“But just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean that there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face.”
So begins my foray into the world of Harry Dresden, Wizard and Private Investigator. This first book in the series sets things up nicely, introducing us into Harry’s milieu, set in Chicago (happily one of my favorite cities). There is Karrin Murphy, the director of Special Investigations (read: paranormal) for the downtown Chicago P.D. Harry works as a consultant for her from time to time, partially because a mans gotta pay the bills and partially because he respects her and she has a measure of respect for him and his gifts. Unlike her partner, Detective Carmichael. One day, Murphy calls Harry sounding shaken. She needs his help at a murder scene downtown at the Madison Hotel. What he encounters there leaves him shaken, sickened and very, very worried. And it’s not just the overdose of red velvet and gold rococo that the suite is decorated in. The couple has been killed, in flagrante delicto, hearts literally burst from their chests. This was some heavy black magic.
Harry also has a case on the side, searching for a woman’s husband. He’s been missing for a few days. He was recently fired from his high-paying job and been dabbling in magic. It’s not long before the two cases dovetail. Not only that, as Harry is the most accomplished wizard for miles around, he is immediately suspected in the murders by the White Council and denizens of the Nevernever. Along the way there are some really fun characters and serious adversaries to Harry now, and it would seem, for years to come.
As much set up as Butcher had to do, it all flowed quite smoothly and naturally. Harry’s voice is sardonic and self-deprecating, a new kind of noir voice. Great observational humor about the world he inhabits. And, boy, the man can keep you breathless with the action. Other than a great many Stephen King books, I haven’t delved into horror/fantasy much until the CBR7, when I started in on Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series and now this series. So far it’s a great ride.