Friday, January 20, 2012

Review of Storm Front by Jim Butcher (2000, Orbit)

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 PI with a difference - he’s a (mostly) white wizard who specializes in dealing with paranormal and supernatural events, acting as a consultant to the Chicago police force in cases where there are unexplainable happenings. Accident prone, destroyer of all things electrical, and shadowed by white council representative to make sure he doesn’t use magic inappropriately (after some previous offences), Harry is too proud to take anything but magic related cases and bumps along on the breadline. Shortly after he’s called by a frightened woman concerned about her husband, he’s called by the Chicago police to investigate a horrific death, where two lovers hearts have literally exploded out of their chests. On his way back to the office he’s given a ride by a local mobster and he’s then sought out by a sassy journalist. Something is going on and it involves black magic; a lot of it. And very quickly it’s clear that the wielder of this power wants Harry out of the picture; preferably permanently. Not only does Harry need to solve the murder case, he needs to find and neutralise the black wizard without using any illegal magic, as that will result in a death sentence from the white council. And that’s going to be damn difficult, especially when a number of supposed allies think he is black magician.

I loved this book. It captivated me from the first page to the last. It’s clever and funny (I laughed out loud several times and had a grin on my face the rest) and its as tight as a drum. Harry Dresden is a wonderful creation - he has all the stereotype hallmarks of the classic Chandler/Hammett PI, but Butcher has managed to give them a fresh spin. Written in the first person, Butcher has a strong and distinctive voice. The plot is intricate, well paced, and has nice twists and turns. And the action sequences are some of the best I’ve read for a while - a fight sequence with a demon midway through the novel is very well done. It is extremely rare that I will stay up into the wee hours to continue reading, but I did so with Storm Front. It was a five star read all the way. I’ve already sought out the second book in the series.


Sarah said...

I quite fancy this Rob, after your review - and I've not heard of the author at all.

George said...

I've watched the SCI-FI Network's THE DRESDEN FILES. I've read several of Butcher's novels. Very uneven. I think he's overly prolific and needs better quality control.

Rob Kitchin said...

George, that's interesting to know. It's a shame as I thought this was terrific. I'll give the next one ago and see how it goes.