Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dresden Files 01: Storm Front (Butcher, Jim)

Rating: 5
Year: 2000
Genre: Fantasy
Read again? Yup.

This'll be my third time through the Dresden series, and it's a pleasure--more so because of the rash of crappy "Star Trek" I recently ingested. You'll find most of them listed in the "2/5" category. Just make a note of the title...and don't read 'em. I'm like the bookish Jesus--I suffer so you won't need to!

Chicago's Harry Dresden is a modern-day take on Phillip Marlowe or Sam Spade: a hard-boiled wise-ass detective who's just good enough at his job to get by. Only...Dresden is a wizard for hire. Lost your car keys? Need a ghost removed from your attic? Dresden's your guy!

He gets hired to find a wayward husband. Guy's been gone three days.

He also gets a call from Lt. Murphy with the Chicago Police. She brings him in on a double-murder: a couple in the midst of bumping uglies were targeted by evil, hateful magic, their hearts exploded.

The man was an employee of "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone, Chicago's resident crime boss. The girl was a high-high-high-high-end hooker prostitute whore escort employed by Bianca. A vampire.

Marcone wants Dresden to sit this one out. He wants to get the killer himself.

The Dresden books are fun as hell. Butcher's treatment of magic is logical, realistic, practical-seeming. Dresden is powerful, but limited in how he can use his power. He's very young for a wizard, barely past being an apprentice. On top of that, he's on parole with the White Council for killing his mentor in a to-the-death duel: one wrong move, one violation of the Laws of Magic, and he is dead. Dresden comes across as a stand-up guy who wants to do what's right, but fumbles pretty badly when it comes to dealing with people.

All he's got do do is find the killer, find the missing husband, keep a vampire from killing him, keep the cops from busting him, and keep from being the killer's next victim!

Characterization is excellent, the plot romps along, and it's well-paced. There's wicked humor, plenty of little pop-culture references for sci-fi and fantasy buffs.

I'd recommend reading the books before trying to watch the Sci-Fi channel's TV adaptation from a few years ago. The show is different enough in some important ways as to be entirely unrelated to Butcher's books.

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