This is one of my favorite novels. It was written by Harry Harrison, who died this morning.
I’m going to pitch this book to my readers, as it seems an appropriate form of memorial:
Slippery Jim DiGriz -conman, thief, stainless steel rat in the wainscoting of society- is seeking the man responsible for the death of his dear friend and mentor, the Bishop. In tracking down this individual, Jim learns that the killer is a high ranking officer in a military force, soon to leave for destinations unknown.
Jim is something of a pacifist despite his desire for revenge and so it is ironic that he finds himself infiltrating the military to get close to the killer. Soon he is being shipped out with the troops to an entire planet of pacifists: a rich world, without any military to defend itself against the huge invading army.
However, they now have a most formidable defense: one Slippery Jim DiGriz, whose outrageous and cunning schemes soon has the military wondering what happened to their plan for a decisive conquest.
Neil Gaiman writes here about having met and interviewed Harry.
And here is a page to post condolences or memories.