Monday, September 22, 2014

Wizard Detective

Hello All!  Did you get some good reading time in this weekend?  My life finally calmed down to less then hurricane style madness for a wee bit, so I got some great book time in.  I also got some time to sit down and ramble about a couple of books I have finally finished.  Today is a rambling about a book I kept forgetting I had, and then kept forgetting that I finished it.  The book is Storm Front, the first in the Harry Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.  I have read several short stories featuring Mr. Dresden and thought I would give the full length version a go.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
Harry Dresden is an openly practicing wizard in Chicago Illinois.  He uses his magic skills as a Private Investigator and sometimes consult for the Chicago PD.  In this first book his private case and his consulting PD case come together in a bloody, buggy mess of awesome.  On the private side, Harry is hired to find the missing husband of Mrs. Sells.  He had started dabbling in magic so Harry was the go to guy for a case like this.  Meanwhile Karrin Murphey of the Chicago PD calls Harry in on a scene of gruesomeness that could have only been committed by magic.  The bodies have had their hearts ripped out from the inside and can only have been accomplished through very powerful magic.  This makes Harry a bit nervous as he is essentially on probation with the White Council, a governing body meant to keep magic users in line.  After an encounter with a mistress vampire, grappling with giant scorpions, mixing spells with the help of a talking skull, screwing up a couple of dates and bribing a fairy with pizza, our detective wizard realizes that his two cases are related.  A couple of gory deaths later, Harry discovers that the missing husband is actually an amature wizard who has learned to harness the power of storms to boost his own magical ability.  He is using this power to distribute ThreeEye, a mind altering drug, and to disrupt the street trade of local gangster Johnny Marcone.  Harry battles Victor Sells and his assorted demon monsters, killing the amature wizard in the process.  The case is solved and Harry is absolved of his previous issues, unfortunately this all comes at the cost of a couple of friendships.  Harry Dresden is now ready to solve more crimes in more books.
I actually really liked this book, it had a great mix of old school, hard boiled detective novel, and some good wizard vs wizard magic.  The author did a really good job combing these two genre's, keeping everything balanced through out the story.  Harry Dresden comes across as a classic private investigator complete with the witty quips and his own way of doing things.  He is also a bit of a scholar, really understanding his magic and the need to study and practice to perfect it, in fact this comes into play in a very big way in the story.  The other characters are a bit stock, but fairly believable.  My favorite characters are probably Murphy, who is actually a believable PD character.  Her job puts her in a precarious position, one that forces her to believe in magic and utilize people like Harry to help her, while at the same time keeping the law and dealing with her fellow officers.  The trust that is broken between Harry and Murphy, while necessary, was a very realistic issue that would come up in these situations.  The fact that Murphy does not automatically forgive Harry, even after the case is solved, actually made me very happy.  My favorite part of the whole book had to be the spirit that lives in a skull in Harry's basement.  He is snappy, horny, funny and I love him.  He helps Harry with his spells (which are done in a really cool way) and has a ton of knowledge that he has no problem using to get what he wants.  Overall the book was enjoyable and I will probably pick up the next book in the series at some point.  If you like urban fantasy or detective novels, this would be a great book for you.  I give it 7 out of 10 wise cracking skulls.
What do you think of mixing genre's?  What is your favorite type of mystery?   Where would you keep your horny, spirit infested skull?

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