This was a book recommendation that I was uncertain about at first. I don’t know why, but something about it didn’t appeal to me for quite some time so I kept putting it off for other books. I finally decided to read it when my wife and I were visiting friends in Oregon and I found it in a bookstore. While I did consider buying it, in the end I purchased a different book. But now that it was embedded into my mind, I decided I was now ready to give this novel a try.
Harry Dresden is a wizard with a peculiar job. As the only professional wizard in Chicago, he works as a private detective who investigates the cases the police can’t handle. These usually include demons, dark mages, vampires, and any other occurrences that involve magic, but right now business is non-existent. However, when the police call Dresden in to investigate a double murder with supernatural influences he jumps at the opportunity. But as he digs further to uncover the murderer he finds himself becoming the police’s most likely suspect. With time against him, Dresden will have to find the source of the dark magic before his profession and life are put on the line.
I just finished reading an Agatha Christie novel (as you know from my previous post) and the idea of this being a popular fiction piece with a supernatural mystery was not all that promising. When it comes to mystery novels there are good ones and bad ones and not a lot of ground for mediocrity. It’s either a book with a great twist and cunning clues left for the reader to solve, or it is as clear as undisturbed water. When I started Storm Front I was expecting the undisturbed water. I even pondered a little of what I would write for my post: a good fantasy but a lousy mystery. About half way in (the minimal duration when you can be sure you have been introduced to all the suspects and can make a safe assumption of who is the culprit) I thought I had it all figured out. However, to my surprise, there was a cunning bit of literary style used in such a way as to muck up the water and throw me off my game.
From start to finish my opinion of the book has gone through a significant change. For one, it was much better than my previous expectations. That probably being the most important change in my analysis. It was also a much better mystery than anticipated; the large quantity of fourth wall breaks changed from being infuriating to helpful in plot development and style creation, and the main character was a well balanced individual who was quite likeable. To backtrack briefly, anyone who can not stand fourth wall breaks should probably avoid this book as well; they happen very frequently and will more than likely deter you from reading within the first few chapters.
When I said this book has a good mystery I honestly believe it does. This does not mean that it holds a candle to the detectives created by Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, but it is well written, well thought out, and well executed. The writing style is somewhat young in certain aspects, but with the story itself is more mature. However, this is Butcher’s first novel so I imagine his works will greatly improve with time and experience.
For those who require deep, dynamic characters this probably won’t meet your expectations. Although the characters have solid backgrounds that support their personalities, they lack a significant depth to make them relatable. This coupled with the fact that one of the characters managed to rub me wrong throughout the entire book. I won’t mention any names, but she is a female cop who likes to jump to conclusions and is more than happy to drag her only real help to the police station in handcuffs. In a word I found her to be insufferable. What kind of person demands help, threatens to cuff anyone who refuses, gets angry, and then threatens to imprison the hero when he actually does try to help? Seriously, who does that!?
With sixteen more books to read before the 15th of September there is a good chance I will read at least one more book in this series before then. Wish me luck as I enter the final stretch of this challenge!