more awesome because of that.
"I'd like a couple of eggs," said Vimes, "with the yolks real hard but the whites so runny that they drip like treacle. And I want bacon, that special bacon all covered with bony nodules and dangling bits of fat. And a slice of fried bread. The kind that makes your arteries go clang just by looking at it."
"Tough order," said Harga.
"You managed it yesterday. And give me some more coffee. Black as midnight on a moonless night."
Harga looked surprised. That wasn't like Vimes.
"How black's that, then?" he said.
"Oh, pretty damn black, I should think."
"You get more stars on a moonless night. Stands to reason. They show up more. It can be quite bright on a moonless night."
"An overcast moonless night?" he said.
Harga looked carefully at his coffee pot.
"Cumulus or cirro-numbus?"
"I'm sorry? What did you say?"
"You gets city lights reflected off cumulus, because it's low lying, see. Minds you, you can get high-altitude scatter off the ice crystals in---"
"A moonless night," said Vimes, in a hollow voice, "that is as black as that coffee."
"And a doughnut." Vimes grabbed Harga's stained vest and pulled him until they were nose to nose. "A doughnut as doughnutty as a doughnut made of flour, water, one large egg, sugar, a pinch of yeast, cinnamon to taste, and a jam, jelly or rat filling depending on national or species preference, OK? Not as doughnutty as something in any way metaphorical. Just a doughnut. One doughnut."
"You only had to say."
Harga brushed off his vest, gave Vimes a hurt look, and went back into the kitchen.