Author: Jim Butcher
Overview from Goodreads:
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.
Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn’t been able to dredge up any kind of work–magical or mundane.
But just when it looks like he can’t afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.
A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses–and the first two don’t count…
To start, this novel was better than the first (“Storm Front”) as it had a chance to go straight into the story with some recap for those readers who skipped the first. There are tons of books in this series, but so far it seems there is an essential formula that they follow (I could be wrong as this is just the first two). I’ve read from others that this series continues to get better and it’s around book three or four that people really seem to enjoy it.
Our main protagonist is a private eye who works any case from something to normal to something supernatural. As Chicago’s only Wizard, he assists the Chicago Police Department’s Special Investigations unit with his contact Murphy. We get to know our “hero” more in this novel as he opens up more as a character so we get to know more about his past and present. We also learn more about how Harry’s magic works and the rules that are associated with it. (Magic in this universe is so much more confusing compared to when I think of the abilities that I first think of with the word wizard.) Our mystery this time involves some bloody paw prints and people cryptically dying under the full moon.
I don’t understand is the relationship between Karrin Murphy and Harry Dresden as we left our last book at a good place where together they saved the day, but then we’re right back to where we started with Harry struggling to get by at the start of this one. You’d think with the number of times that Harry has helped save others from supernatural beings that he would’ve earned some kind of respect and/or credibility by now. She accuses Harry of being the murderer just because the evidence seems to point that way, but she doesn’t even give him the benefit of the doubt despite their past together.
Our novel’s story is Harry trying to figure out who is causing these gruesome murders. As a murder suspect, he must now work to try and his name while being on the run from the police. He puts a lot of pressure on himself to not only solve this murder, but also solve it quickly and is very disappointed in himself any time he hits a roadblock. This novel is very suspenseful as you are trying to figure out who the murderer is. It keeps you intrigued as you are surrounded by different possibilities for how this novel will conclude.
I think what made me enjoy this novel and give it a higher rating is that I lowered my expectations a lot based on what I thought of the first novel. You can’t go into it expecting a lot as it’s set up similar to a tv series where you get a new case for the protagonist to solve, he experiences some pitfalls along the way, and then the case reaches some kind of conclusion before the next novel and next case begins. As you go through each novel, you get to know our characters more and more, but it’s not set up to have full revelations or character growth in a single place – it’s spread out over a longer period of time.
While this book is an improvement from the first, it still has a ways to go before I’ll be anxiously waiting to read the next one. Number three is on my TBR list and I’ll go from there to decide about book four and so on. Harry has grown on me as a character and I enjoy reading about him and I love each new murderer that Harry has to now find. Although I’m still not a huge fan of Murphy, I have hopes that later novels in this series will give her more contexts into her personality and she’ll begin to grow on me as a character. An overall enjoyable series so far that I’ll just have to keep reading to find out if I’ve become an actual fan or not. On to number three (my TBR list is longer at the moment, but it’s on there!)