This book was first seen on the internet, the author followed up by self-publishing it and then a publisher picked it up. It’s origins do show in the writing and the pace, however towards the middle of the book it settles down nicely and becomes a fast paced well-written humourous book.
The book tells the tale of “The Book With No Name”, the Eye of the Moon and how they both affect the people and events of Santa Mondega – a town that’s not on any map and which is forgotten by the outside world. The legend has it that anyone who reads the Book dies shortly afterwards. The Bourbon Kid arrives before massacring hundreds of people, there are bounty hunters, hitmen, cops, monks, amnesiac women, killers aplenty and many many pop culture references. The blurb describes it as “Tarantino meets The Da Vinci Code” and reading through a few chapters shows this is an apt description.
The chapters are short and punchy and full of action. The humour comes fast without overcoming the action and tale. So much happens that it’s difficult to describe it and still do it justice. All I can say is read the book – just don’t blame me for what happens afterwards…….
One of the dangers, for me, of reviewing a series of books is that I read so quickly that by the time I’m ready to write a review I have to review them all in one fell swoop. I won’t do that with The Dresden Files: firstly, because the way they are written demands a review per book to avoid spoilers and secondly because I’m going to make myself do it properly.
This is the debut novel in the series. Harry Dresden (Harry Copperfield Blackstone Dresden, conjure by it at your own risk) is the only wizard/private investigator in the Chicago area. He’s also the only wizard in the Yellow Pages. He is at constant risk of eviction, he’s under threat of death from his own side and he’s also managed to put himself in the way of a black magician, the Chicago police and a bunch of vampires. All that and a new drug hitting the streets which gives the addicts access to their third eye. Luckily, his friends have his back.
This is an excellent intro to the series, Butcher manages to give us backstory in small doses so that we can follow along without getting fed up. The characters are pretty well fleshed out and we understand and empathise with their motivations. Every action taken is logical within the constraints of the story and you find yourself waiting for the end with bated breath.
Merging magic, detectives and all things that go bump in the night could have gone two ways. Butcher has managed to make it work extremely well. He is also a very patient writer (as we’ll see in later books): he is happy to set up a story yet to come in a book and then wait to spring it on us 2 or 3 books down the line – enough time to wonder what’s coming, not enough time to forget that it is coming.
I would heartily recommend this whole series. Jim Butcher has included sex into the books without falling into the trap of making the whole book about sex and turning readers off him. The writing is simple, intelligent and elegant. The motivations of the characters are easy to get behind. Above all, the book is very very entertaining.
Author’s website: http://www.jim-butcher.com/