Travelling during the holidays is always interesting, but this year things have been a little different. My laptop crashed and I finished reading the only two books I brought with me on the second day of my travels. Not having much else to do, I decided to reread the Dresden Files from the beginning of the series with Jim Butcher‘s Storm Front (Urban Fantasy 228 pages).
Rereading this book was actually very interesting because of how much the characters in this series have changed. Harry starts out in this book as a basic police consultant for the Special Investigations unit out of Chicago. The current head of the unit is Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, who has hired Harry several times to help with investigations that all contained something out of the ordinary. Throughout the entire book, Harry and Karrin’s relationship is purely professional. In fact, it actually seems at least a little bit like the two of them don’t get along so well. They’re very much coworkers and very much not friends. Though, Karrin helps Harry out every now and again, they don’t spend any time together on a social basis. They both want to help the actual people of Chicago and they do so in the ways they both feel are best, though they sometimes disagree as to what that means. Harry tries to prevent too much of his past or too much of the wizarding world to become public knowledge and Karrin doesn’t reveal information about the investigations that she doesn’t have to. It’s an interesting working relationship for the reader because the reader knows that both Harry and Karrin are withholding information that could help the other person and that by not sharing their information, instead of protecting each other and the people of Chicago, they’re actually increasing the danger.
The story also introduces Gentleman Johnny Marcone, the new criminal overlord of the underworld. Introducing Johnny is interesting because Harry and Johnny have a soul gaze and Johnny’s soul is described as being a tiger – predatory and unflinching. In fact, Harry seems to do a lot of soul-gazing in this book, which I’m not too sure I remember happening in many of the future books. Johnny attempts to manipulate Harry on multiple occasions and he’s seen as the bad guy, even though he’s really just trying to find out (and get revenge for) the deaths of some of his people. He doesn’t tolerate any disloyalty from the people who work for him and it seems like he might actually care about those around him, but he buries it under professional bravado.
I think this book is an excellent introduction to the world of the Dresden Files, providing enough supernatural elements to appeal to the paranormal crowd, as well as lots of popular fiction references to make the story feel like it takes place in a world just around the corner. This story is filled with random, tongue-in-cheek humor, fun characters, and an interesting murder-mystery detective story filled with action and a hero who gets himself into a ton of trouble and gets physically beat up throughout most of the book. Harry is sarcastic and spends a lot of the book being honest to himself as a character. He talks about his views on women, and as much as he really does appear to be rather chauvinist, he does so in such a way that he’s not a dick about it. He wants to open doors, not tell a woman what she can or can not do with her life. He’s polite and respectful, but still honestly admits his reactions to women and his motivations concerning them. He knows himself well enough to respect the women he encounters in the truest meaning of that word.
Overall, I think I would rate this book as a solid three to a high three on my rating scale. I’m not sure if I own this book or not, as I picked it up from the bookshelves that are technically located in “my” room at my parents’ house. So if I didn’t have a copy, I would certainly purchase one and am likely to reread the entire series again in the future.