Jim Butcher,
Storm Front: Book One
of the Dresden Files

(Roc, 2000)

Jim Butcher's Storm Front: Book One of the Dresden Files is a hard-boiled detective story with supernatural overtones.

Meet Harry Dresden. Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, to be precise. Harry's a wizard -- the only wizard in the Chicago phonebook. He's named for three illusionists, but he doesn't do birthday parties. He does find lost objects and missing people -- whether or not they think they're missing -- and checks out paranormal events. He's also a consultant for the police department's Special Investigations team -- the one that checks out faery abductions and vampire attacks and things that go bump in the night. Hey, it's a living.

It comes as no surprise at all that just before he's to interview a new client, he gets a call from Karrin Murphy of the Special Investigations team regarding two bodies found murdered in a gruesome and magical manner. Harry knows he's dealing with some heavy-duty sorcery here. The problem is, he's already under the excessively watchful eye of Morgan, a Warden from the White Council assigned to make sure that Harry doesn't violate the laws of magic. Plus, the local Godfather, Gentleman Johnny Marcone, doesn't want him pursuing the case. Oh, just one more detail -- the mysterious and murderous sorcerer wants Harry dead.

Harry isn't that easy to discourage, however, and he brings all his recources to bear on the case, determined to see it out until the end -- a distinct possibility for Harry Dresden.

Comparisons to Tanya Huff's series about Vicki Nelson or Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake books are instant and obvious; Storm Front is closer in tone to the Vicki Nelson titles, but it has a distinctive tone of its own. The plot whips along at a brisk pace with a good mix of suspense and humor. Some of it gets a bit grisly, and Harry might seem to be a bit more physically resilient than is reasonable, but it's just plain difficult to put down.

Harry is an engaging and appealing character, scrappy and witty but not too tough or cocky and not at all self-centered. He's backed up with an assortment of intriguing characters: feisty Karrin Murphy, tabloid writer Susan Rodriguez and Mac, owner of a bar that caters to wizards. Johnny Marcone rings a little less true but not overly so. The characters whom you don't expect to see into the next book are less developed but still credible.

Batten down the hatches and brace yourself for Storm Front, the first title in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

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