Where's Your Book Today?

That's what people always say to me at work, if I don't have a book or my PDA or my eBookwise Reader with me at lunch. I love to read and I guess it's obvious. So many books, so little time...and so much dust in my apartment.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Dead Beat" by Jim Butcher

Oh, I love this series! If you like Urban Fantasy, you've really got to look into these books.

I discovered Jim Butcher and his "Dresden Files" books only in the last year, so I had the particular joy of being able to gorge on the seven books already published in a fairly short period of time.

I think "Dead Beat" is the best so far. I gave it a 5 out of 5 on my very subjective scale, and looking back, I see I gave five of the books that grade. Did I say I really love this series?

I would strongly recommend that, if you haven't read any of Butcher's world, you start with "Storm Front." Each book build on the previous books, and I can't help but think you'd know you're missing a lot of backstory if you start with "Dead Beat."

Harry Dresden is a private investigator...and a wizard. He's not the only wizard in Chicago, but he's the only one who openly admits it to a cynical and unbelieving human world. To those who have come to know that the things that go bump in the night are frightenly real, Harry offers his services. He works as a sometimes consultant with a "Special Investigations" department of the Chicago PD.

To other practitioners of white magic, Harry is a loose cannon. To the black magicians...well, they either want to turn him to the dark side or they want to kill him. Maybe both.

Harry's world is one in which vampires, werewolves, fairies, zombies, ghouls, and goblins are real. And this is no one-dimension world Butcher has built...there are various Courts of vampires, each with its own method of interacting with its prey. Some of the werewolves are evil, some just trying to get along in the world. The "good guys" might be good, they might be selfish, they might misuse magic to suit their own purposes. And sometimes the bad guys have less than entirely evil motivations. It all combines to make life damned complicated for Harry.

Harry reacts to the world with a combination of wise-ass cynicism and old-world chivalry. I cannot read these books in public without someone sooner or later asking me what I'm chuckling about. Harry's sense of humor is a hoot. Here's a little sample from "Dead Beat" in which Harry is considering a book store owner's request for him not to come return to his store.

"Bock looked at me, his expression a little queasy. He wasn't an easy man to frighten, but he was no fool, either. I had wrecked three... no wait, four. No... at least four buildings during my cases in the last several years, and he didn't want [his bookstore] appended to the list. That hurt a little. Normals looked at me like I was insane when I told people I was a wizard. People who were in the know didn't look at me like I was insane. They looked at me like I was insanely dangerous."

In "Dead Beat," Harry gets blackmailed into looking for something called "The Word of Kemmler." As he begins his search, he discovers that all sorts of other baddies are looking for the same book...and have absolutely no qualms about killing him if he got in the way. Of course, that's pretty par for the course of Harry's life.

As Harry tries to protect his friends and the generally ignorant public from the growing evil, though, he realizes the trouble brewing in Chicago is more than he can handle alone. This is a real growth point for Harry, who has gone out of his way in previous books to try to take on as much as possible all by his lonesome. Of course, the help that arrives isn't exactly what he expects, and only serves to point out how dire the situation has become.

How Harry faces the bad guys will affect his life forever...and it's not clear whether his choices will lead him down that seductive "slipperly slope."

So go get a copy of "Storm Front" and start reading! "Proven Guilty" is book eight in the series - it comes out in hardback next month. I'm already on the reserve list at the library, but if eReader or Fictionwise offer it electronically, I'll probably be too weak to resist owning it now, now, now, rather than waiting a year for it to come out in paperback.


  • At 3:30 AM, Blogger Darla said…

    Hope you get Proven Guilty soon. It's even better. Yeah, I know, I didn't think that was possible either.

    Are you on the McAnally's email list? You might enjoy checking it out if you're not. McAnally's


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