Chicago wizard-detective Harry Dresden returns in this third installment of The Dresden Files a year after the events of the earlier volumes. The tale opens unassumingly in medias res with ample references to events that seemingly “resolved” between Books 2 & 3. Harry still works as a consultant for the Chicago Police, especially the spunky and heroic Karrin Murphy, and has continued his relationship with persistent reporter-of-the-supernatural, Susan Rodriguez. [This volume could have been subtitled, Harry Learns to Say ‘I Love You’.] Also holding true is Harry’s help from spirit-trapped-in-a-skull, Bob, who continues to get less schtick-y, thankfully.
What’s new is Harry’s partnership with Michael Carpenter, Knight of the Cross [or Sword]. Together they brought down a black magic wielding demon-summoner before this tale opens. Michael is a welcome addition of a character in his earnest faith of mission. Harry, too, has earnestness–that’s what makes him so likable–but Harry also has wit, sarcasm, sexuality and self-doubt. Michael has devout surety, almost naively so.
Also new to the scene is the larger politics of the unseen Chicago and the Fae world of Nevernever. The White Counsel appeared mostly in the first volume as the paroling force that kept Harry on a leash. Now he maintains good standing and represents the White Counsel. Enter the all-but-warring White, Red and Black Courts of the vampires and their uneasy alliance with the White Counsel of Wizards and to each other and we have the makings of a powder keg with Harry flicking his BIC. The less than smooth encounter with top Chicago brothel madame, Bianca, comes back to bite Harry in the neck when she’s honored with a Barony of the Red Court.
Meanwhile, someone’s torturing ghosts and making it easier for them to cross the veil from Nevernever. Harry has his own problems in Nevernever as his powerful Godmother is a powerful Fae always willing to enslave him . . .
This complicated confluence of events, characters and politics take a long while to sort through, but makes it worthwhile ultimately. I’ve previously read Books 1 [Storm Front] and 2 [Fool Moon], which are consistently very good and recommended. One doesn’t need to read them in order.
[Check out my other reviews here.]