The Book of Sawce is back! Cue the applause! Yes, believe it or not, I’m still working on that pesky reading challenge. Sure, it’s been over three months since the last Chapter, but it’s not like I’ve been doing nothing. I’ve been writing quite a bit more than I have in…ever. It’s all been on the blog, but that’s something. So, here we are with a popular author’s first book. Jim Butcher’s popular, right? Cool. Let’s dive into The Dresden Files: Storm Front.
Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a wizard. You can find him in the yellow pages (is that still a thing?) under “Wizards.” Yep. He’s a wizard-for-hire. Not only does he help out the Chicago PD with unusual crimes, but he also takes on cases from those who want to hire him to find or investigate something. Storm Front sees the world’s only wizard private investigator brought in by Lieutenant Karrin Murphy of Special Investigations to aid in solving the gruesome murders of a high-ranking member of Chicago’s underground and the escort girl that was with him. On the same day, Dresden is hired by Monica Sells to find her missing her husband. Why would she go to him? Well, her husband had begun dabbling in sorcery. He’ll have to solve the murders and find Mr. Sells without being killed by Chicago’s crime lord, the vampiress in charge of the escort service, the wizard council who wants him dead for breaking the Laws of Magic, or Murph—who would rather just arrest him for being an ass, but she probably wouldn’t mind shooting him sometimes.
I quite enjoyed this book. I’ve been a fan of Butcher’s for some time since I read his Codex Alera series years ago. Been wanting to get to his most famous series since then, but it’s obviously taken a while. Dresden is awesome. His warped instincts when it comes to fight or flight, his strong desire to help those in need, and his often crummy attitude make for an interesting protagonist in this urban fantasy/crime noire world. The other characters are cool as well. The bad-ass Murph, the gruff Mac (I don’t care if he’s barely there, I love him, dammit), the “Gentleman” Johnny Marcone, the intrepid Susan Rodriguez, the mischievous Bob, the glorious cat that is Mister, and so on. Side note–his car is the Blue Beetle. Of course I’m gonna love that!
One of the main things I loved about Storm Front is the humor. I laughed quite a bit. There’s one scene in particular that involves a demon attacking, a potion mix-up, a magic circle, and awful timing. Yes, the situation is legitimately pretty dire, and the book gets much darker after that, but I was laughing at the absurdity of it all in such a life-threatening scene. I don’t know if there was ever anything quite like that in Codex Alera. Me mind’s a bit fuzzy.
Even though I did like the mystery, I could see the twists coming a mile away. I don’t know whether to chalk that up to my own meta-reading or to this being Butcher’s first book. I’m leaning toward the latter since I’m the easiest person to get with mysteries. That being said, this is definitely his first book. The fairly weak mysteries and plentiful—yet often humorous—exposition are indicative of that. I can almost forgive the exposition as this was the establishing book in what would become a 15-book (and probably more soon enough) series. But, it was fairly noticeable and pulled me out of the action quite a bit.
I’m glad I finally read this, though. The characters and world are fascinating enough to get anyone interested in the rest of the series despite its obvious solutions and tendency to info-dump. I’d definitely suggest checking it out. Not my favorite I’ve read so far, but definitely enjoyable. It’s books like this that make me want to abandon the reading challenge and just read all the other books in the series in quick succession. I won’t, though. Or maybe I’ll take some book breaks from the reading challenge. I guess it’s something to consider.
Next time, I’ll be tackling a book from an author I love that I haven’t read yet. What will it be? Stay tuned to find out.