Two cases in the life of Miro Hetzel, Galactic Effectuator - a private eye. "A clever man, with the soul of a nomad and pretentions beyond his class" as one of his clients says when he tries to crick up his fees. The son of an engineer and a Gael from the Isle of Skye on Old Earth, he 'does' cases for well-off clients with large and strange problems.
The first of the two told cases to us here is about high-tech materials emanating from a planet where *any* tech is forbidden, as the local species, the Gomaz, are ferocious warriors who once almost conquered known space. Three species, including humans, oversee the planet from a single occupied city. At a session of the occupying powers, where Hetzel is about to raise pertinent questions, two of the commissars are murdered - but not all is what it seems.
The second case concerns an old schoolmate of Hetzel's (with a personality at times reminiscent of one of the Devil's Princes, I thought), who is thought to be responsible for the theft of some vital parts of a wealthy socialite - his wedding tackle, to put it politely. Hetzel's old contacts are useful in tracing the culprit, who is very good at disappearing.
I thought the first case, the longer one, was excellent, while the second one was rather solution-driven. But as usual it is not so much the storyline as the atmosphere and Vance's dry observations on human peculiarities that keep us (well, me) spellbound.