Jim Butcher,
Fool Moon
(Roc, 2001)

Wizard Harry Dresden is back in a hackle-raising adventure.

Harry's career is going to the dogs. His bank account is dwindling. Karrin Murphy from the police department has been avoiding him, and that's rough, since she provides the mainstay of his cases. So when she finally shows up to ask for his help, he's sure she has a meaty case for him, although he's ready to snap up anything.

It's a homicide, one of a string. There's a body, badly mutilated, and paw prints around the body. Taken in conjunction with the full moon, Harry can only come up with one conclusion.

To Harry's surprise, however, there is more than one possible answer. He stumbles across a group of young adult werewolves led by Tera, a female werewolf who seems to be more wolf than not. Tera's boyfriend, Harley MacFinn, a wealthy environmental activist, is also a werewolf -- and a suspect. Then there are the Streetwolves, a more than aptly named gang, and Harry's afraid he'll end up barking up the wrong tree. When Gentleman Johnny Marcone, the gangster with whom Harry previously entered into an unholy alliance, gets into the picture, Harry becomes more concerned with minor health issues such as breathing and having a pulse. Finally, there's a creepy crew of FBI agents, and Harry can't tell if they're friend or foe. The fur really begins to fly when all the parties involved converge at Gentleman Johnny's estate.

There's a lot of action in Fool Moon, some of it gory, such as a pivotal scene at the police station. Butcher keeps the pace going at a relentless clip, making you keep turning the pages. He adds enough humor to the mix to leaven the horror and relieving the edge just enough.

Harry's character takes on new aspects, partly due to his developing relationship with Susan Rodriguez. In turn, Susan is showing more dimensions to her character, and I hope she sticks around a while. Without spoiling any of the story, let me just say that Butcher doesn't always let recurring characters continue to recur.

No sophmore slump here for Butcher; Harry's second adventure is even better than the first -- no fooling.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 17 November 2001

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