Tag Archives: Harry Dresden

Reread of Fool Moon: Part 1

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 2: Fool Moon

by Jim Butcher

Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Intro!

Chapter 1

Harry is at McAnally’s pub for dinner with Kim Delaney, a former student of Harry’s. Kim was a minor talent that Harry taught the basics to. She asked Harry to come (with the promise of free food) if he could tell her about a complicated magical circle she came across. Harry advises her to forget about it, that it’s out of her league. She protests, saying its not for anything serious, just “academic interest.”

Harry’s hunger causes his resolve to waver and he agrees to tell her about it. Harry’s had some financial troubles lately. For some reason Karrin Murphy hasn’t been hiring him as a consultant for Chicago PD lately. After they finish eating their steaks and fries, Kim asks Harry about the circle.

Harry explains that it is High magic and the three concentric circles act like “layered walls.” The outermost stops creatures of the Nevernever, the middle stops mortal flesh, and Harry calls the third circle a mistake and asks if she copied it right which Kim insights she did. Harry explains that it looks like the circle was built to hold something of spirit and flesh, and Harry lies and says there are no beings like that. Harry lied because a cage like this would only be need to stop something immensely powerful like a demonic demigod or archangel.

Kim doesn’t believe Harry because someone made this circle to trap something. She persists and Harry finally tells her that what this circle is meant to contain is way out of her league. Harry knows its more than academic interest driving her and warns her that she doesn’t have the training or knowledge, comparing it to a grade school kid trying calculus. Kim gets angry, saying Harry has no right to tell her what to do.

Harry changes the subject, asking about how her fund-raiser is going. Kim is an environmental activist and she is burned out on the whole thing right now. Harry tries to get her to promise one last time to not mess with the circle.

She tossed her napkin down, left a few bills on the table, and stood up. “Enjoy your meal, Harry,” she said. “And thanks for nothing.”

I stood up as well. “Kim,” I said. “Wait a minute.”

But she ignored me. She stalked off toward the door, her skirt swaying along with her long hair. She cut an impressive, statuesque figure. I could feel the anger bubbling off her. One of the ceiling fans shuddered and let out a puff of smoke as she walked under it, then whirled down to a halt. She raced up the short flight of stairs and exited the bar, banging the door shut behind her. People watched her leave, then glanced back to me, speculation on their faces. I sat back down, frustrated. Dammit. Kim was one of several people I had coached through.

Harry broods in McAnally’s worrying about Kim. That circle was the big time and it could go wrong from her. Not to mention the White Council doesn’t like it when people mess around with major summonings. Harry’s just wished Kim trusted him enough to listen to his advise. As he broods, Murphy walks in to the pub and over to Harry’s table. She notices Kim’s paper, which Harry had balled up and thrown on the floor, and tidily picks it up.

Harry greets Murphy, trying unsuccessfully to keep the anger out of his voice. Murphy starts to explain and Harry cuts her off, talking about an article in the Tribune that called him a charlatan and asks if Murphy read it. Murphy is impatient with Harry’s whole rant and tells him that there’s been a murder in Harry’s field of expertise.

My Thoughts

The book starts with a quote about how Harry know keeps track of the phases of the moon, presumably after the events of this book.

Kim Delaney is far to eager and excited by this magical circle for it to be academic. She is going to attempt it and due to the law of storytelling, it will go wrong. It has been foreshadowed. Of course, maybe she’ll buck convention and actually succeed.

Once again, we see Harry denying someone the whole picture, just telling them they need to listen to what he says because he’s the wizard without telling them why. Maybe Harry would have been more effective if he explained what the circle for and maybe talk about how the White Council is and why they’ll cut your head off if you break one of their laws.

Weirdly, in later books, the local minor talents, like Kim, are well aware of the White Council and the seven laws and the Wardens who cut peoples heads off for breaking them. It really feels like the Dresdenverse is still in flux right now. The third book is where Butcher starts thinking more about the universe and how it works beyond Harry and Chicago.

Kim Delaney is also an environmental activist. Probably not important. Nope. I’m an author, that’s how I know that things like this are never important.

And Murphy picking up Kim’s discarded paper is probably not important. Just Butcher making sure his characters are environmentally responsible and discarded their trash.

Harry, passive-aggressiveness is just petty. I’m from the Seattle area and that’s how everyone up here handles conflict so I know. Petty and annoying. Be the bigger man! Murphy here to give you work. There’s been a murder.

I should not be so excited about someone’s untimely death, but it’s the start of a Harry Dresden Investigation.

Chapter 2

Harry and Murphy drive to the scene in Murphy’s Saturn. Murphy is in a hurry, driving reckless even for a cop. Their destination is a half built strip mall and Harry is confused since they are outside of Chicago city limits and asks if there out of her jurisdiction. “People need help wherever they can get it, Dresden.” She explains the other killing took place inside city limits.

Murphy leads him to the building and Harry realizes its the Varsity, Marcone’s club that burned down last spring, and Murphy explains its being rebuilt. Inside, the police are documenting the murder scene of a man that had been badly mauled. Harry recognizes him as one of Marcone’s bodyguards that Harry calls Spike.

Murphy is not pleased when Harry tells her who the victim is, and she tells him to look around. Harry finds blood on broken glass and it looks like someone or something smashed through the window. Harry pockets a piece of bloody glass. Harry continues to look around and spots a large paw print and then notices the almost-full moon through the window. He asks Murphy is the other attacks happened about a month ago. Murphy nods in agreement and asks if werewolves are real. They are.

Four FBI agents enter the scene and Murphy gets pissed, wondering how they got here so fast. The lead FBI, Agent Denton, is not pleased to see Murphy here and reminds her that she’s not welcome in his investigation. Denton asks who Harry is and makes snide comments about him being a charlatan. He orders Agent Benn, the female agent, to escort “these two civilians” from the scene. Murphy refuses to leave, saying she has permission from the local police to be here. Denton orders Benn to remove them again, and she tries to grab Murphy. Blows are traded, and Murphy slams Benn into a wall.

Benn’s expression went from shocked and surprised to furious in the space of half a second. Her hand dipped into her jacket, hesitated for half a second, and then resumed motion. She drew her gun with an expert’s precision, smooth and quick without seeming hurried. Her green eyes blazed. I threw myself at Murphy, colliding with her and driving her over and down as the gun went off, louder than a close clap of thunder in the interior of the half-finished restaurant. We landed in a heap on the dusty floor.

Denton moves between Murphy and Agent Benn. All the cops on the scene race over and Denton says there was a misfire. Murphy backs Denton up, to Harry’s confusion. He keeps calling Benn a “crazy bitch.”

Denton orders the two other FIB agents, Harris and Wilson, to escort Harry and Murphy. Harry asks why Murphy didn’t say what really happened. Murphy is just pissed that Agent Benn tried to sucker punch her. Harry points out she also tried to “ventilate” her. Harry watches as Denton is talking to Benn and thinks Denton is hiding something.

Agent Harris, the youngest of the FBI Agents, apologizes on behalf of Benn, saying she’s been stressed out by the Lobo killings. Agent Wilson tells Harris to shut up and tells Murphy to leave or they’ll contact Internal Affairs.

My Thoughts

Wow! Really, Agent Benn, shooting your colleagues it so not cool. This woman needs to be relieved of duty immediately. Why are you guys covering for her, especially you Murphy. I know you’re not really supposed to be here but that was like attempted manslaughter or something.

Anyways, we have full moon related animal killings. It’s a werewolf! They’re calling them the Lobo Killings. That’s a great name for a werewolf serial killer, The Lobo Killer. And poor Spike. We barely got to know you. So, somehow Marcone is involved in this mess.

So, how did the FBI Agents arrive so quickly, what’s the real reason for Agent Benn’s temper tantrum, and what is Agent Denton hiding? All these questions and more simmer through the book. Butcher is great at setting up his mysteries and throwing so many twists and turns at you. But they’re still coherent on a read through and don’t fall apart under scrutiny.

Chapter 3

Outside, Harry takes a minute to get his stomach under control after viewing such a gruesome murder scene and coming down from the adrenaline high of saving Murphy from a psychotic (my words) FBI Agent. Murphy apologizes to Harry at the car, saying she wasn’t supposed to be here and for dragging Harry into it. Harry asks her to explain what’s been happening. She hesitates, and Harry points out that he saved her life twice now. Things get awkward between them.

Harry knows that their relationship has been off since last spring when Harry held out information from Murphy and Harry tries to talk about it and Murphy asks why they didn’t talk about six months ago. Harry tries to explain why he held back on here and she is still angry because she trusted Harry and he broke that trust.

I winced. That stung. What’s worse, she was in the right. “Some of what I knew… It was dangerous, Murph. It could have gotten you killed.”

Her blue eyes fixed on me with a glare that made me lean back against the car door. “I am not your daughter, Dresden,” she said, in a very soft, calm voice. “I am not some porcelain doll on a shelf. I’m a police officer. I catch the bad guys and I put their asses away, and if it comes down to it, I take a bullet so that some poor housewife or CPA doesn’t have to.” She got her gun out of its shoulder holster, checked the ammo and the safety, and replaced it. “I don’t need your protection.”

“Murphy, wait,” I said hastily. “I didn’t do it to piss you off. I’m your friend. Always have been.”

She looked away from me as an officer with a flashlight walked past the car, shining the light about on the ground as he looked for exterior evidence. “You were my friend, Dresden. Now…” Murphy shook her head once and set her jaw. “Now, I don’t know.”

Harry doesn’t know what to say, he had never tried to see it fro her perspective before and realizes that by not telling her everything, he left her defenseless and unprepared last spring. Harry apologizes and she accepts and tells Harry that there can be no more secrets this time and refuses to involve anymore if he doesn’t promise. He reluctantly promises to tell her everything this time.

She glanced at me, at my eyes for a breath, and then looked away. She started the car and drove from the parking lot. “All right,” she said. “I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you because I need every bit of help I can get. Because if we don’t nail this thing, this werewolf, we’re going to have another truckload of corpses on our hands this month. And,” she sighed, “because if we don’t, I’m going to be out of a job. And you’ll probably end up in jail.”

My Thoughts

OMG! Harry realizes that not telling Murphy is why there relationship is strained and he realizes he did the same thing to Kim. Maybe you can eventually overcome this problem, Harry. I’m glad it occurs to Harry just what a compromised position he put her in last spring.

But, even with this self-realization moment, Harry is still reluctant to commit to telling Murphy the whole truth. Come on, Harry. Murphy’s a big girl, she can handle it. Hell, she’s not flinching at all away from this whole werewolf business.

Murphy trusted Harry and he re-payed that trust with secrets. He deserves to be in the doghouse with her so he would have to be an idiot to make the same mistake again. She’s given him a second chance.

And not pressure to put too much pressure Harry, but Murphy’s job and his freedom is on the line. Nothing like High Stakes to motivate a character. Especially Harry who thrives when the shit hits the fan.

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Reread of Fool Moon: Intro

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 2: Fool Moon

by Jim Butcher

Intro

619uoim4iolAfter devouring the first book of the series, Storm Front, in a day (I miss my younger years when I could do that), I was eager for more. I was hooked from the very beginning thanks to Harry’s advertisement:

HARRY DRESDEN—WIZARD
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advise. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other
Entertainment

Now I was eager to dive into Book 2 and find out what new adventures were in store for the only practicing wizard in the city of Chicago. Like the first book, I devoured Fool Moon. Butcher does a great follow-up to his first book, building on the events that happened which all impact the plot of this book from the strain in Dresden and Murphy’s relationship, the politics of the city, and the activities of the gangster Johnny Marcone.

And even better, it’s about werewolves. And not just any werewolves, but all of them. Butcher manages to take all the dispirited different versions of werewolves from mythology and legend and weave them into his story, giving different flavors. The world building of the Dresdenverse is always something I enjoy about reading them.

Let’s find out if Book 2 is as good as the first! (Spoiler, it is)

Be warned. There are SPOILERS ahead. It’s a given that I’ll be spoiling this book and may touch on themes that happen later in the series, but I will keep those to a minimum. This is an amazing book series. While each novel is a standalone story (though that line did blur with the last few), there is an overarching mythology and plot points spawned from this very book. If a character survives and had a modicum of impact on the story, expect their return. Butcher gathers a rich tableau of allies, enemies, and frenemies for Harry Dresden while weaving myths from every culture into a seamless universe.

So lets dive into an amazing urban fantasy series!

If you haven’t gotten bored yet, click her for Part 1

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 9

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 9

Welcome to Part 9 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 8!

Chapter 25

Harry’s Sight reveals no magical alarms or traps as he limps up the porch stairs. For the hell of it, he tries the front door and is stunned to find it unlocked. Inside, the house appeared to Harry’s Sight, just as vile as the outside, and hungry, glittering eyes stared at him from the shadows.

Harry can hear music, the same song that played at Tommy Tomm’s hotel room, coming from a hallway. Harry makes his way towards the music and a room filled with purple light. Finally, Harry heard a man repeating an incantation and a woman moaning in pleasure. The hallway opens up a living room. Stairs lead up to the second floor where the ritual is being performed.

Against the wall are boxes and crates stacked. Harry finds them filled with ThreeEye or the ingredients to make the drug: absinthe, ammonia, peyote mushrooms, alum, antifreeze, glitter, and other materials.

Thunder rumbles closer, and Harry hears Victor’s chanting increase in volume. Harry gathers his courage as the ritual nears its climax. “You pays your money, you takes your chances,” Harry mutters and slags the stereo with fire magic. Then, using wind, lifts himself up to the second floor.

Victor is in a circle of purple light with a rabbit bound before him and a sharpened spooned to dig out the rabbits heart. A lock of Harry’s hair is tied to the rabbit’s head. In another circle, the Beckitts were “writhing together in mindless, sweating desire” to power Victor’s spell. Victor is stunned to see Harry.

“You!” he shouted. “Me,” I confirmed.

“There’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about, Vic.”

His shock transformed into snarling anger in a heartbeat. He snatched up the sharpened spoon, raised it in his right hand, and screamed out words of the incantation. He dragged the rabbit in front of him, the ceremonial representation of me, and prepared to gouge out its, and therefore my, heart.

I didn’t give him the chance to finish. I reached into a pocket and hurled the empty plastic film canister at Victor Shadowman.

As a weapon, it wasn’t much. But it was real, and it had been hurled by a real person, a mortal. It could shatter the integrity of a magic circle.

The canister went through the air above Victor’s circle and broke it, just as he completed the incantation and drove the spoon’s blade down at the poor rabbit. The energy of the storm came whipping down the cylinder of focus created by Victor’s now-flawed circle.

There’s an explosion of power and Victor screams “Why don’t you just die!” Victor sends flames at Harry manages to conjure an adequate shield. Victor summons a bone tube as Harry does the unexpected in a magical duel, tackles Victor and starts to kick him on the ground. Harry is interrupted by Beckitt, who shoots Harry in the hip.

Victor dumps a half dozen scorpions out of the bone tube and turns they grow into identical creatures that had just tore up Harry’s office. Harry crawls backwards into the kitchen and ducks behind a counter and grabs a broom, his only weapon.

A roomful of deadly drug. One evil sorcerer on his home turf. Two crazies with guns. One storm of wild magic looking for something to set it into explosive motion. And half a dozen scorpions like the one I had barely survived earlier, rapidly growing to movie-monster size. Less than a minute on the clock and no time-outs remaining for the quarterback.

All in all, it was looking like a bad evening for the home team.

My Thoughts

Come on, Victor. You have an evil lair and are preforming evil rituals, as well as storing quantities of illegal narcotics, and you don’t even lock your door?

I once again love the potion ingredients. Butcher manages to take such mundane items, mix them with some exotic, and it makes intuitive sense for why they work as potions. He really needs to have Harry whip up more potions just because I love the creativity he puts into them.

Harry makes quite an entrances, especially when you consider he’s wearing sweatpants and cowboy boots. SciFi or SyFy or whatever stupid name you call yourselves now, why wasn’t this scene in the adaptation of Storm Front for the Dresden File TV show? Why couldn’t you be bothered to a faithful adaption to begin with.

I could write an entire blog post on the subject, but I digress.

“Why won’t you die!” Many bad guys ask this about Harry. He’s like the energizer bunny, he just keeps going and going.

Love how Harry is more than willing to just kick Victor ass than bother to have a proper magic duel. Poor Victor. Spent all that time learning how to carve the hearts out of bunnies to kill people and not enough time on the self defense. Lucky the Beckitts are packing or that would have been such a pathetic end to a villain.

Butcher brings all the elements of his magic system to play, with rituals, magic circles, all the stuff he has taught us about over the course of the book and how easy it is for Harry to disrupt it.

Chapter 26

Trapped in the kitchen, and without his blasting rod, evocation magic is too dangerous in the close quarters of the kitchen. Harry remembers a spell he learned when he was an apprentice, and enchants the broom he’s holding. The broom comes to life, much like in Fantasia, and sweeps the scorpions off the second floor before they had a chance to grow much.

Victor screams in rage and the Beckitts try to shoot the broom. Fire from Victor’s spell is spreading now and Victor offers to let Harry go. Harry counteroffers of waiting for the fire to spread and kill them all and wipe out Victor’s drug stockpile.

Victor snarled and pitched another burst of flame into the kitchen. This time, it was much easier to cover myself, half-shielded as I already was by the counters. “Oh, cute,” I said, my voice dripping scorn. “Fire’s the simplest thing you can do. All the real wizards learn that in the first couple of weeks and move on up from there.” I looked around the kitchen. There had to be something I could use, some way I could escape, but nothing presented itself.

“Shut up!” Victor snarled. “Who’s the real wizard here, huh? Who’s the one with all the cards and who’s the one bleeding on the kitchen floor? You’re nothing, Dresden, nothing. You’re a loser. And do you know why?”

“Gee,” I said. “Let me think.”

He laughed, harshly. “Because you’re an idiot. You’re an idealist. Open your eyes, man. You’re in the jungle, now. It’s survival of the fittest, and you’ve proved yourself unfit. The strong do as they wish, and the weak get trampled. When this is over, I’m going to wipe you off my shoe and keep going like you never existed.”

Dresden lies and tells Victor the police, the White Council, and Marcone all know about him. Victor demands to know who hired Dresden, and Harry continues to mock him, hoping to angry Victor enough that he makes a mistake. Victor tells the Beckitts to start the car and then begins to summon his toad-demon, Kalshazzak.

Harry’s curiosity gets the better of him, and he peers over the counter to see the demon being summoned. Harry see the same toad-demon he banished last night (you can’t kill a demon, just destroy the bodies they create to inhabit the mortal world). Victor gloats in triumphant, “There Dresden. Do you see? The strong survive, and the weak are torn to little pieces.” Victor sics the demon on Harry. Harry stands to face it.

“My God, Victor,” I said. “I can’t get over how clumsy you are.”

Victor’s smile immediately became a snarling sneer once again. I saw fear touch the corners of his eyes, uncertainty even though he was on top, and I felt a little smile quirk my lips. I moved my gaze to the demon’s.

“You really shouldn’t just hand someone else a demon’s name,” I told him. Then I drew in a breath, and shouted out in a voice of command, “Kalshazzak!”

Harry speaks the demon’s name a second time and struggles to speak it’s name a third time. He thinks of Jenny Sells, Murphy unconscious on a stretcher, and Susan sick and unable to run. Harry had beaten it once and gathers his will and yells “Kalshazzak” for the third time.

The demon turns turns to Victor and ignores his orders. Victor runs for the door, but Harry tackles him and the pair grapple at the balcony. Victor demands to know what Harry did, and Harry explains about the Fourth Law of Magic forbids “binding any being against its will” so Harry set the demon free.

“What do we do?” Victor said. His voice was shaking, and he started shaking me, too. “What do we do?”

“We die,” I said. “Hell, I was going to do that anyway. But at least this way, I take you out with me.”

I saw him glance at the demon, then back to me, eyes terrified and calculating. “Work with me,” he said. “You stopped it before. You can stop it again. We can beat it, together, and leave.”

I studied him for a moment. I couldn’t kill him with magic. I didn’t want to. And it would only have brought a death sentence on my head in any case. But I could stand by and do nothing. And that’s exactly what I did. I smiled at him, closed my eyes, and did nothing.

Victor tries to throw Harry at the demon, and the pair continue their grapple. The railing on the balcony snaps, and Harry fall down onto the first floor with the scorpions while Victor hangs onto the railing. Harry, seeing Victor prepare to use magic on the demon, distracts Victor by telling him Monica ratted him out. Victor is stunned and furious, and the demon bites Victor in the neck, severing an artery.

Harry climbs up Victor’s dying body, dangling over the balcony in the toad-demon’s maw. Harry’s weight pulls the toad-demon and Victor over the railing and drop them down with the scorpions. Harry was prepared for this, and hung onto a guardrail. He pulls himself up onto the balcony as the scorpion tear into Victor and Kalshazzak.

Harry’s strength gives out, the house is engulfed in flames and Harry lies there waiting for death when Morgan strides into the house, sword drawn. Morgan kills a scorpion and walks over to Harry, sword raised to strike at Harry.

Typical, was my last thought. How perfectly typical, to survive everything the bad guys could do, and get taken down by the people for whose cause I had been fighting.

My Thoughts

What an epic battle. Harry the underdog comes through, outsmarting Victor through the sheer fact that Harry was the professional and Victor was the amateur. Again, SyFy, why wasn’t the broom sweeping scorpion monsters in the Storm Front adaptation?

While Harry isn’t the most intelligent guy at figuring out what’s going on until it’s too late, under pressure, when everything is going down, he can think fast and throw together ballsy plans while others might be too overwhelmed by the situation to think. That and his pig-headed stubbornness is probably the character’s greatest strengths.

Most of the time.

Victor fails in classic villain manner, destroyed by his own creation. Well done, Dresden.

Of course, Morgan shows up at the worst possible time. Poor Harry. Except Morgan has a code. And though he’s a dick, he lives by that code.

Chapter 27

Harry wakes up to Morgan performing CPR on him. Harry is stunned that Morgan saved him and Morgan explains he saw the confrontation, how Harry risked his life to stop Shadowman without breaking the Laws.

“I wasn’t the killer,” I said.

“No.”

“So,” I wheezed, “that would make me right. And then that would make you—”

Morgan scowled. “More than ready to carry out the Doom if you cross the line, Dresden. Don’t think this has gotten you off the hook, as far as I’m concerned.”

Harry realizes that Morgan is now obliged to report what happened to the council and Morgan is not pleased. Morgan, and others, still think Harry “consorted with the powers of darkness.” And plan to continue watching Harry closely. Morgan stalks off as the police arrive.

The Beckitts are arrested fleeing because they’re naked and later are convicted of drug trafficking and sent to prison. Marcone burned the Varsity down for insurance money and put out the rumor that Harry was hired by Marcone to take out the ThreeEye gang.

Harry was in the hospital when the White Council met and the Doom of Damocles was lifted from him for “valorous action above and beyond the call of duty.” Murphy was in the hospital room down the hall from Harry and he sent her some flowers and the remains of her handcuffs. Murphy claims she doesn’t remember what happened in the office, rescinded the arrest warrant, and paid Harry his fee. She even called Harry to consult again.

Monica Sells and her children vanished into Witness Protection. Bob returned after his 24 hours were up, and there were rumors of a very wild party a the University of Chicago. Susan published her article, DATE WITH A DEMON. She visited Harry in the hospital, and he used sympathy to leverage another date with her. “That time, we were not interrupted by a demon. And I didn’t need any of Bob’s love potions or advice, thank you very much.”

Mac got his TransAm back, while Harry got the Blue Beetle back. Harry missed the TransAm. Harry sends a pizza a week to Toot-toot and his friends out at the lake. Mister the cat got nothing, but didn’t seem to care.

The world is getting weirder. Darker every single day. Things are spinning around faster and faster, and threatening to go completely awry. Falcons and falconers. The center cannot hold.

But in my corner of the country, I’m trying to nail things down. I don’t want to live in Victor’s jungle, even if it did eventually devour him. I don’t want to live in a world where the strong rule and the weak cower. I’d rather make a place where things are a little quieter. Where trolls stay the hell under their bridges and where elves don’t come swooping out to snatch children from their cradles. Where vampires respect the limits, and where the faeries mind their p’s and q’s.

My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. When things get strange, when what goes bump in the night flicks on the lights, when no one else can help you, give me a call.

I’m in the book.

My Thoughts

What a great end to book and the start of a promising series. After I finished this book, I had to race back to the bookstore to pick up the next in the series. For a week, I read through the books up to Proven Guilty, where, sadly, I caught up with the what was published.

Harry can’t help but bait the bear with Morgan even when the guy just saved his life. Harry, sometimes you can give your smart mouth a rest. Geezs. Lucky for you, Morgan believes in duty and tells your story straight to the council.

Not much to say, pretty straight forward chapter that explains how everything turned out over the the next few months. As always, Harry’s personality adds quite a bit of humor and color to what is essential a checklist and makes it into something enjoyable and entertaining.

The foundation that Butcher builds later books has been laid here, many of the elements wrapped up at the end will come back as plot points in later books. Many of the characters will return (even in the case of one, not for a while) and we’ll even learn more about Victor’s killing spell way down the line and exactly what the spell is called. There will be a few continuity issues (like Harry claiming he saw his master summon He Who Walks Behind but in Book 13 when Harry tells the story, he doesn’t see it at all). But those are minor quibbles to the start of a great series.

At the end of the book, Harry ponders whether he really is a dangerous wizard like Morgan thought and realizes the temptation will always be there for Harry to do evil. He just plans on never giving in. We’ll see, Harry, we’ll see if you can keep walking that path as your enemies only get harder.

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 7

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 7

Welcome to Part 7 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 6!

Chapter 19

Harry has no time to flee, so hides behind the Linda Randall’s door just before it opens. A nervous man enters the room and starts searching frantically underneath Linda’s bed. Harry realizes this is the photographer looking for the film canister Harry found. Harry decides to use his police consultant badge to bluff that he’s a cop and question the man.

Harry startles the man, who starts babbling about how he’s just a photographer. Harry learns he is Donny Wise. Donny notices Harry’s identification, and realizes he’s not a cop and he’s leaving. Harry asks about the pictures he took out at Lake Providence on Wednesday but Donny tries to leave.

I gestured curtly to my staff in the corner, and hissed, in my best dramatic voice, “Vento servitas,” jerking my hand at the doorway. My staff, driven by tightly controlled channels of air moving in response to my evocation, leapt across the room and slammed the door shut in front of Donny Wise’s nose. He went stiff as a board. He turned to face me, his eyes wide.

“My God. You’re one of them. Don’t kill me,” he said. “Oh, God. You’ve got the pictures. I don’t know anything. Nothing. I’m no danger to you.” He tried to keep his voice calm, but it was shaking. I saw him tilt his eyes at the glass sliding doors to the little patio, as though calculating his chances of making it there before I could stop him.

Harry tells him to relax and to help him find Linda’s killer. Donny is scared, not wanting to be murdered like Linda. Harry promises to stop the murderer and Donny wants to know why he cares since he’s not a cop. “Who else is going to?” answers Harry, who then asks about the pictures.

Donny agrees to tell him in exchange for the roll of film Harry found. Harry agrees. Donny explains that he met Linda when he photographed her for an adult magazine. On Wednesday, Linda approached him and asked him to take some photograph out at Lake Providence in exchange for sex. Harry asked what he saw at the lake house and Donny said an orgy involving Linda, a second woman, and three men. Donny figured Linda wanted to blackmail someone important.

Harry asks what Donny wants the film for. Donny says he wants to destroy the film, but Harry sense he’s lying. Harry casts a spell and burns the film in the canister and then tells Donny he’ll regret it if he’s been lying. Donny assured him he’s telling the truth and flees apartment. Harry thinks that Linda was blackmailing Victor Sells and wanders how he’d stumbled onto this conspiracy by a chance.

Simple answer—it hadn’t been an accident. It had all been by design. I had been directed there. Someone had wanted me out at the lake house, had wanted me to get involved and to find out what was going on out there. Someone who was nervous as hell around wizards, who refused to give out her name, who had carefully dropped phrases that would make me believe her ignorance, who had to rush out quickly from her appointment and who was willing to let five hundred dollars go, just to get me off the phone a few seconds faster. Someone had drawn me out and forced me into the open, where I had attracted all sorts of hostile attention.

That was the key.

I gathered up my staff and rod and stalked out the door.

It was time to talk to Monica Sells.

My Thoughts

“Who else will?” That phrase summons up Harry’s character in a nutshell. He puts a lot of pressure on himself to help people. He took the Spiderman lesson to heart. He has power and he should use it to help people.

Out mysterious photographer is revealed be some slimeball who doesn’t have a problem being paid in sex and even after Linda is murdered, still wants to use that film for profit. Good thing Harry destroyed it or the guy would probably get himself killed. What’s interesting is that he said he didn’t see anything other than an orgy but when Harry uses magic, Donny is familiar enough with it and has clearly heard or dealt with other practitioners. Harry never followed up on this information.

The pieces are falling into place, we know who are villain is for sure now. Poor Linda, her leverage appears to have backfired on her.

We already knew from Toots that Victor Sells was hosting orgies at the lake house. But Donny reveals that there were lots of candles. The orgy appears to be part of some ritual, possibly the ritual that killed Tommy Tom and Jennifer Stanton.

Chapter 20

Harry arrives at Monica’s house. She lives out in the suburbs and Harry notices that all the surrounding houses on the street are abandoned with FOR SALE signs. There are no animal sounds, and Harry realizes the place is blighted from the presence of a black wizard. Harry knocks on the door, and Monica answers. She tells him to go away. Harry refuses and she threatens to call the police. Harry tells her to, he would love to tell the police about her husband.

Monica relaxes briefly and Harry pushes past her into house. Monica attacks him with a stun gun and Harry disarms her. Furiously she yells that she won’t let him harm her children and leaps at Harry and their eyes make contact and they have a soulgaze. Harry realizes that fear and love is motivating her. Harry also realizes who she looks like. Monica was abused as a child, and her husband abused her as well. Her two kids are all that matter to her now, and she hired Harry to protect them.

The soulgaze ends and Monica recovers quickly and asks what Harry wants. Harry wants to know who killed Tommy, Jennifer, and Linda, and he wants the lock of his hair back. Monica is surprised Linda’s dead, and Harry tells her it was last night and he’s next. Outside, thunder rumbles and Harry realizes another storm is on the way. Monica begs Harry to leave before her husband returns.

They are interrupted by Monica’s two kids, a girl and boy (who’s holding a baseball bat). The girl asks if everything all right and Monica tells her kids to go to their rooms and lock the door. She pleads with Harry to leave before the storm.

“Monica. Please. I’m up against a wall. I’m out of options. Everything I have leads here. To you. And I don’t have time to wait. I need your help, before I wind up just like Jennifer and Tommy and Linda.” I sought her eyes, and she looked up at me without turning her gaze away. “Please. Help me.” I watched her eyes, saw the fear and the grief and the weariness there. I saw her look at me as I leaned on her, and demanded more out of her than she could afford to give.

“All right,” she whispered. She turned away and walked toward the kitchen. “All right. I’ll tell you what I know, wizard. But there’s nothing I can do to help you.” She paused at the doorway and looked back at me. Her words fell with the weight of conviction, simple truth. “There’s nothing anyone can do, now.”

My Thoughts

When Monica thinks Harry is going to hurt her kids, she turns mama bear on Harry. They are all that matter to Monica now and she’s going to go out kicking and screaming to protect them.

Monica Sells is stuck in an abusive relationship and reached out to Dresden because he’s the only one who could stop her husband. She can’t leave him. There’s no place she could go where Victor’s spell couldn’t reach her. No wonder she was so nervous around Harry at the start. If Victor found out, he would take it out on her and maybe even their kids. Fear is a hard thing to overcome.

Chapter 21

Monica sits down at the kitchen table and Harry leans against the counter. She doesn’t look at him, but tells him to ask whatever questions he wants. Harry asks if she’s related to Jennifer. Monica reveals Jennifer’s her little sister who “ran away to become an actress, but became a whore instead.” Monica always wanted her to stop being a prostitute, but Jennifer didn’t want to. Harry asks why she lied to him when she hired him.

“And tell me what, Monica?” I asked. I kept my voice soft. “Who killed your sister?”

Wind chimes tinkled outside. The friendly cow clock went tick, tick, tick. Monica Sells drew in a long, shuddering breath and closed her eyes. I saw her gathering up the frayed threads of her courage, knotting them up as tightly as she could. I knew the answer, already, but I needed to hear it from her. I needed to be sure. I tried to tell myself that it would be good for her to face such a thing, just to say it out loud. I wasn’t sure I bought that—like I said, I’m not a very good liar.

Monica squeezed her hands into tight fists, and said, “God help me. God help me. It was my husband, Mr. Dresden. It was Victor.” I thought she would dissolve into tears, but instead she just hunched tighter into her little defensive ball, as though she expected someone to start hitting her.

She sent Harry out to the lake house to find Victor because he was getting worse and worse and she was fearful for her kids. Monica explains that he wasn’t so bad in the beginning, he only rarely lost his temper with her and she thought kids would help calm him down. But then Victor discovered the magic about four years ago and things got worst. Monica realizes he was starting to go crazy. One night, he made her drink a potion. Victor wanted Monica to see the world the way he did. Harry realizes this is the ThreeEye drug.

She nodded. “And…I saw things, Mr. Dresden. I saw him.” Her face screwed up, and I thought she was going to vomit. I could sympathize. To have the Third Sight suddenly opened to you like that, not knowing what it was, what was happening to you; to look on the man you had wed, who had given you children, and to see him for what he truly was, obsessed with power, consumed by greed—it had to have been hell. And it would remain with her. Always. She would never find the memory fading, never find the comfort and solace of years putting a comfortable padding between her and the image of her husband as a monster.

Monica reveals that even though the experience with the drug was horrifying, she was addicted and wanted more. Victor was thrilled when he realized this and started to make more. He learned that emotions, both his and others, could help him make more of the drug. He got “investors,” the Beckitts. They had money and wanted revenge of Marcone for their daughter.

Monica talks about the rituals. Victor would close the circle, and she were just lost in a sea of lust and flesh. It was an escape for Monica. Victor brought in her sister who knew Linda. Tommy Tom was recruited, though Monica doesn’t know how. Things got better, Victor was making money and it took the pressure off for a while. But Victor started summoning demons, and things got darker. And then he start looking at their children, and Monica realized he wanted them. She breaks down crying. Harry gets her a glass of water, not sure what else to do.

If she heard me, it didn’t show. She sipped water, then continued, as if desperate to finish, to get the taste of the words out of her mouth. “I wanted to leave him. I knew he’d be furious, but I couldn’t let the children stay close to him. I tried to talk to Jenny about it. And she took matters into her own hands. My little sister, trying to protect me. She went to Victor and told him that if he didn’t let me leave, she’d go to the police and to Johnny Marcone. She’d tell them all about him. And he…he…”

Victor killed Jennifer and that’s why she came to Harry to stop him and protect her children. Monica tells him to go, she doesn’t want to see him die. Harry gets up and leaves and sees Monica’s daughter, Jenny. The girl asks if he’s the wizard, Harry Dresden. Harry nods and the girl makes him promise to help their mother.

She thought that over for a moment, studying me. Then she nodded. “My daddy used to be one of the good guys, Mr. Dresden. But I don’t think that he is anymore.” Her face looked sad. It was a sweet, unaffected expression. “Are you going to kill him?”

Another simple question.

“I don’t want to,” I told her. “But he’s trying to kill me. I might not have any choice.”

She swallowed and lifted her chin. “I loved my aunt Jenny,” she said. Her eyes brightened with tears. “Momma won’t say, and Billy’s too little to figure it out, but I know what happened.” She turned, with more grace and dignity than I could have managed, and started to leave. Then she said, quietly, “I hope you’re one of the good guys, Mr. Dresden. We really need a good guy. I hope you’ll be all right.” Then she vanished down the hall on bare, silent feet.

Harry leaves the Sells’ house and gets back into the cab he took out here. Harry is trying to think and is furious about the damage Victor has done to his family. Harry doesn’t know what to do next. Harry can’t turn to the police, Murphy might arrest him. He can’t turn to the White Council because of Morgan’s suspicions. Harry realizes he needs to confront Victor Sells and stop him without killing him with magic.

Harry remembers that Monica left one of Victor’s talismans with him. He could use it to rebound some of his powers back at Victor and tells the cabby to pull into a gas station parking lot. Harry decides to call Murphy. Carmichael answers and Harry learns that Murphy is searching his office and has an arrest warrant for him.

Harry hangs up and calls his office and Murphy answers. Harry explains that he knows who the killer is. Murphy is pissed, telling him its to late to talk. Harry tells her to stay out of his desk drawer, its dangerous.

“Murphy,” I said, trying to keep my voice even, “you’ve got to trust me, one more time. Stay out of my desk. Please.”

There was silence for a moment. I heard her draw in a breath, and let it out through her mouth. Then Murphy said, her voice hard, professional, “Why, Dresden? What are you hiding?”

I heard her open the middle drawer.

There was a clicking sound, and a startled oath from Murphy. The receiver clattered to the floor. I heard gunshots, shockingly loud, whining ricochets, and then a scream.

In a panic, Harry jumps back into the car and tells the cabby to get him to office as fast as possible.

My Thoughts

Victor Sells is a piece of shit!!!

His obsession with black magic destroyed his family. His own daughter thinks its a good thing if Harry kills him. Monica’s tale is heartbreaking. Like many abused women, she actually explains away his anger in the beginning. She said Victor just wanted to be successful, to provide for Monica and he would get frustrated and take it out on her. And like every other woman in this situation, she had to hit bottom before she would seek out help.

Monica’s kitchen, decorated with cows, appears to be her safe place. She is constantly looking at her various cow figurine and they seem to provide her with strength. Victor seems like the type of guy that thinks his wife’s place is in the kitchen and probably stayed out of there as much as possible.

Hopefully Monica reached out for help before its too late for her and her children.

Jennifer Stanton was killed because she was trying to protect her older sister. Poor girl. I would say she was the stronger of the two. I bet her and Tommy were going to go to Marcone. Tommy would know he can be reasoned with.

For all the disdain that Monica shows for Jennifer’s lifestyle, she named her daughter after her.

Well that talisman of Victors turns out to be dangerous. Good luck Murphy, cavalry’s on the way.

Click her for Part 8 of the reread!

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 6

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 6

Welcome to Part 6 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 5!

Chapter 16

I had lost Murphy’s trust. It didn’t matter that I had done what I had to protect both her and myself. Noble intentions meant nothing. It was the results that counted. And the results of my actions had been telling a bald-faced lie to one of the only people I could come close to calling a friend. And I wasn’t sure that, even if I found the person or persons responsible, even if I worked out how to bring them down, even if I did Murphy’s job for her, that what had happened between us could ever be smoothed over.

These are the thoughts that fill Harry’s mind as he walks down to a gas station to call for a cab. A man walking by Harry suddenly punches him in the stomach multiple times and throws Harry to the ground. Stunned, it takes Harry a moment to realize the attacker is cutting his hair off with scissors.

Harry panics and leaps at his attacker, wrenching the attackers knee. Harry recognizes the man as one of Marcone’s goons. Gimpy, as Harry now thinks of his assailant, fights off Harry and gets away despite Harry’s desperate struggle to get his hair back. Gimpy escapes in a car. Harry is scared. Marcone could do magic against Harry with his hair, the same way Shadowman could kill Jennifer, Tommy, and Linda.

Harry is not sure how Marcone now fits into the picture. Whether he’s working with Shadowman, has his own wizard, or Gimpy is playing both sides, doesn’t matter. Harry’s angry and he’s going to get his hair back and kick some ass. Harry ponders how he’s going to find his hair when he realizes he has some of Gimpy’s blood under his fingernails. He can use the link between Gimpy and his blood and perform a tracking spell. The spell will let harry track Gimpy by “scent.”

I started laughing again. I had the son of a bitch. I could follow him back to Marcone, or whoever he was working for, but I had to do it now. I hadn’t had enough blood to make it last long.

Hey, buddy!” The cabby leaned out the window and glared at me, the engine running at an idle, the end of his cheroot glowing orange.

I stared at him for a second. “What?” He scowled. “What, are you deaf? Did someone call for a cab?”

I grinned at him, still angry, still a little light-headed, still eager to go kick Gimpy and the Shadowman’s teeth in. “I did.”

Why do I get all the nuts?” he said. “Get in.”

Harry tells the cab to take him to apartment so he can pick up some stuff, and Harry will tell let the cabbie know the second stop “when we get there.”

My Thoughts

The panic Harry has when his hair gets caught really helps to reinforce how dangerous in Harry’s world it is to let pieces of you fall into your enemies hand. Harry fights desperately with Gimpy, grappling with the guy even after getting punched, hard, three times in the stomach.

Using body parts in spells is found in many real world occult practices, another way Butcher weaves the occult and mythology into the world making his magic seem both real and fantastical all at the same time.

Harry’s tracking spell is interesting. It required putting the blood and his own nose hairs in a circle drawn in chalk on the sidewalk. Followed by some pseudo-Latin that roughly means “follow your testimony” according to the Dresden File Wiki.

Chapter 17

After collecting Harry’s equipment (two bracelets, a ring, blasting rod, and staff), the tracking spell leads Harry to the Varsity, a night club owned by Marcone in the suburbs. Harry scouts the location and sees Marcone with Hendricks, Gimpy, and Spike. Harry thinks about his entrance, pondering using illusions or other subtle magics.

I shook my head, irritated. I didn’t have time to bother with subtlety.

Power into the talismans, then. Power into the ring. I reached for the power in both the staff and rod, cool strength of wood and seething anger of fire, and stepped up to the front door of the Varsity.

Then I blew it off its hinges.

I blew it out, rather than in. Pieces flew toward me and bounced off the shield of air I held in front of me, while others rained back behind me, into the parking lot. It wouldn’t do to injure a bunch of innocent diners on the other side. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

Harry steps through the door, slags the jukebox with a fireball from his blasting rod, and strides arrogantly up to Marcone, jeering “Little pig, little pig, let me in.” Marcone is not amused and tells everyone the Varsity is closing earl. After the diners flee, Harry demands his hair back. Marcone is clearly confused by Harry statement. Harry explains how Gimpy jumped him.

Marcone turns to Gimpy, who begins to sweat, and demands to know what is going on. Gimpy protests his innocent. Marcone pushes Gimpy, who panics and whips out a gun. Harry channeled power through his bracelet, forming a shield before him and deflects the bullets. At the same time, Hendricks pushes Marcone to safety and produce his own gun. He kills Gimpy.

Marcone is disappointed that Hendricks killed him because he wanted answers. Harry and Marcone agree that they face a common enemy. Harry searches Gimpy and doesn’t find his hair. Harry asks Marcone for what he knows about their enemy. Marcone points out that Harry just challenged him publicly and he cannot let that slide. So, Marcone will either let Harry be killed or, if Harry wins, put out that word that Harry was working for Marcone.

Marcone does reveal that they never have learned anything about the enemy. Everyone they interrogated spoke only of shadows. Marcone then warns Harry that it’s best if their paths don’t cross again. Harry agrees.

I turned and trudged out of the place, into the night and the cold and the misty rain. I still felt sick, could still see Gimpy Lawrence’s eyes as he died. I could still hear Linda Randall’s husky laughter in my head. I still regretted lying to Murphy, and I still had no intentions of telling her any more than I already had. I still didn’t know who was trying to kill me. I still had no defense to present to the White Council.

Let’s face it, Harry,” I told myself. “You’re still screwed.”

My Thoughts

This is the first time we can see what Harry is capable of. It’s quite an impressive entrance. I can see why Harry didn’t want to unleash his magic in his apartment without his shield bracelet on. Butcher’s always good on the details, such as the collateral damage that the shrapnel blowing a door in could produce.

Harry is always snarky. But Marcone really seems to bring out a level of immaturity in Harry. The whole big bad wolf thing is a little over the top as well as childish and this level of discourse will only continue between them. Marcone, of course, is too classy a guy to ever sink to such a level.

Marcone continues to be ruthlessly practical. The whole exchange with Hendricks. He’s disappointed that Hendricks killed him but understands why. Over Gimpy’s corpse, he asks the dead man why he didn’t just come to Marcone. Marcone would gladly double what his enemy was paying Gimpy.

Well, another dead end for Harry. Not even Marcone knows who Shadowman is. And now, all Shadowman needs is another spring storm and bye-bye Harry.

Chapter 18

Whenever Harry is in turmoil, he walks. And that’s what he does after leaving the Varsity. He thinks about his father, a stage magician. His dad was working and wasn’t there when Harry’s mother died giving birth to him. He named Harry after three magicians and then took him with on the road. Harry remembers his dad as kind and generous, but sad, missing Harry’s mother. Harry’s dad always promised that Harry could be his assistant when he was older, but his dad died of an aneurysm before that happened. Harry found the body, a smile on his face.

Harry realizes he has walked to Linda Randall’s apartment and without thinking, Harry enters the apartment, breaking the police tape. Harry, feeling depressed and guilty, curls up on the floor next Linda’s bed and falls asleep. Harry wakes up the next morning, feeling disgusted with himself.

What the hell are you doing, Harry?” I demanded, out loud.

Lying down to die,” I told myself, petulantly.

Like hell,” my wiser part said. “Get off the floor and get to work.”

Don’t wanna. Tired. Go away.”

You’re not too tired to talk to yourself. So you’re not too tired to bail your ass out of the alligators, either. Open your eyes,” I told myself, firmly.

Harry looks around the room, lingering on a photo of Linda smiling at her graduation with her parents. Harry then spots a red film canister just like the one he found at Victor Sellers lake house. Elated, Harry snatches the canister. Suddenly there was a link between Monica’s missing husband and the murders. Re-energized, Harry gets up and freezes, hearing someone turning a key in the apartment door.

My Thoughts

Harry’s had a stressful day and knowing that your death from to different sources, Shadowman and the White Council, would make anyone depressed. Worse, Harry feels guilty for not protecting Linda (a reoccurring issue he deals with). He didn’t know how Shadowman was killing people until it was too late. He has no reason to feel guilty, but emotions are never so simple are the?

And Harry, its not good to talk back and forth to yourself like that. Maybe you should take a vacation if you survive the next few days.

So, now Harry’s two cases have crossed (shocking!). The plot thickens and Harry finally has a clue he grasp. We know from Monica that Victor was getting into magic, teaching himself, and we also know that Shadowman, while figuring out how to harness a storm, has had no formal training. Two plus two just might equal four.

Click here to continue on to Part 7.

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 5

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 5

Welcome to Part 5 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 4!

Chapter 13

When Harry wakes up, a spring thunderstorm is sweeping through Chicago. Thunder rumbles through the apartment, and Harry realizes there was a storm the night Jennifer and Tommy died. Harry ponders whether the killer could be harnessing the storm. It would be difficult, the power unstable.

The storm is making Harry nervous, and he reaches for his gun, only to remember he left it in his lab downstairs before heading to the police station. Harry remembers that Linda is coming over soon when someone knocks at the door. Harry finds Susan Rodriguez, dressed up and ready to go on their date.

Harry invites her in and says he needs to take a quick shower. In the shower, Harry is trying to figure out how to handle both Susan and Linda without it blowing up in his face, or revealing anything about the murder case to Susan. Harry catches a flash of movement, someone is heading to the stairs that lead down to his apartment door.

Harry panics, and jumps out of the shower, shampoo still in his hair, and grabs a towel. He enters the living room as Susan reaches for the door. Mister, Harry’s cat, suddenly starts hissing at the door. With an amused smile, Susan opened the door.

As the door opened, I felt it, the cloud of energies that accompanies a spirit-being when it comes into the mortal world, disguised until now by the background clutter of the storm. A figure stood in doorway, rather squat, less than five feet tall, dressed in a plain brown trench coat, illuminated by blue lightning overhead. There was something wrong to the shape, something that just wasn’t a part of good old Mother Earth. It’s “head” turned to look at me, and sudden twin points of fire, as blue as lighting dancing above, flared up, illuminating the leathery, inhuman curves of a face that most closely resembled that of a large and warty toad.

Susan screamed. The demon spits acid at Harry as he dives behind the couch. Harry tells Susan not to get between him and the demon. Susan asks what it is. “A bad guy,” answers Harry. The demon manages to push past Harry’s threshold and enter the apartment as Harry tells Susan to head downstairs.

Harry uses wind magic to summon his staff. Staff in hand, Harry tries to use force to push it out and the demon resists it. Harry fills his strength failing and tells Susan to drink the escape potion. She does, but nothing happens. A moment later, she comes back upstairs with Harry’s .38 revolver and unloads on the demon. The bullets ricochet off the demon, only managing to knock it off balanced. Harry grabs Susan’s arm and drags her down into the subbasement.

Bob the skull asks what’s going on upstairs. Ignoring Bob, Harry and Susan clear stuff off Harry’s magic circle as Bob warns them a toad demon is heading down the ladder. Harry pulls himself and Susan into the circle and channels his will into it, just in time as some acid splatters against the circle’s protection.

The demon paces menacingly in the lab, unable to touch Harry and Susan within the circles. Harry explains that it can’t cross the circle unless one of them breaks it and they will have to stand there until dawn, when the sun’s energy should disrupt the demons form and send it back to the Nevernever.

Susan starts to get amorous as Bob warns she drank the Love Potion instead of the Escape Potion. Bob points out how well the Love Potion works. Harry is less than amused.

The demon watched what was happening in the circle with froggy eyes and kicked a section of floor clear enough debris for it to squat down on its haunches and stare, restless and ready as a cat waiting for a mouse to stick its head out of its hole. Susan stared up at me with sultry eyes and tried to wrench me to the floor, and consequently out of the circle’s protective power. Bob continued to wail his innocence.

Who says I don’t know how to show a lady a good time.

My Thoughts

This is the problem when you set up two dates at the same time. The girls are going to find out what’s going on and then you’ll have a frog demon spitting acid at you. I really hope Harry learns a valuable lesson from this.

It’s a shame when they made the Dresden Files TV show and adapted Storm Front, they left this entire sequence out. The visual of your hero, shampoo suds in hair, dressed in a bath towel, fending off a demon with his staff like Gandalf on the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm would have been interesting.

It’s an exciting sequence. Butcher has this set up so you expect it’s Linda coming, you’re getting ready for how Dresden will explain his way out of this mess only for it to be a demon and things to get serious fast. We get to see Dresden thinking fast on his feet. He’s already figured out the how of his enemy, just in time for said enemy to attack.

Susan is quite a trooper in this. I don’t think I would hold together half as well as she has in this situation. She seems to fall back into reporter mode as well. She constantly asks Harry questions. Doing something familiar probably helps dealing with the stress of the situation.

And Bob was right, that love potion worked great. Next time, Harry, remember to tell her to check the label marked Escape Potion.

Chapter 14

Susan continues her amours advances, making it difficult for Harry and her to stay in the magical circle. Harry asks Bob if he could throw the escape potion to him. Bob will for a twenty-four hour leave from his skull. Harry is reluctant, being responsible for whatever trouble Bob causes, but Bob has him over the barrel and Harry is forced to agree. Bob flows out of the skull as a cloud of orange light and throws the escape potion to Harry. Harry catches the potion and gets Susan to drink it.

It started in my guts—a sort of fluttery, wobbly feeling that moved out, up through my lungs and out along my shoulders, down my arms. It also went down, over my hips and into my legs. I began to shake and quiver uncontrollably.

And then I just flew apart into a cloud of a million billion tiny pieces of Harry, each one with its own perspective and view. The room wasn’t just a square, cluttered basement to me, but a pattern of energies, grouped into specific shapes and uses. Even the demon was only a cloud of particles, slow and dense. I flowed around that cloud, up through the opening in the ceiling pattern, and outside of the apartment and into the raging nonpattern of the storm.

Harry and Susan reformed in the street outside his apartment. Susan feels ill, experience a reaction to drinking to potions but is no longer under the effects of the love potion. Susan’s car keys were left in her coat in the apartment, so the plan is to walk to Reading Road which always floods in heavy rain. Running water grounds out magic, the demon won’t be able to cross it. Thirty yards from the flood, Susan gets violently ill from the potions, and starts vomiting.

I didn’t think you’d last this long,” someone said.

I almost jumped out of my skin. I picked my staff up in both hands and turned in a slow circle, searching for the source of the voice. “Who’s there?” There, to one side, a spot of cold—not physical cold, but something deeper and darker that my other senses detected. A pooling of shadows, an illusion in the darkness between lights, gone when lightning flashed and back again when it had passed.

The Shadowman taunts Harry, boasting that he’s the one who killed him, and its only a matter of time before his demon kills him. Harry reaches out his will towards the shadow and learns its a phantom projections and sends some will through it to metaphorically slap the Shadowman. The Shadowman demands to know how Harry did that. “I went to school,” answers Harry.

The Shadowman is angered and alerts the demon to where Harry and Susan are. The demon starts rushing towards Harry. Harry throws a counterspell at the projection and, screaming in pain, the Shadowman promises death before his spell fails. Harry turns to Susan and tries to get her up, but she’s still too sick and the demon is closing the distance too fast.

Harry searches for a plan. He’s exhausted and was caught unprepared. The rain will prevent fire magic. Harry realizes he can channel lighting throw his staff. He reaches up to the storm with his will and a bolt of lighting follows it down and he sends it through his staff at the demon which exploded mere inches away with blue flame.

Harry’s legs give out and he collapses on the road next to Susan. Morgan appears out of the darkness, accusing Harry of summoning the demon. Harry protests his innocent, saying someone else summoned it. Morgan arrived to late to see the Shadowman and doesn’t believe Harry. He tells him in two days the Council will be here to put him to death and Morgan looks forward to being his executioner. Morgan leaves. A patrol car rolls up, and a pair of officer approach, preparing to arrest them and Susan complains that this is her worst night ever.

I grunted. “That’s what you get for trying to go out with a wizard.”

She glanced aside at me, and her eyes glittered darkly for a moment. She almost smiled, and there was a sort of vindictive satisfaction to her tone when she spoke.

But it’s going to make a fantastic story.”

My Thoughts

The escape potion is really creative. Turning them into wind, flowing, surging. I really love the potions, but after the second book, they almost never make an appearance. And this one has to be so useful. I don’t know why Harry doesn’t keep making it. Butcher is good about Harry learning new techniques and using them again in later books.

The villain finally makes his appearance and clearly has never read How to Be an Evil Overlord. He monologued instead of just killing Harry. He is also not as well trained. He has more power from using the storm, but is not able to stop Harry’s counterspell.

Morgan continues to be a dick, and also has the worst timing. Come on, Morgan. The guy’s naked, not the clothing options I would choose when summoning a demon.

Susan continues to be awesome. Why to turn a horrible, life threatening experience into a career enhancing story. This is why I ship her and Dresden and why it sucks that this ship has sailed. My backup ship still has a chance though.

Chapter 15

The cop who finds them, it turns out, were sent by Murphy to bring Harry to another crime scene and are surprised to find him naked. Susan explains it away as, “Just one of those things, tee-hee,” and the officers let her go. Harry gets dressed and they take him to crime scene.

Murphy and Harry share their usual banter and he leads him into the crime scene. She gives him the run down, another victim, woman, same M.O. as Jennifer and Tommy. This confirms Harry’s theory about using the storm. Murphy reveals the victim is Linda Randall which stuns Harry. Murphy leads him through the apartment to her bedroom where Linda’s body was lying on her bed, phone in her hand, her chest burst open.

Murphy explains that Linda called 911, screaming that she knew who killed Jennifer and Tommy and the phone when dead. Murphy asks if Harry as ever heard of her employer, Mr. Beckitt. Harry just shrugs. Greg and Helen Beckitt’s daughter, Amanda, was killed three years ago. She was the victim of gang violence between Marcone and a Jamaican gang. She died after three weeks on life support. Harry is speechless, having a hard time dealing with Linda’s death.

Well, Harry,” she said. Her voice was hushed, like she didn’t want to disturb the apartment’s new stillness. “What can you tell me?” There was a subtle weight to the question. She might as well have asked me what I wasn’t telling her. That’s what she meant. She took her hand out of her jacket pocket and handed me a plastic bag.

I took it. Inside was my business card, the one I’d given to Linda. It was still curled a little, where I’d had to palm it. It was also speckled with what I presumed was Linda’s blood. I looked at the part of the bag where you write the case number and the identification of the piece.

Murphy waits for Harry’s reaction. Harry claims to have a psychic premonition and explains what Linda told him. Murphy is pissed. If Harry had told her yesterday or this morning when Harry saw her, Linda might be alive. Harry protests that lots of people have his card and doesn’t know how she got it. Murphy threatens to get a warrant to arrest Harry. She pleads with Harry not to make her do that.

Harry is fearful that if he tells Murphy everything, that will make her a target for the Shadowman. The White Council also doesn’t like mortals to know about them and may remove Murphy themselves. Harry pictures Murphy dead the same way as Linda and apologizes and tells her he doesn’t know anything.

I sensed, more than saw, the hardening around her eyes, the little lines of hurt and anger. I’m not sure if a tear fell, or if she really just raised a hand to brush back some of her hair. Then she turned to the front door, and shouted, “Carmichael! Get your ass in here!”

Carmichael enters and she throws him Harry’s card and starts treating Dresden as a suspect, asking him to come down the station for questioning. Harry politely refuses,a saying he doesn’t have time tonight. Murphy tells him if he doesn’t show up tomorrow morning, she will get a warrant. Murphy lets him go, promising Harry that if he’s responsible, she will get him. Harry walks out, feeling “like a total piece of shit.”

My Thoughts

Harry you are a stupid moron. Murphy is a cop, not a civilian. You accuse the white council of being arrogant and above the authority of the law, while you do the same thing. You’re working for the police, going behind their back and concealing evidence they need to solve the crime.

You can’t have it both way, buddy!

You need to either work in the constraints of the law or admit that you are as arrogant as the Council and not work with them and just work in the background. Murphy’s a smart gal, she would be able to handle it. Hell, she probably would be safer if you told her the score.

And now you’ve pissed her off, maybe forever. Idiot!

The plot thickens. Linda works for a couple that has a vendetta against Johnny Marcone, the Shadowman is in a drug war with Johnny, and Johnny’s enforcer was killed by the Shadowman. Linda starts talking to Dresden and is now dead. Me thinks there is a connection there.

The story about the Beckitts ties in to what Harry saw in Marcone’s soulgaze, the guilt that drives the gangster. Now it is interesting in a later book (book 9) we learn that Marcone, from his own lips, was attacked by the son of the then kingpin of Chicago fearing Marcone would usurp his father. It was an assassination hit. Now, the kingpin did cover it up, so maybe the Jamaican gang is the “official” story but it is not what actually happened.

So now Harry has the White Council, the cops, and the Shadowman all against him. Doing great, buddy. And you still need to solve that pesky Victor Sells job that has nothing to do with this case. Just a big ol’ coincidence that you’re hired to investigate a man “dabbling” in magic the morning after two people are gruesomely murdered.

Click here to continue on to Part 6!

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 4

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 4

Welcome to Part 4 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 3!

Chapter 10

Dresden’s mechanic lends him a Studebaker while the Blue Beetle is in the shop. The first thing he does is call Linda Randall’s number. At first Linda is very flirty on the phone until Dresden reveals he’s calling about Jennifer Stanton. Linda gets quiet and in the background Harry can hear sounds of an airport. Linda finally says she can’t help, she’s working right now. She does not know anything about Jennifer’s murder and hangs up.

Harry deduces she is at O’Hare airport waiting to pick up her employers, the Beckitts. Harry hurries to O’Hare. At the concourse, Harry spots a silver limo in the loading zone. Harry heads to bank of pay phones and calls Linda again. He can see the driver of the silver limo move as Linda answers the phone. She lights up a cigarette, flirts briefly with Dresden, and hangs up a second time.

Harry walks over to the limo and knocks on the window. Linda rolls the window down, appraises Dresden, and guesses who he is. Linda is very flirty, and admits working for Bianca (a prissy bitch in her opinion). She and Jennifer were roommates and lovers then. They would often see Tommy Tomm together. Harry asked when she last saw Jennifer.

She took another drag, and this time I saw a small shake to her fingers, one she quickly hid. Just not quickly enough. She was nervous. Nervous enough to be shaking, and now I could see what she was up to. She was wearing the alley-cat mask, appealing to my glands, instead of my brain, and trying to distract me with it, trying to keep me from finding something.

I’m not inhuman. I can be distracted by a pretty face, or body, like any youngish man. Linda Randall was damned good at playing the part. But I do not like to be made the fool.

So, Miss Sex Goddess. What are you hiding?

Harry repeats his question and Linda stops flirting and asks if he’s a cop. Harry promises she’s not. She reluctantly tells him that she saw Jennifer on Wednesday. Jennifer wanted her to party with Tommy Tomm for his birthday. Linda had to work, so she declined. Linda admitted she hadn’t seen much of Jennifer since she left the Velvet Room. Harry asks if anyone would want to hurt Jennifer. Linda says no, Jennifer was a sweet girl.

The Beckitts arrive. Harry observes that neither were wedding rings, and both have blank faces, like survivors of German stalags. Linda lies, and says Harry is an old friend. Linda helps the Beckitts into the limo, and Mrs. Beckitt’s hand lingers intimately on Linda’s waist. Linda tells Harry to leave before she gets in trouble. Harry hands her his card and leaves.

Harry heads into a café, orders a coffee, and thinks what he should do next. He decides to track down the pizza deliver lead for the Monica Seller’s case. He goes back to the pay phones and calls the only pizza place in Lake Providence, Pizza ‘Spress.

Harry asks to talk to the driver who delivered to the Lake House on Wednesday. The guy on the phone agrees, and gets Jack, the delivery driver. Jack gets on and immediately apologizes again. Jack quickly explains that he won’t tell anyone, like he promised, and it’s none of his business what you guys were doing at the house. Harry asks what he saw, and Jack answers he saw no faces.

Harry presses Jack on what he saw, and Jack admits to seeing an orgy and some guy outside taking pictures. Jack hangs up. Harry realizes that Victor Sells is trying to cover his tracks, having already intimidated the pizza guy. The photographer explained the film canister Harry found, but not who the guy was or why he was talking pictures.

Harry returns home. Walking up to the house, a guy leaps out from behind a garbage can and hits Harry in the head with a baseball bat, knocking Harry to the ground. The attacker presses the bat against the back of Harry’s neck and threatens him with more violence if he doesn’t stop investigating. The attacker leaves. Harry manages to get into his house and collapse on into a chair.

I sat motionless until the spinning slowed down enough to allow me to open my eyes again, and until the pounding of my head calmed down. Pounding hard. Someone could have been pounding my head with a baseball bat just then, pounding my head into new and interesting shapes that were inconducive to carrying on businesslike pursuits. Someone could have been pounding Harry Dresden right into the hereafter.

I cut off that line of thought. “You are not some poor rabbit, Dresden!” I reminded myself, sternly. “You are a wizard of the old school, a spellslinger of the highest caliber. You’re not going to roll over for some schmuck with a baseball bat because he tells you to!”

Harry thinks Johnny Marcone is behind this attack. He had already once told Harry to butt out. Harry decides it prudent to start carrying his Smith & Wesson .38 Chief Special revolver with him and heads down into his lab to start working on the heart exploding spell.

My Thoughts

Linda Randall is a very jaded, young woman. She hides it with sex bunny act. She is jealous of the fact Jennifer never got jaded. While she claims she doesn’t know anything, she got scared fast when Harry started talking about Jennifer. We all see that how quickly she lies to her bosses about who Harry is. Maybe not the only lie she told.

The Beckitts are very disturbing. They both dress in suits, wear no jewelry, even their wedding rings, and their eyes and face look dead and numb. Something terrible happened to them and it seems like they almost don’t care anymore. They also have money. They are a piece to the puzzle.

I delivered pizza’s, and that whole scene where Harry calls the place and they just put on the driver doesn’t make sense. I would never let a customer talk to the driver without first knowing what he wanted. But, hey, I’m complaining about this in a world with magic.

Dresden thinks Johnny Marcone is behind the assault. This being detective fiction, the first guess is usually wrong. There are some clues to who the real culprit is if you use your brain and think, hmm, who else was intimidated in this chapter.

Chapter 11

Harry works all night and into the morning and figures out how the spell that killed Jennifer Stanton and Tommy Tomm worked. Either his calculations were wrong or he seriously underestimated the villain. Either way, Murphy needed to know.

Harry set off for run down station Murphy worked at. While waiting for Murphy, a pair of cops dragged in a handcuffed drug addict, obviously tweaking, struggling with the cops. Harry is sent upstairs and finds Murphy on the phone. She motions him to wait in the hallway. While waiting, the drug addict breaks free of the cops. He is screaming in fear of something and running blindly down the hallway towards Harry.

Harry tries to stop the man, but gets knocked down. Harry manages to reach out and grab the guys leg and trip him up, though. The drug addict looked at Harry with hugely dilated eyes.

“Wizard!” he trumpeted. “Wizard! I see you! I see you, wizard! I see the things that follow, those who walk before and He Who Walks Behind! They come, they come for you!”

The cops grab the junkie and drag him away, thanking Harry for the help. Harry asks what’s up with they guy. The cop answers that he’s high on ThreeEye, a drug that’s supposed to let you see into the spirit world. As the cops drag the junkie off, he continues to gibber about He Who Walks Behind.

Harry didn’t sense the aura about the guy signaling he had any power, so he’s confused how the junkie saw the shadow of He Who Walks Behind in Harry’s wake. Only another wizard should be able to see that with the Third Sight. When Harry was younger, an enemy sent He Who Walks Behind after Harry. It’s a badass hunter-spirit and Harry managed to beat the odds and survive. Apparently, Harry was wrong about the claims of ThreeEye.

I shuddered at the thought. The kind of things you see when you learn how to open your Third Eye could be blindingly beautiful, bring tears to your eyes—or they could be horrible things that made our worst nightmares seem ordinary and comforting. Visions of the past, the future, of the true nature of things. Psychic stains, troubled shades, spirit-folk of all description, the shivering power of the Nevernever in all its brilliant and subtle hues—and all going straight into your brain: unforgettable, permanent. Wizards quickly learn how to control the Third Eye, to keep it closed except in times of great need, or else they go mad within a few weeks.

Harry finds the thought of ordinary mortals inflicted with the Third Sight troubling. Even if they aren’t driven mad, monsters garbed by illusions, would react badly to their disguise being penetrated by the hapless mortal.

Murphy calls Harry into her office and hands him some coffee, charging him 50 cents. The first thing she does is unplug her computer so Harry doesn’t accidentally short it out and then asks Harry what he’s got. Harry explains the spell was done with thaumaturgy and was near impossible to pull off. They used fingernails or hair of the victims and a sacrificial doll to rip out their hearts and it would take a staggering amount of energy to pull off. Harry thinks he could do it to someone he really hated and not die. Two people would kill him. Murphy asks if they are looking for the Arnold Schwarzenegger of wizards.

Harry explains that a ritual spell where multiple wizards combine their energy could also accomplish the spell. As many as thirteen (the max possible). They all have to know each other and trust each other very well for it to work. A lot of fanaticism. Murphy thinks this is an attack on Bianca, but Harry reveals he saw Bianca last night and she isn’t involved.

Murphy is pissed at Harry, and he defends himself that Bianca would never talk to a mortal, but would talk to a wizard. Murphy forgives him on the condition he tells her what she said. Harry relays the info, and says this was probably aimed at Marcone. Harry explains what he just learned about ThreeEye and speculates the wizard who killed Jennifer and Tommy is probably the supplier behind the drug and is in a gang war with Marcone.

Murphy wants the names of anyone in Chicago who could cast the spell. Harry balks and Murphy threatens to arrest him for obstruction of justice. Harry says if he had any information he would share it and complains of the room spinning. Murphy exclaims that she can tell someone has already attacked Harry. Its her job to be in danger, not Harry’s. Harry starts to answer but the room begins to swim and he passes out.

My Thoughts

Concussion suck. Harry you really should see a doctor after a head wound like that.

ThreeEye could give you the greatest or worst trip of your life and is more addictive then crack. Of course their going to be friction with the mundane drug dealers. The escalation of magic into Chicago’s crimeworld is a continuing motif of the series.

Butcher Third Sight is a neat slant on a classic bit of magic from mythology. The great strength of the series, other than Harry’s snark and obstinacy, is Butcher incorporating mythology into his world, making them feel organic, and yet leaving them true to their roots. Thaumaturgy is another good example, using the classic Voodoo Doll to explain how it works.

Murphy and Dresden argument at the end of the chapter is the central one in their relationship. To Murphy, she’s the cop and he’s the civilian. No matter how skilled he is in magic, she sees him that way. Harry, as is obvious, sees himself as above her when it comes to supernatural stuff. Harry’s arrogance and Murphy’s sense of duty butt heads here and almost goes too far before Harry’s head trauma nap happens.

Chapter 12

Harry wakes up on the floor of Murphy’s office and she asks who hit him in the head. Harry lies and says he fell down the stairs. Murphy doesn’t think Harry’s fit to drive and tells him she will take him home. Harry protests, tries to stand up, and instead throws up. Murphy helps him clean up.

Murphy takes Harry home and helps him inside into a chair. The phone ring and Harry answers. It’s Linda Randall. Harry, still a little out of it, asks Lisa if she’s naked. Murphy arches an eyebrow as Linda gives a throaty laugh. Linda offers to meet Harry tonight. Harry thinks he has something to do tonight, but he can’t remember so agrees. Linda asks were, and Harry says he doesn’t have a car and offers to meet her at a 7-11 by his place. Linda counters by saying she’ll go home and freshen up, make herself pretty, and be at his place around 9 pm.

Murphy appeared again as soon as I hung up the phone. “Tell me you didn’t just make a date, Dresden.”

“You’re just jealous.”

Murphy snorted. “Please. I need more a man than you to keep me happy.” She started to get an arm beneath me to help me up. “You’d break like a dry stick, Dresden. You’d better get to bed before you get any more delusions.

Harry remembers he needs to do something. Murphy protests, saying he needs to get some rest. Harry just needs to give Monica Sells a call to check in. Harry calls the number she left and a boy answers the phone and Harry says he’s Monica’s cousin from Vermont. Monica answers, and nervously says she doesn’t need Harry’s services anymore and he can keep the money.

Harry is perplexed, but Murphy insists he go lie down. She helps him to his bed, gives him some water and aspirin, and checks his eyes with her penlight. She helped him undressed, tucked him, and kissed his forehead. As she was walking out, the phone rang again. She answered but no one was on the line. Murphy hangs up. Harry thanks her, calling her Karrin. Murphy smiles and leaves. As Harry drifted off to sleep, wondering if that was Monica calling back, and if not, who didn’t want to speak to Murphy.

My Thoughts

This is a short chapter, but really its sweet. Murphy must be a good friend to help you clean up vomit. She is very motherly to Dresden, not her usual gruff self. We get to see the true Murphy here, not the cop mode she usually is in. Between her job, and the old boys club mentality of the police, Murphy is usually more of a hard ass then she is in this chapter (wait until you see her house). And for the Harry-Murphy shippers, any women who you can vomit in front of and she still likes you is a keeper.

I am not a Harry-Murphy shipper though, even if the later books really seem to be about to embark on that voyage. I like the idea of them being really good friends without all the sex stuff, but the two do have a certain amount of sexual chemistry that grows. My ship, unfortunately, has sailed do to…messy complications, but my back-up one still has a chance.

Harry has indeed forgotten something import when he made his date with Lisa. He had already made a date with Susan tonight. Harry will undoubtedly learn to regret the mistake of inviting two women to his place at the same time. If this were a comedy, wacky hijinks are about to ensue.

This is a noir detective novel dressed with supernatural clothing.

Click here to continue on to Part 5!

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 3

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 2!

Chapter 7

Harry is startled by the appearance of the man with the sword. He almost attacks the man with magic, but instead causally greets the man, calling him Morgan. Harry explains that Toot had a choice and was not a mortal, so it wasn’t breaking the Fourth Law. Morgan calls that a technicality. Morgan is a Warden of the White Council, assigned to watch over Harry. Wardens are the police and executioners of the White Council.

Harry explains, he is on a missing person case and just called up the faerie to get some information. Since he is not using actual mind-control on the faerie, technically he did not violate the law, a technicality Harry is prepared to hide behind. Morgan doesn’t think it’s worth the effort of bringing it to the counsel, so sheathes his sword. Harry starts to leave, when Morgan grabs his shoulder and tells Harry, he’s not finished with him yet.

I didn’t dare mess around with Morgan when he was acting in his role as a Warden of the White Council. But he wasn’t wearing that hat now. Once he’d put the sword away, he was acting on his own, without any more official authority than any other man—or at least, that was the technical truth. Morgan was big on technicalities. He had scared the heck out of me and annoyed the heck out of me, in rapid succession. Now he was trying to bully me. I hate bullies.

So I took a calculated risk, used my free hand, and hit him as hard as I could in the mouth.

Morgan is incensed that Harry struck him. Harry tells him he is happy to cooperate on Council business, but Harry doesn’t have to put up with this on personal business. Morgan calls Harry an arrogant fool and Harry tenses himself for a fight. No law of magic protects Harry from Morgan punching him back, and Morgan has more experience and 100 lbs. on him.

Morgan accuses Harry of killing the two people at the hotel with magic. Morgan doesn’t know how, but he will figure it out and bring the evidence before the Council. Harry is taken aback that Morgan, and by extension, the White Council, thinks Harry is the killer. Harry realizes as the only wizard in Chicago that has killed with magic, albeit in self-defense, Harry is the prime suspect for the Council.

Harry protests, saying he is helping the police find the killer. Morgan is dismissive of mortal authority, and thinks Harry is just setting someone up to take the fall for the mortals.

“Good night, Morgan,” I told him. I started to walk away again, before I could let my mouth get me into more trouble.

He moved faster than I would have given a man his age credit for. His fist went across my jaw at approximately a million miles an hour, and I spun down tot he dirt like a string-cut puppet. For several long moments, I was unable to do anything at all, even breathe. Morgan loomed over me.

“We’ll be watching you, Dresden.” He turned and started walking away, the shadows of the evening quickly swallowing up his black coat. His voice drifted back to me. “We’ll find out what really happened.”

As Harry checks whether Morgan broke his jaw, his thoughts drift back to the reason he is under the Doom of Damocles. When he was a teenager, the wizard he was apprenticed to tried to seduce him to Black wizardry. Harry resisted and his mentor tried to kill him. Harry, by luck more than skill, managed to kill his mentor with his magic. However, the First Law of Magic is “Thou shall not kill.” Harry managed to convince the White Council it was self-defense, so instead of the death penalty, they put him on parole. One slip up, and he will be executed.

Finding the real killer has become a lot more important for Harry and he is now more resolved to go speak with Bianca the Vampire behind Murphy’s back.

My Thoughts

Morgan is a dick!

We start to see why Harry has such a problem with authority figures. If my mentor tried to seduce me to the dark side and then I was force to kill him, I might have a similar problem. And of course, the other wizards put him on trial instead of giving him a medal for getting rid of a bad dude. And now he’s the equivalent to an innocent man who’s been in prison and is out on parole and everyone still thinks he’s the bad guy.

Pretty big chip to carry.

Harry has a hard time backing down. It’s what makes him a great hero and always getting into dangerous situations, but he also talks himself into worse problems and makes bitter enemies as a result of his lack of tact.

And I’m glad Harry is learning that sometimes its better to shut up then provoke the guy that just cold cocked you so hard he dropped you. He doesn’t quite understand diplomacy (and may never will), but at least he has some modicum of self-control and doesn’t talk himself into getting killed. Harry walks that fine line.

There is also a lot more to the confrontation with Harry’s mentor that we get latter on. My understanding about Storm Front is Butcher wrote it years before he started writing the rest of the Dresden novels and there seem to be some inconsistencies in Storm Front from the latter novels. For instance, Wardens always wear a gray cloak, it’s the symbol of their office. Morgan’s description doesn’t have him wearing his in this chapter, and he mentions killing Bianca with a stake in the next chapter, but that would make her Black Court Vampire, and she is a Red Court, something else not established until book 3.

Chapter 8

Harry lives in a basement apartment. Mister, a large tomcat that Harry found badly injured three years ago, waits at the bottom of the stairs for Harry to let in. Like most cats, Mister believed the apartment was his, and merely tolerates the presences of Harry. Because Harry has such an effect on technology, Harry has no power in his apartment. Luckily, there is a fireplace that works.

Harry lights a fire for Mister and then dons a flannel bathrobe. Harry heads down into the subbasement where his lab is. The real reason wizards wear robes is to stay warm in their labs. On the floor of his lab is a brass summoning circle. The walls are lined with shelves full of various ingredients in Tupperware, jars, and other containers. Several books, a row of his notebooks, and a human skull, also rest on the shelves. The first thing Harry does is order Bob to wake up.

Bob the Skull grumbled something in Old French, I think, though I got lost when he got to the anatomical improbabilities of bullfrogs. He yawned, and his bony teeth rattled when his mouth clicked closed again. Bob wasn’t really a human skull. He was a spirit of air—sort of like a faery, but different. He made his residences inside the skull that had been prepared for him several hundred years ago, and it was his job to remember things. For obvious reasons, I can’t use a computer to store information and keep track of the slowly changing laws of quasiphysics. That’s why I have Bob. He had worked with dozens of wizards over the years, and it had given him a vast repertoire of knowledge—that, and a really cocky attitude. “Blasted wizards,” he mumbled.

Harry tells Bob that he wants to make a couple of potions and explains the situation to Bob. Bob tells Harry he could help, if Harry would let him out of the skull. Harry refuses, remembering the trouble Bob caused at a sorority last time. For a spirit of intellect, Bob is really obsessed with sex. Bob calls it academic research, and Harry calls it voyeurism. The pair argue, and Bob demands to know how long its been since Harry has been on a date. Harry reveals his dinner plans with Susan on Saturday.

Bob asks for a description, and after Harry describes Susan Bob asks how Harry got such a pretty girl to out with him. Harry changes the subject and tells Bob they’re going to make an escape potion. Bob refuses to help Harry with the escape potion unless he also makes a love potion. Harry threatens to throw Bob down the deepest well he can find, but Bob knows he is far to valuable to get rid of.

Harry resists the urge to smash the skull and counts to 30 to calm down. Love potions are cheap and would give Bob a vicarious thrill. Harry doesn’t have to use it, after all. Harry tells Bob he’ll make the love potion.

Bob’s eye lights came up warily. “You’re sure? You’ll do the love potion, just like I say?”

“Don’t I always make the potions like you say, Bob?”

“What about that diet potion you tried?”

“Okay. That one mistake.”

And the antigravity potion, remember that?”

“We fixed the floor! It was no big deal!”

“And the—“

“Fine, fine,” I growled. “You don’t have to rub it in. Now cough up the recipes.”

Every potion has eight ingredients: a liquid base, something to engage all five sense, something for the mind, and something for the spirit. Every potion is different for every person making the potion and Bob is very good at understanding which ingredients would be needed for which wizard making it.

For the escape potion: liquid base (Jolt cola), smell (motor oil), touch (bird’s feather), taste (chocolate covered espresso beans), sight (a shadow), hearing (mouse scampers), mind (bus ticket), and spirit (broken chain). This version of the escape potion will turn the imbiber into the wind for a few minutes. Harry is unsure of it, never having heard of this potion before. Bob says it will work since he is an air spirit.

For the love potion: liquid base (tequila), smell (perfume), touch (shredded lace), taste (dark chocolate), sight (candlelight), hearing (sigh), mind (fifty dollar bill), and spirit (shredded pages of a romance novel). Harry objects to this potion a lot. Usually, champagne is used as the base. Harry thinks the tequila will produce a sleazier result. Bob wanted the ashes of a love letter for the spirit and powdered diamond for the mind, but Harry was fresh out of both. Luckily, Harry got a paid in fifties by Monica today, and Bob has a collection of trashy romance novels.

The next step was infusing the ingredients with magic to transform them into potions. Harry gathers his emotional energy (worry, annoyance, and stubbornness) and focus them on the potions while muttering quasi-Latin phrases. Finished, and tired from the effort, Harry puts the potions into squeezable sports bottles and clearly labels them. Bob assures Harry that these are top notch potions.

Exhausted, Harry climbs up the ladder and stumbles to his bed and lies down. Mister, as usual, climbs up on his bed, gets settle, and begins “purring like a miniature outboard motor.”

My Thoughts

Mister the Cat is very much a cat. Arrogant, thinks he is in charge, and that Harry is there to serve him. I’m not a cat person for the reasons Jim Butcher lists in the story, but Harry likes his cat, and he is useful in some of the latter books.

Bob the Skull is awesome. He and Harry make a great odd couple, always bickering, Bob always criticizing his love life. Harry almost always has to bribe Bob to get him to help out. But Bob knows when Harry is really desperate and will help then.

The method Butcher came up with for potions is really great and creative. And the fact that harry has such weird things stored: “a flickering shadow in a handkerchief” or a jar of sighs. The potions are made out of such mundane items, though a few are magically held. It is really neat. I wish he used potions more often in the later books, because I always enjoyed the ingredients he comes up with for them.

And poor Harry, his last fifty for the love potion. There goes it being cheap.

Chapter 9

Harry is awoken late Friday afternoon by a call from Murphy. Despite having no electricity in his apartment, he does have a phone. She asks for a progress report, and he says nothing yet, lying that he worked on it all last night. The case is not going well, and Murphy needs the info pronto. Murphy, and her unit, are the scapegoats of the Chicago PD. Any unsolvable crime was dumped in their laps. Harry asks if she spoke to Bianca yet.

Another swear word. “That bitch won’t talk to us. Just smiles and nods and blows smoke, makes small talk, and crosses her legs. You should have seen Carmichael drooling.”

Harry floats the option of him speaking with Bianca, and Murphy shuts it down and explicitly tells him not to go to the Velvet Room. Harry lies, but Murphy hears it in his voice (Harry is a bad liar) and threatens to lock him up. Harry pulls the old bad connection gag and hangs up on her.

Harry eats and gets ready for his visit to Bianca after nightfall. The most important part of wizardy is preparation. Harry gets his cane, puts a silver knife up his sleeve, grabs the escape potion, a white handkerchief containing sunlight, and a silver pentacle talisman that belonged to his mother. Harry leaves behind his staff and blasting rod, not wanting to spook Bianca by bringing the equivalent of a flamethrower and machine gun.

The Velvet Room resided in a mansion on the lake. Harry pulls up to the gate and his car brakes down. A guard comes out and Harry tells him he’s hear to see Bianca and asks if the guard can call his mechanic, Mike, to get his car towed. Harry walks up the driveway but is stopped and searched, his knife and cane confiscated. Harry has to rely solely on magic now. Luckily, the guard didn’t take his pentacle, not realizing to Harry it is a symbol of his faith in magic, and like a crucifix to a believer, will have the same effect on a vampire.

Bianca the Vampiress appears to be a very beautiful women in a black dress with a plunging neckline. They exchange pleasantries, and Bianca asks him what he wants from her. Harry puts his hand in his pocket, grabbing the handkerchief. Harry tells her he’s hear about Jennifer Stanton’s murder.

I had all of a second’s warning. Bianca’s eyes narrowed, then widened, like those of a cat about to spring. Then she was coming at me over the table, faster than a breath, her arms extended toward my throat.

Harry pulls out the handkerchief and the sunlight hits Bianca like a sledgehammer, throwing her back. Even though Harry moved first, her fingernails still managed to graze his throat. The sunlight sent burned skin flying off Bianca and her true form is revealed.

I had never seen a real vampire before. I would have time to be terrified later. I took in the details as I tugged my talisman off my neck. It had a bat-like face, horrid and ugly, the head too big for its body. Gaping, hungry jaws. Its shoulders were hunched and powerful. Membranous wings stretched between the joints of its almost skeletal arms. Flabby black breasts hung before it, spilling out of the black dress that no longer looked feminine. Its eyes were wide, black, and staring, and a kind of leathery, slimy hide covered its flesh, like an inner tube lathered with Vaseline, though there were tiny holes corroded in it by the sunlight I had brought with me.

Harry uses his pentacle to keep her at bay and tells her he just came to talk. The vampire accuses Harry of killing Jennifer, one her prostitutes. Harry tries to explain that he is just helping the police. The pair are at a standoff, and both agree to stand down. Harry agrees and lowers his amulet and she resumes her disguise. Harry can’t get the image of the true Bianca out of his head, and she is not quite as beautiful to him anymore.

Bianca explains that Tommy Tomm was just a regular at the Velvet room. Bianca is protective of her girls and Tommy was a good guy. She sent Jennifer to him that night. Harry asks if anyone saw Jennifer on a regular basis, someone who would want to kill her. Bianca says no.

Bianca is still furious at Harry, and he realizes she is embarrassed that he saw her real form. Bianca wants to be seen as beautiful, and Harry had destroyed that illusion. Bianca swears that she would kill him if they hadn’t agreed on a truce. Harry warns her that would be dangerous, that she has something to lose. Even if she did kill him, his death curse would get her.

Bianca breaks and begins to cry and Harry feels bad. Dully, she tells Harry that Jennifer had a friend, Linda Randall. Linda used to work at the Velvet room, but now works for a rich couple who wanted a servant who does more than just clean. Bianca offers to get Harry her phone number and Harry thanks her.

Bianca smells the blood from Harry’s neck wound and orders him to leave, trying to control her hunger. She tells him Rachel will bring down the numbers. Harry gets up and as he leaves, Bianca swears she will get revenge on Harry. As Harry exits Bianca’s office, Rachel, a lovely young woman, passes Harry and enters Bianca’s office. Harry watcher her pull up the sleeve of her blouse and offer her wrist to Bianca.

Horrified and fascinated, Harry watches Bianca feed on Rachel and notices the the girl act like she’s on a narcotic. Bianca cuts her wrist open with her fangs and laps up the blood with her tongue. Rachel begins moaning in pleasure. Harry quickly heads outside, disturbed how Rachel willingly went to Bianca and allowed her to feed off her like Bianca was her lover. Harry speculates that Bianca’s saliva was a narcotic.

Outside, the security guard returns Harry’s weapons and a tow truck has arrived and is hooking up the blue beetle. A call comes to the guardhouse, and the guard hands Harry a piece of paper. Harry asks why Rachel didn’t bring it down.

He [the guard] didn’t say anything. But his jaw tightened, and I saw his eyes flick toward the house, where his mistress was. He swallowed. Rachel wasn’t coming out of the house, and Fido was afraid.

I took the paper. I kept my hand from shaking as I looked at it.

On it was a phone number. And a single word. Regret.

I folded the piece of paper in half and put it away into the pocket of my duster. Another enemy. Super. At least with my hands in my pockets, Fido couldn’t see them shaking. Maybe I should have listened to Murphy. Maybe I should have stayed at home and played with some nice, safe, forbidden black magic instead.

My Thoughts

An intense chapter.

Bianca is not your typical vampire. In latter books, Butcher will call her type a Red Court vampire. He appearance, tuning into a bat monster, and how in latter books you kill a Red Court vampire, are very similar to chiropteran of Blood the Last Vampire. Both Blood and Storm Front came out the same year, so I can only assume they both drew on a similar monster from mythology or both came up with same creature independently of each other.

Harry’s encounter with Bianca will have repercussions down the road. Butcher is very good at making Harry experience the consequences of his actions, whether they were the right thing to do or not. Harry will make a lot of mistakes through the series and they always come to bite him in the ass.

Bianca is an interesting character. She is very protective of her employees, making sure her johns will not hurt them. She tries to kill Dresden because she thinks he is the only one in Chicago who could have killed Jennifer. When Harry hurts her and she reveals her true form, she is embarrassed. She is a vain vampire, one who prides herself on appearing seductive and beautiful.

Supernatural creatures, especially ones that have been around a few centuries, are very big on old world hospitality. When oaths are sworn for truces, they are usually honored. Although when dealing with such creatures, they tend to hold to the letter of their oaths.

NOTE: Older editions call Rachel by the name Paula. When Butcher wrote a later book where Bianca returns, he mixed the name up and called her Rachel. Newer editions of Storm Front of fixed this error.

Click her read Part 4!

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 1

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Intro!

Chapter 1

Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a Chicago P.I. struggling to pay the bills. His mailman, after mocking him for his crazy claims, dropped off a late notice on his office rent. Harry isn’t your usual P.I., he’s a wizard. The only wizard to advertise in the phone book:

HARRY DRESDEN—WIZARD
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advise. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other
Entertainment

It had been a slow couple of months for Harry. He was late on February’s rent, and it looked like he was going to be late on March. The only client he had recently was a drugged out country singer who thought his mansion was haunted (it wasn’t). Out of the blue, Harry’s phone rings.

On the line is a woman who is looking to hire Dresden to find her husband. She is very nervous and when Dresden asks her name, she pauses for a moment before answering as “Monica.” Dresden thinks she is scared to give her real name to a wizard because a wizard could use it against them. After some coaxing, Dresden convinces her to come down to his office at 2:30 pm. Harry hangs up and the phone rings again. It is Detective Karrin Murphy, Chicago P.D.

Karrin Murphy was the director of Special Investigations out of downtown Chicago, a de facto appointee of the Police Commissioner to investigate any crimes dubbed unusual. Vampire attacks, troll mauraudings, and fairy abductions of children didn’t fit in very neatly on a police report—but at the same time, people got attacked, infants got stole, property was damage or destroyed. And someone had to look into it.

Harry was a consultant for Murphy in the supernatural and she had a pair of dead bodies at the Madison Hotel. Magic The tone of Murphy’s voice scares Dresden. It must be a bad scene to shake her up.

Dresden leaves a note for “Monica Ask-Me-No-Questions,” saying he’ll be back for her appointment and heads out to the Madison. As he heads down the stairs, Dresden speculates that if magic was involved in the murders, then the killer would want to take out the only consulting wizard to Chicago P.D.

My Thoughts

The moment I read Dresden’s ad in the phone book, I knew I was going to love this book. I devoured it, finished Storm Front in one sitting and had to go and get the next in the series. Unlike in a lot of urban fantasy, our hero doesn’t hide who he is from the muggles. And love the Tolkien nod. Dresden is definitely not subtle but is quick to anger. And snark.

I will admit, the one thing I dislike is Dresden’s effect on technology. I’ve never been a fan of magic and technology as mutual exclusive. I can get that maybe he’s sending out energy that may cause some interference, but some of the things he effects are purely mechanical and not sensitive electronics.

Suddenly, Dresden now has two completely unrelated cases coming on the heels of each other, and one is a gruesome murder. But, since we are into a noirish detective pulp novel territory, I have a feeling they will intersect before the end.

Figuring out how everything relates in a Dresden novel is always fun. And they only get crazier in intersecting plot points later.

Chapter 2

Dresden meets Murphy out front of the Madison. Karrin Murphy is a blonde, petite woman, who could kick your ass. She has a black belt in aikido and several tournament trophies. Murphy makes fun of Dresden choice in jackets, a black canvas duster, saying it belongs on the set of El Dorado. Harry makes a deliberate point to beat her to the door so he can hold it open for her. Harry has a strong chivalrous tendencies. As an added bonus, he knows it irritates Murphy.

On the elevator ride up, Harry notices Murphy is more tense then usual. When the doors of the elevator opens, the coppery smell of blood fills the air. Murphy leads Harry into a lavish hotel suite. The outer room has all the signs of a romantic liaison: champagne on ice, rose petals strewn on the floor, low, sensual music in the CD player.

Murphy heads into the bedroom, leaving Harry to poke around the first room. Detective Carmichael, Murphy’s partner, enters. Carmichael has a strong dislike of Dresden, thinking he is a fraud and has no problem expressing this opinion. After some verbal judo, Carmichael leads Dresden into the bedroom. Dresden is not prepared for what he finds in there.

They must have died sometime in the night before, as rigor mortis had set in. They were on the bed; she was astride him, body leaned back, back bowed like a dancer’s, the curves of her breasts making a lovely outline. He stretched beneath her, a lean and powerfully built man, arms reaching out and grasping at the sating sheets, gathering them in fists. Had it been an erotic photograph, it would have made a striking tableau.

Except that the lovers’ rib cages on the upper left side of their torsos had expanded outwards, through their skin, the ribs jabbing out like ragged, snapped knives.

Harry Dresden focus on the scene, ignoring the gibbering voice in his head telling him to get out. The woman was in her twenties, the man in forties. He has scars on knuckles and a scar from a knife wound on his stomach. Murphy asks if they are dealing with magic.

“Either that or it was really incredible sex,” I told her.

Carmichael snorted.

At that joke, however, Dresden’s self control flees him, and he darts out of the room to vomit in a bucket left by Carmichael just for that occasion. After vomiting, Dresden thinks on the scene. Someone had used magic, broken the First Law. The White Council would not be pleased. This was definitely not the work of some monster from the Nevernever. It was the work of a human wizard.

For Harry, magic is life, and the thought of someone twisting that force to kill sickens him. Murphy asks Harry for his interpretation on what happens. Harry explains that there are two ways to do this. The first is Evocation, which is direct and messy. Harry doesn’t think this is the method since the killer would have had to been in the room and would have left some physical evidence.

The second method is Thaumaturgy, a school of magic where you perform something on a small scale to effect something larger, like using a voodoo doll. The killer would need a part of the victim: hair, fingernails, blood. Harry also thinks that the killer knew the victim and that it was a woman. Carmichael thinks this is BS, but Murphy asks Harry to explain.

“The way magic works. Whenever you do something with it, it comes from inside of you. Wizards have to focus on what they’re trying to do, visualize it, believe in it, to make it work. You can’t make something happen that isn’t a part of you, inside. The killer could have murdered them both and made it look like an accident, but she did it this way. To get it done this way, she would have had to want them dead for very personal reasons, to be willing to reach inside them like that. Revenge, maybe. Maybe you’re looking for a lover or a spouse.

Harry further explains that the emotions released during sex would make a path for the magic. Murphy asks why Harry thinks it was a woman. Harry thinks that a lot of hate went into this and women are better at hate then men are. “This feels like feminine vengeance of some kind to me.”

Murphy asks if a man could do this and Harry isn’t sure, he’s never done the calculations on what it would take to do this spell to begin with. Murphy wants Harry to figure it out. Harry lies and says he’s not sure he can figure it out.

Harry asks who the victims are, and Carmichael gets angry. Murphy asks her partner for coffee and he stalks off. Murphy explains the woman is Jennifer Stanton who worked at the Velvet Room. The Velvet Room is a high class brothel run by a vampiress named Bianca. Murphy wanders if this is a vampire territorial dispute. Dresden doubts Bianca is fighting a human sorcerer.

The man was Tommy Tomm, a bodyguard to mobster “Gentleman” Johnny Marcone who ran Chicago’s organized crime. Marcone had civilized crime to an extent. He believed violence was bad for business of making money.

Murphy confronts Dresden on his lie and wants to know why. Dresden has never told her about the White Council, the governing body of wizards, and how he has the Doom of Damocles (Wizard probation) hanging over him. If the council found out about him researching a murder spell, he would be executed. Harry tells Murphy he can’t research the spell without telling her why he can’t.

Murphy gets pissed, and threatens to stop using Dresden as a consultant. Harry needs the consulting gig to pay the bills and caves in, hoping the Council would not find out what he’s doing, or at least, understand why he was researching the spell.

Murphy walks Dresden out of the hotel, and Harry remembers his appointment with Monica, and races back to his office at a quick run because he’s late. A few blocks he slows to a walk while a blue Cadillac pulls up and a large man steps out. Two more men step behind Harry and they tell him to get into the car.

“I like to walk. It’s good for the heart.”

“You don’t get in the car, it isn’t good for your legs,” the man [Hendricks] growled.

Dresden peers into the car where a man in a sports jacket and jeans waits. The man wants to talk to Dresden and offers him a ride back to his office. The man is Johnny Marcone. Dresden glances at Hendricks, who growls under his breath like Cujo.

So I got into the back of the Caddy with Gentleman Johnny Marcone.

It was turning out to be a very busy day. And I was still late for my appointment.

My Thoughts

Karrin Murphy’s description reminds me a lot of Buffy Summers, a petite, blonde girl that looks like a high school cheerleader but who can kick your ass. While her personality isn’t Buffy’s, the deliberate contrast of stereotypes is.

I love the banter and smart alec remarks in the Dresden novels. And they begin with Murphy making fun of his jacket and Dresden deliberately and gallantly holding the door open for her to annoy her. Dresden is a little bit of a chauvinist (as he will readily admit). He also can never pass up an opportunity to annoy someone.

The banter continues with a more antagonistic bent with the introduction of Detective Carmichael. A more traditional cop who thinks Dresden is a con artist, albeit one that does deliver results.

Damn! Having your heart explode in your chest is a nasty way to go. I like the touch as Dresden is trying to keep it together and be professional while confronted with his first ever gruesome crime scenes.

The magic of the Dresdenverse, like most of the supernatural elements in the universe, is drawn from real world mythology. We have a mix of Egyptian, West African, and Germanic with probably others I’m completely missing. There are rules to magic and Butcher is good at explaining those rules and, more importantly, following them.

Like all good noir detective stories, our hero is between the rock and the hard place (something Dresden should just resign himself to). The Doom of Damocles is an awesome name for probation. Having a (metaphorical) sword hanging over your head must spur all kinds of motivation for good behavior.

Harry chauvinistically thinks a woman is responsible for the murders. This being a mystery, the first guess is invariable wrong (and if Dresden figured out what’s going on until the end, then where would the fun of the novel be?)

And lastly, Hendricks has his nickname. Not sure if Hendricks ever has an actual line, or if he just looms intimidating and making the occasional growl through the series.

Chapter 3

Marcone wants to retain Dresden’s services, to keep Dresden from investigating these murders. Marcone offers to pay Dresden’s rate ($50/hour plus expenses) for the next two weeks. Dresden dodges answering and thinks about diving out of the car while it’s driving. Marcone offers to double his fee (which comes out to $2400 dollars a day).

“It isn’t the money, John,” I told him. I lazily locked my eyes onto his. “I just don’t think it’s going to work out.”

To my surprise, he didn’t look away.

Those who deal in magic learn to see the world in a slightly different light than everyone else. You gain a perspective you had never considered before, a way of thinking that would just never have occurred to you without exposure to the things a wizard sees and hears.

When you look into someone’s eyes, you see them in that other light. And, for just a second they see you in the same way. Marcone and I looked at one another.

Whenever a Wizard and someone with a soul make eye contact for more than half a second, a soulgaze happens. Harry sees into Marcone’s soul. He is a warrior at heart. He gets what he wants in the most efficiently manner. He is dedicated to his people. While he makes his money off crime, he tries to minimize the suffering. Not out of caring, but because it made better business. He is furious over Tommy Tomm’s murder. His territory has been attacked and he will have revenge. In a dim corner lurked a secret shame. Marcone did something in his past he would give anything to undo, even spill blood. He drew strength and resolve from that dark place.

Harry realizes that Marcone wanted a peak into Harry’s soul and that is the reason Marcone got him alone. While Harry was gazing Marcone’s soul, Marcone gazed his. Unlike most people who get pale (or faint in the case of one person[Susan]), he just looked thoughtful. Dresden feels angered that Marcone duped him into the soulgaze.

Marcone, having taken Dresden’s measure, rescinds his offer. The car pulls up to Dresden’s building and Marcone offers him some advise. Dresden should stay out of this, it is on Marcone’s side of the fence and he will deal with it.

“Are you threatening me?” I asked him. I didn’t think he was, but I didn’t want him to know that . It would have helped if my voice hadn’t been shaking.”

“No,” he said, frankly. “I have too much respect for you to resort to something like that. They say that you’re the real think, Mister Dresden. A real magus.”

“They also say I’m nutty as a fruitcake.”

I choose which ‘they’ I listen to very carefully.” Marcone said. “Think about what I’ve said, Mister Dresden? I do not think our respective lines of work need overlap often. I would as soon not make an enemy of you over this matter.”

Dresden threatens Marcone, saying Marcone wouldn’t want him for an enemy. Marcone chastise him for rudeness and Dresden gives a smart alec response. Dresden exits the car and Hendricks gives him a dirty look, before driving off. Dresden is still shaking from the encounter. He is worried that Marcone, like a good predator, smell fear from Dresden and would think him weak.

But on the plus side, he wasn’t going to be late for that appointment.

My Thoughts

Marcone is an interesting character. It is never personal with him, always business. He is very different from the typical Italian mobster, full of passions and outburst. Butcher describes him like a football coach and Hendricks as his linebacker. It seems to me that a typical mob boss would just have his goons rough up Dresden with the threat of more violence to come if he didn’t back off. Marcone, instead, tries money.

He always appeals to greed over intimidation.

The soulgaze concept is really neat. The ability to learn about someone on such an intimate level, no wonder Dresden and people who no anything don’t look him in the eye. Which included Murphy in the last chapter. Marcone’s shame will come back at a latter point, so don’t forget, and it is a driving force that triggers the plot of a later novel.

Dresden response to fear is to make jokes, and it is on full display here. He tells Hendricks to wear his seat belt, quotes safety statistics, and when Hendricks growls at him, Dresden gives him the biggest, most annoying smile he can.

Click here to continue onto Part 2!

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Reread of Storm Front: Intro

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Intro

stormfrontLike many of my favorite books, I stumbled onto the Storm Front by accident. I was browsing the bookstore, looking for something new to read. There was a series I hadn’t noticed. A long series, already eight books, the newest in hardback. I pulled Storm Front off the shelf, reading the back, and something about the idea of a wizard private investigator in Chicago struck my fancy.

I bought it.

Excited by my new prospect, I was reading the book before my roommate, Sean, had even pulled his car out of the parking spot. It didn’t take me long to get hooked on this book. It was Dresden’s yellow pages ad that did it.

HARRY DRESDEN—WIZARD
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advise. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other
Entertainment

It just struck my fancy to see this ad in the yellow pages that made me fall in love. I devoured the book and soon I had all eight that were out and began eagerly waiting for more from Jim Butcher. The series is still growing strong all these years later as we wait for Book 15 to come out. Butcher has managed to bottle real magic with the series.

Be warned. There are SPOILERS ahead. It’s a given that I’ll be spoiling this book and may touch on themes that happen later in the series, but I will keep those to a minimum. This is an amazing book series. While each novel is a standalone story (though that line did blur with the last few), there is an overarching mythology and plot points spawned from this very book. If a character survives and had a modicum of impact on the story, expect their return. Butcher gathers a rich tableau of allies, enemies, and frenemies for Harry Dresden while weaving myths from every culture into a seamless universe.

So lets dive into an amazing urban fantasy series!

If you haven’t gotten bored yet, click her for Part 1

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