Harry Dresden, Wizard.

Harry Dresden- Wizard
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other Entertainment

Harry Dresden is a wizard for hire in Chicago. No, really. You can find his ad in the Chicago phone book. Unlike Mike Carey’s Felix Castor the paranormal does not present itself in public. Still, there are strange enough cases for Detective Karrin Murphy of the Chicago PD to justify bringing him in to help on the occasional case.

Storm Front is the first of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. We are introduced to Harry Dresden as he is both approached by a wife in search of her husband and called in to consult with the police over the course of one night. The missing husband quickly takes a backseat to the police case, a grizzly murder with mob connections.

As the murder case unfolds and the body count rises, Dresden realizes that he is not hunting any wizard, but one of the blackest magicians he has ever encountered. Unfortunately, Dresden himself has a history with the black arts and the White Council, his governing body, likes him for the murders. In case you lost count, that has him facing pressure from the mob, the police, his magician council, the wife with the missing husband, and, of course, the murderous, demon summoning black magician who wants him dead.

What more could a wizard for hire want?

This book was recommended to me years ago by a coworker in my former life as a bookseller. It was moved down my list many times until I happened on the short lived TV series one day. I put it on reserve at my library and waited… and waited…

Due to a glitch in my local library’s system, I waited about a year on the holds list for Storm Front. There had been an error when the only copy was reported as lost months before, a replacement was never ordered and those of us on the wait list just assumed it was a REALLY long list. When I checked for the umteenth time a couple weeks ago, the mistake was discovered, a new copy ordered, and an Inter-Library Loan arranged for me.

I have to say this book was quite worth the wait.

Comparisons to Carey’s Castor series are justifiable, and I have to confess I lack the motivation to see which one was written first. The truth is, though they are similar, they are also very different. Castor is dry, sarcastic, and very dark. Dresden takes everything in stride. Despite the black magic at the heart of Storm Front, Butcher keeps it light in an odd way. Showdown with a vampiress? Set the scene with Dresden’s Blue Bug breaking down in the parking lot. Demon attack? While he is naked in the shower? Why not? A little humor used to very good effect.

Dresden is a true wise ass pulp detective in the vein of Sam Spade. All the right elements are there- the down on his luck detective, the mobster, the scheming broad. Maybe magic is the only way to replace the noir feel that created such great plots in the ’30s and ’40s. Technology makes so much known to us with everything accounted for in someone’s database, maybe magic and the supernatural are the new version of grifters with fake names and legendary treasure. Whatever it is, I like in the form of Harry Dresden.

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