Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Storm Front - Wizard PI and His First Case

Jim Butcher has hit a homerun with his Dresden Files series of novels. By his own confession, he wrote the first book, under the name Semiautomagic, at a writing course, trying to prove to his teacher that it would be horrible. It turned out to be completely opposite.

The main character is private investigator and wizard Harry Dresden, the world’s only consulting wizard. He works as a private investigator and police advisor. In the world of The Dresden Files, magic is real, along with vampires, demons, spirits, faeries, werewolves, outsiders, and other monsters. But most of the people still do not believe in the supernatural. When he works with the police, he is engaged by detective Karrin Murphy, head of special investigations unit, the unit that deals with the strange cases.
In Storm Front, Harry Dresden is asked to work with the police but also to work on another case for a very attractive women. He is also approached by a beautiful reporter, and there is a lady of the night, who is also connected to the investigation. Talk about damsels in distress.
There are other elements of the hard core detective novel that make an interesting blend with the supernatural setting. In the end, the supernatural does not matter. Detective’s intelligence, quick thinking, resorcefulness and luck save the day.

The novel reminded me of the Raymond Chandler misteries that I used to read when I was younger. Like Philip Marlowe, Harry Dresden is a loner, down on his luck, struggling to make ends meet, yet somehow he gets the attention of very beautiful women. I know that this could be deliberate, as a genre trope that Butcher wanted to parody, but it worked out better than he expected. His book was published and he continued on to write 14 more.
It should also be mentioned that the book series spawned a TV show, which I watched but was not overly impressed, comic books and a role playing game.

As regards quality, I would describe Storm Front as readable. It is fun but it is sometimes painfully obvious that it is the first novel. It is a bit pulpy, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Somehow it all blends into an enjoyable read. I immediately started the next book in the series, which shows that I rather liked the first one. I think that the good characterization was the key. It can be gathered from the spoiler-free information online that the quaility increases as the series progresses but at this moment I do not see myself going through all 15 books. It is the supernatural part that puts me off. But who knows, maybe I'll stick with it. It could be fun.

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