Tag Archives: Jim Butcher

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 8

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 8

Welcome to Part 8 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 7!

Chapter 22

Harry reaches his building and races up the stairs to his office to come to Murphy’s rescue. He pauses outside the open door and calls out Murphy’s name. No answer. Inside the office, he hears labored breathing and a scuttling sound. He also smells gunpowder. Angered, Harry strides into his office and surveys the room.

Murphy was lying behind Harry’s desk, blood staining her left shoulder. Harry kneels down next to her and checks her injury. There is a lot of swelling, and Harry realizes she’s been poisoned and calls 911 for an ambulance. In pain, Murphy accuses Harry of setting her up. Murphy handcuffs herself to Harry.

“You’re under arrest,” she wheezed. “You son of a bitch. Wait till I get you in an interrogation room. You aren’t going anywhere.”

I stared at her, stunned. “Murph,” I stammered. “My God. You don’t know what you’re doing.”

“Like hell,” she said, her lip lifting in a ghost of its usual snarl. She twisted her head around, grimacing in pain, and squinted at me. “You should have talked to me this morning. Got you now, Dresden.” She broke off in a panting gasp, and added, “You jerk.”

“You stubborn bitch from hell.” I felt at a loss for a second, then shook my head. “I’ve got to get you out of here before it comes back,” I said, and I stooped forward to try to gather her up.

The scorpion talisman attacks, no the size of a large terrier. It tries to sting Harry, misses, but some venom splashes on his cheek, burning him. Being handcuffed to Murphy makes it difficult to dodge the scorpion’s attack. The scorpion’s claw wounds Harry in the leg. Murphy becomes incoherent and then the venom blinds her.

Harry discards in plan to use magic to cut the handcuffs for fear of killing himself and Murphy in the process and curses his dad for never showing up to slip out of handcuffs. Finally, Harry manages to pull himself and Murphy out of the office, leaving behind his staff and blasting rod. Harry drags them to the elevator while the scorpion burst through his office door.

Harry frantically jabs the elevator button as the scorpion advance, and Harry realizes that the scorpion is still growing in size. As it charges, Harry holds up his left arm and activates his shield bracelet. The scorpion bounces off the shield as the elevator doors open. Harry throws himself and Murphy into the elevator.

The elevator descends, and Harry finally has a moment to think about the scorpion. He realizes its to smart for an actual scorpion, and it must be a construct, like a golem or a robot. Victor must have realized his talisman was missing and put a spell on it. Suddenly, the elevator stops and the control panel starts to smoke. Above, the scorpion has managed to pry open the elevator doors, and has dropped down onto the roof of the elevator.

Harry desperately racks his brain for a plan as the scorpion, now the size of a small car, tears the roof apart. Harry gets the idea to push the elevator car up with a massive column of wind and smash the scorpion between the elevator and the ceiling of the shaft. “Vento servitas!” shouts Harry, and the elevator rockets up, pushed by the wind, and smashes the scorpion to pieces and turns to ectoplasm goo.

However, the elevator brakes were destroyed, and the elevator begins to plummet back down towards the ground. Harry uses his shield bracelet to form a cushion of energy around himself and Murphy. The elevator smashes into the ground floor and the doors open and Harry and Murphy tumble out to find two astonished EMTs.

I was alive.

I blinked at that, somewhat stunned. I was alive. I looked down at myself, at my arms and legs, and they were all there. Then I let my head fall back and howled out a defiant laugh, a great, gawping whoop of primal joy.

“Take that, Victor Shadowman!” I shouted. “Hah! Hah! Give me your best shot, you murderous bastard! I’m going to take my staff and shove it down your throat!”

I was still laughing when the EMTs gathered me up and helped me and Murphy toward the ambulance, too stunned to ask any questions. I saw them both give me wary looks, though, and then trade a glance with one another that said they were going to sedate me with something as soon as they got the chance.

Harry continues his adrenal filled rant and notices his shield bracelet was destroyed. Outside, it is raining and Harry’s elation vanishes. “The storm had arrived.”

My Thoughts

Harry has funny pamphlets titled “Real Witches Don’t Float so Good” and “Magic in the Twenty-first Century.” Harry had actually written some himself. He’s really committed to showing the world about the supernatural.

While Murphy is incoherent from the scorpion venom, she reveals she has multiple ex-husbands who all have told her that she makes “things just a little harder than they need to be.” Poor Harry, he’s trying to save her life and all she can talk about is arresting and interrogating him. We meet one of those ex’s later (the second husband) while the first dies off screen of a heart attak midway through the series.

We get the first Harry Dresden Wily-e Coyote planTM with the wind and the elevator. Good thing Harry remembered his physics and used his shield to basically act like packing peanuts to distribute the force of their impact so they wouldn’t die when they hit the ground. Butcher’s devotion to realistic physics in his magic series is always great to see.

And it’s always fun to see a Harry rant while he’s on an adrenaline high.

Chapter 23

Harry is still handcuffed to Murphy as Harry and an EMT carry Murphy. Harry’s hands are too big to slip through the cuffs but Murphy’s aren’t. Harry works her cuff off her hand, taking a little skin with it. They set Murphy down on the curb and the EMTs begin to work on her. Harry tells the second EMT she’s been poisoned and that EMT patches up Harry’s leg wound real quick. As the second EMT begins to also work on Murphy, Harry slips out of the scene before the police arrive.

Harry realizes that the storm has come in from the west and hasn’t reached Victor Sells lake house. So if he hurries, he can race the storm. Harry doesn’t have time to retrieve his staff and rod. All Harry has is his mother’s pentacle talisman and years of formal training. First, Harry has to get a car. Harry quickly walks down to McAnally’s and finds the place packed.

They were the have-nots of the magical community. Hedge magi without enough innate talent, motivation, or strength to be true wizards. Innately gifted people who knew what they were and tried to make as little of it as possible. Dabblers, herbalists, holistic healers, kitchen witches, troubled youngsters just touching their abilities and wondering what to do about it. Older men and women, younger people, faces impassive or concerned or fearful, they were all there. I knew them all by sight, if not by name.

They had heard two wizards were about to throw down and had come to McAnally’s for shelter. Harry walks over to the bar and asks to borrow Mac’s car. With a grunt, Mac throws him his keys. Harry turns, and finds Morgan standing at the pub’s doorway.

Morgan accuses Harry of using the storms to fuel the spells to kill people, and orders Harry to sit down. Morgan wants to prevent Harry from killing anyone else. Harry tries to explain that he knows who the real killer is, and that he’s going to be killed in the next hour if he doesn’t stop him. Morgan draws his sword. So Harry grabs a chair and hits Morgan in the stomach, and then hit him again on the back, knocking Morgan to the ground senseless.

Harry flees the bar, knowing he just burned that bridge.

My Thoughts

Even though Murphy handcuffed and tried to arrest him, Harry still feels bad about abandoning her. But, hey, he doesn’t want to die, so you can’t blame the guy. She’s with the EMTs, and it was out of his hands anyway.

And Morgan continues to be a giant dick. While his plan would be laudible if Harry was the real killer, we know he’s not. And Harry can’t afford to sit around and die. Great moment when he slams that chair into Morgan’s back. Of course, if Harry survives Victor Shadowman, the Council is really going to hate him.

One crisis at a time. It’s like that proverb when your only chance to escape is to jump off the cliff. So you jump and hope you can figure out something before you hit the ground.

Mac is a great guy. He doesn’t even question Harry when he barges in and asks to borrow a car. Just grunts and hands him the keys.

Chapter 24

Mac’s car was a ’89 TransAm, and Harry drives it as fast as he could (the speedometer tops at 130 mph, Harry went faster at times). Luckily Its Sunday and traffic is light. Harry manages to get ahead of the storm just as he enters Lake Providence city limits. As Harry pulls into Victor Sells lake house driveway, the car dies. It had lasted long enough to get Harry here.

Harry surveys the house. Their could be magical alarms or traps, illusions or other spells just waiting. Harry needs to know and so opens his Third Eye.

The only thing I can say is that I felt as though a veil of thick cloth had been lifted away from me as I opened my eyes again—and not only from my eyes, but from all of my senses. I could abruptly smell the mud and fish odor of the lake, the trees around the house, the fresh scent of the coming rain preceding the storm on the smoke-stained wind. I looked at the trees. Saw them, not just in the first green coat of spring, but in the full bloom of summer, the splendor of the fall, and the barren desolation of winter, all at the same time. I Saw the house, and each separate part of it as its own component, the timbers as parts of spectral trees, the windows as pieces of distant sandy shores. I could feel the heat of summer and the cold of winter in the wind coming off the lake. I Saw the house wreathed in ghostly flames, and knew that those were part of its possible future, that fire lay down several of the many paths of possibility that lay ahead in the next hour.

Dark emotions cover the house like mold, and skulls adorned everywhere. Death lies in the house’s future, maybe Harry’s. Ghost and restless spirits have been drawn to the place like rats. Harry is both repulsed by the sight of the evil power in the house and attracted to it. Real power was here. Power to change the world to Harry’s desires. This is what he had turned his back on and his reward had been suspicion and contempt.

Harry realizes he could kill Victor right know, burn the house to the ground with the dark energy contained within. Anger surges in Harry. With such power, he could challenge the Council and their pathetic watchdog, Morgan.

The silver pentacle that had been my mother’s burned cold on my chest, a sudden weight that made me gasp. I sagged forward a little, and lifted a hand. My fingers were so tightly crushed into fists that it hurt to try to open them. My hand shook, wavered, and began to fall again.

Then something strange happened. Another hand took mine. The hand was slim, the fingers long and delicate. Feminine. The hand gently covered mine, and lifted it, like a small child’s, until I held my mother’s pentacle in my grasp.

The pentacle was a symbol of white wizardry, or order and rational. Harry calms down and remembers that magic came from life. “There is no truer gage of a man’s character than the way in which he employs his strength, his power.”

I was not a murderer. I was not like Victor Sells. I was Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. I was a wizard. Wizards control their power. They don’t let it control them. And wizards don’t use magic to kill people. They use it to discover, to protect, to mend, to help. Not to destroy.

The anger fades. The hand touching his is gone, but a lingering whiff of perfume remains. Harry gather his courage, and walks forward through the “spectral landscape littered with skulls.”

My Thoughts

Harry has his “Galadriel tempted by the One Ring moment.” I guess Harry get to remain Harry, and travel across the sea to… Err, no I guess he gets to go duel a Black Wizard with nothing but his wits.

I really liked how the spirit of Harry’s mother brings Harry back from the edge. Her spirit makes a few more appearance and we learn a lot more about her past.

Harry got a bum deal. He made the right decision, rejected his master’s offer to go to the dark side, and instead of getting an attaboy from the good guys, he got probation officer that is constantly threatening murder.

I really like the Sight’s description. Its a neat premise and always enjoy the description Butcher comes up with when Harry uses it throughout the books. I really liked how he can see the trees that the lumber came from. Nice touch.

Well, Harry is marching into his Mordor. Good Luck!

Click here to continue onto Part 9!

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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 2

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 1!

Chapter 4

Harry returns to his office to find Monica-No-Name writing on the back of the note he left for her. Harry apologizes for being late, explaining he consults for the police. Monica is surprised to learn that.

Harry invites her into the office, and she seems very nervous. Monica’s husband is missing and she wants Harry to locate him. Her husband had packed up a few things and left, and she hasn’t seen him in three days. Harry asks Monica why she approached him instead of the police.

Monica reveals that since her husband lost his job, he has been getting into magic. She thinks the police will dismiss it as a husband walking out on his family. Harry offers to refer her to a private eye, but Monica thinks Harry’s familiarity with magic will help him locate her husband. Harry asks a few background questions about her husband, including his name. Obviously lying, Monica says her husband is George.

Monica is reluctant to give her husband’s real name for fear of Harry using magic against him. Harry gives her a sell on its bad for business for him to abuse such information, and that she can trust him, etc. Convinced, she tells Harry his name is Victor Sells. Monica thinks Victor may be using their house on Lake Providence.

Harry and Monica hammer out the bill ($50/hour plus expenses). Monica hands Harry an envelop with $500. Finally, Monica hands Harry an envelop with contact information, a picture of Victor, and a third envelop containing an amulet her husband had left behind. Monica says her goodbyes and leaves. Harry opens the envelop and sees it is made from a dead scorpion.

I shuddered. Scorpions were symbolically powerful in certain circles of belief. They weren’t usually symbols of anything good or wholesome, either. A lot of petty, mean spells could be focused around a little talisman like that. If you wore it next to your skin, as such things are supposed to be worn, the prickly legs of the thing would be a constant poking and agitation at your chest, a continual reminder that it was there. The dried stinger and the tail’s tip might actually pierce the skin of anyone who tried to give the wearer a hug. Its crablike pincers would catch in a man’s chest hair, or scratch and the curves of a woman’s breasts. Nasty, unpleasant thing. Not evil, as such—but you sure as hell weren’t likely to do happy shiny things with magic with such an item around your neck.

Harry is starting to think Victor may have actually gotten into the Art. Many newbie sorcerer’s think they need to isolate themselves to learn magic. Isolation just allows weak or untrained minds to concentrate better.

While calling hospitals to look for John Does matching Victor’s description, Harry thought he saw the scorpion move out of the corner of his eye. Harry reaches out with his sense but doesn’t detect anything unnatural about the amulet other than its creepy.

My Thoughts

Harry thinks Monica looks very familiar, but dismisses it. Always pay attention when an author says that, particularly when you’re in the noir/mystery genre which the Dresden Files definitely has one foot firmly planted in. Not too many characters introduced so far to remind Dresden, but he does compare her natural blond to the bottle blond of the dead woman.

Monica is very nervous and cagey around Harry. She knows not to look him in they eyes, reluctant to give Harry real names, and gives Harry that amulet. I think she knows more about magic and wizards then she’s letting on.

That is one creepy amulet you made their, Victor. And who names their kids Victor unless you want them to be creepy. What choice did Victor have but to grow up, find magic during a mid-life crisis, and make creepy, scorpion amulets.

And bad, Harry. When a creepy, possibly magical amulet twitches, don’t ignore it. You will regret it. Especially when it was made by a guy named Victor.

The private investigator Harry would probable refer Monica to is Nick Angel, the PI Harry worked as an apprentice to get his investigation license. There are short stories, I’ve not read, about this. Nick Angel’s name rarely gets brought up in the main series.

Chapter 5

Harry heads to McAnally’s pub. The pub is place that the supernatural crowd likes to hang out. Mac is used to the problems caused by wizards so there are no electronics to short out. The bar has thirteen of everything; bar stool, tables, windows, mirrors, and columns. The layout of the bar dissipates energies that tend to gather around wizards. Mac rarely ever speaks in more than grunts or single word sentences.

Harry’s calls to the morgues had not turned up Victor Sell’s body, and Harry has come down to McAnally’s to enjoy Mac’s home brewed beer and a steak sandwich. Harry talks about his day with Mac when a newspaper catches his eye. The front page is about a ThreeEye rampage. ThreeEye is a new drug that is supposed to give the user the third sight. Harry thinks its a bunch of crap.

Susan Rodriguez, reporter for the Arcane, walks up to the bar. The Arcane is a magazine that covered supernatural and the paranormal. Usually the report on bogus stories you see in the tabloids, but occasionally the report on true supernatural events like the Unseelie Incursion of 1994 when the entire city of Milwaukee had vanished for two hours. Susan had interviewed Harry when he started his own business and had fainted when she and Harry had soulgazed.

Flirting, Susan tries to get harry to tell her about what happened at the Madison. Harry refuses because of a nondisclosure agreement with Chicago P.D. She persist, asking for something off the record.

“Can’t help you, Susan,” I told her. “Wild horses couldn’t drag it out of me, et cetera.”

“Just a hint,” she pressed. “A word of comment. Something shared between two people who are very attracted to one another.”

“Which two people would that be?”

She put an elbow on the counter and propped her chin in her hand, studying me through narrowed eyes and thick, long lashes. One of the things that appealed to me about her was that even though she used her charm and femininity relentlessly in pursuit of her stories, she had no concept of just how attractive she really was—I had seen that when I looked within her last year. “Harry Dresden,” she said, “you are a thoroughly maddening man.” Her eyes narrowed a bit further. “You didn’t look down my blouse even once, did you,” she accused.

Harry claims he is pure of heart and mind as his excuse for not ogling her. While she laughs, he takes the opportunity to look down her blouse. Susan starts asking Harry yes and no questions about the case, knowing that Harry is a poor liar. In the midst of those questions, she asks Harry to dinner on Saturday. Harry is flustered and she tells him to be ready at 9 and to dress nicely. Harry agrees, still confused, not sure if agreed to a date or an interrogation. Mac brings harry his steak sandwich.

Harry asks Mac why he agreed to the date with Susan. It will be hard for him not to let slip any details about the case. Mac grunts. Harry points out she is very attractive, and he is “red-blooded male” so a slip of judgment is to be expected. Mac calls Harry dumb.

Harry realizes that his plans to go out to the Lake House to look for Victor on Saturday is ruined and he has to head out tonight. Tomorrow, Friday, he plans on going to see Bianca (despite Murphy’s orders). Harry’s thoughts about his date/interrogation with Susan dredges up the memory of past relationships.

I had been a miserable failure in relationships, ever since my first love went sour. I mean, a lot of teenage guys fail in their first relationships.

Not many of them murder the girl involved.

I shied away from that line of thought, lest it bring up too many old memories.

My Thoughts

Mac is a lot like Silent Bob, he speaks mostly in grunts or one words, and then out of the blue he says complete sentences. He also brews great bear and makes a mean steak.

Harry is not used to flirting and Susan is great at keeping him off balanced. Harry is never sure if she really is attracted to him or if she is just after the story. With Susan, its both. It is hilarious that Harry makes the comment of being pure of heart and then looks down her blouse. He is still a guy.

I just want to say, I heart Susan. She’s a great character, always keeping Harry off-balanced, but she’s not just flirting with him to get the story. She does like him. I really ship these characters.

The Unseelie Incident sounds like it’s own book, an entire American City vanishing for two hours and replaced by a field. I wonder how the in-universe spin would explain that? In faerie lore, they often get broken down into Seelie and Unseelie courts. Summer is Seelie and seen is “good” compared to Winter. They tend to get referred to as Summer and Winter through the remainder of the novels, but Unseelie pops up in the Unseelie Accords, something akin to international law for the supernatural world.

Harry’s thoughts turn real dark there at the end. In his mind he believes he killed his girlfriend (Elaine). There is more to the story (Book 4 provides quite a lot of info as well as Book 13) and it is directly tied into the Doom of Damocles that hangs over his head.

Chapter 6

Harry stops by his basement apartment after McAnally’s to feed his cat, Mister. He picks up his car, the Blue Beetle, a beat up old VW bug that has seen better days. Harry’s mechanic, Mike, has kept it running through various monster encounters. After so much body damage, the Blue Beetle has barely any blue on it anymore.

Dresden heads out to the Sells’s lake house up I-94. Lake Providence is a place with very expensive houses, and though the Sells’s house isn’t as big as some of the others, Harry speculates that Victor most have made decent money before he lost his job. Harry takes a look around the exterior and finds a red, film canister. Harry keeps the canister since they make great containers for magical ingredients.

The house is locked, and while Harry could break in and hex the security system, its bad “juju” to enter a house uninvited. For a supernatural, it can really interfere with them holding their physical form together, for a wizard it can make it hard to use magic inside. It’s also bad manners. Harry rings the doorbell, but no one answers. Something nags at Harry, and he thinks someone has been staying in the house recently.

Harry decides to summon a local faerie to question. He makes a circle in the dirt, covers it with leaves, and leaves a thimble of milk, a bowl of honey, and a piece of bread with Harry’s blood on the bottom. The trap is set to catch a faerie.

There are two parts of magic for faerie catching. One, you have to no the faerie’s True Name. If you no a True Name, you can create a link with magic. And knowing the name is not enough, you have to know how to exactly pronounce it. The second part to faerie catching is a magic circle. A magic circle sets a limit on the magic being performed, helps the wizard focus and direct more easily. It also blocks outside energy. A circle also can trap magical creatures (faeries) or keep them out. That’s what the blood is for on the bread. When the faerie eats the blood, it will power the circle and trap the faerie inside.

Harry summons a faerie who’s real name is quite beautiful, but goes by Toot-Toot. Harry puts just enough of his will in it to make Toot-Toot to subconsciously come here. After ten minutes, Toot-Toot comes flying over the lake and cautiously approaches the circle. Toot-Toot is about six inches tall and has a silver glow. Bread, milk, and honey were a “common vice of the lower fae.”

For several minutes, Toot-Toot circles the food and eventually his greed outweighs his caution and he dives into the circle and begins to eat, setting off the trap. Toot-Toot becomes angry and tries to escape, bouncing off the invisible walls of the circle.

“I should have known!” he exclaimed, as I approached from the trees. His voice was high-pitched, but more like a little kid’s than the exaggerated kind of faery voices I’d heard in cartoons. “Now I remember where I’ve seen those plates before! You ugly, sneaky, hamhanded, big-nosed, flat-footed mortal worm!”

“Hiya, Toot,” I told him. “Do you remember our deal from last time, or do we need to go over it again?”

Toot glared defiantly up at me and stomped his foot on the ground. More silver faery dust puffed out from the impact. “Release me!” he demanded. “Or I will tell the Queen!”

“If I don’t release you,” I pointed out, “you can’t tell the Queen. And you know just as well as I do what she would say about any dewdrop faery who was silly enough to get himself caught with a lure of bread and milk and honey.”

Toot threatens to curse Harry, but Harry is impatient and tells Toot to hurry along. Toot is a little hurt, and sulkily tells Harry he could have pretended to be afraid. Toot goes on a rant, but gets distracted by the high quality bread and milk (no preservatives) Harry has left for him. Harry and Toot negotiate a deal where Toot would tell him what’s been going on at the lake house in the last few days in exchange for Harry releasing him. Harry makes Toot promise three times, since that is close to truth as you can get from a faerie.

Harry breaks the circle and Toot flies off. After 30 minutes, Toot returns and tries to make Harry guess what he learned. Harry, impatiently, tells Toot to just spit it out. Toot accuses Harry of being no fun and reasons that’s why Harry doesn’t date often. Toot reveals that the faerie spy on Harry. Harry is startled to discover that.

Finally, Toot tells him what another faerie, Goldeneyes, told him. Last night, Goldeneyes, drove up here on top of a pizza delivery car to the Lake House. Goldeneyes said the mortals were sporting (faerie term for activity involving nudity and lust) and needed to regain their strength. Harry is surprised to learn that faeries love pizza and promises Toot to have the occasional pizza delivered up here for the help. Harry asks for which pizza company delivered last night, but the concept of different brands goes over Toot’s head.

Harry is beginning to think that Victor Sells was cheating on his wife and she was just in denial. Harry gather his supplies and turns to find a man with sword walking towards him.

“Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Irresponsible use of true names for summoning and binding others to your will violates the Fourth Law of Magic,” the man intoned. “I remind you that you are under the Doom of Damocles. No further violations of the Laws will be tolerated. The sentence for further violation is death, by the sword, to be carried out at once.”

My Thoughts

The film canister kinda dates this book. Butcher wrote in the 90s and it was published way back in 2000, when people still had cameras with film and not SD cards. The question is, who was there taking pictures. Another P.I. involved?

Toot-Toot is hilarious. The way he gets mad at Harry for not following the routine of back and forth threats and just once to cut to the chase is priceless. And, of course faeries like pizza, Harry. Everyone likes pizza. Faeries just aren’t good at brand recognition. No one’s perfect, Harry.

Harry’s mental image of a bunch of little faeries peeking through his window is a little creepy. Apparently, that’s what these dewdrop faeries do. They also like to spy on teenager’s making out and play tricks on them.

Victor being a creep continues. Having a love nest and cheating on your nice wife, what a creep. Of course, we’re in a detective novel and still very early in the story. Is he a wizard? And what does this have to do with Tommy Tomm and the girl’s murders?

And now Morgan enters the story, the guy with a sword and stick up his backside. We’ll learn more about him in the next chapter.

Click her to continue on to Part 3!

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