|3.5 stars out of 5|
Harry Dresden -- Wizard Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment. Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting. Magic. It can get a guy killed.
If this had been the first urban fantasy that I had ever read, I think I would be far more impressed that I am. Don’t get me wrong, I really did like it. But I felt like the first half of the book consisted of Butcher feeling his way, trying to find out who Harry Dresden is. Somewhere around chapter 14 or so, something clicked into place and Harry solidified for me. The last few chapters were wonderful.
Storm Front may take place in a city, but parts of it felt more like a Western to me, particularly with Harry always in his duster (except while facing a demon while in the nude, of course). He seems to alternate between acting like a sheriff (when investigating) and being an outlaw (as he is investigated).
Butcher is also playing with aspects of the Noir detective genre, with Harry being down on his luck, short of cash, and unlucky in love. Plus having an uncertain relationship with the police department.
All these references either work for you or they don’t. As I said before, I found the first half of the book rather busy with them, pulled between the Western vibe and the Noir vibe, but when the plot coalesced and started moving quickly, all was forgiven. I will definitely read the next book in the series to see where Harry goes from here.