Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Storm Front isn’t a book that I normally would choose to read on my own.  I’m not a huge mystery reader and I’m not all that enthralled with the urban fantasy genre.  My fiancé got me interested in The Dresden Files when he picked up Storm Front last year from the library, telling me that he thought the books would be good.  He wasn’t able to get into it, due to work-related craziness, which is to his detriment.  Storm Front is a rather good story with a compelling main character.

Harry Dresden is a wizard living in Chicago.  He most likely is the only one who is listed in the phone book and offers his services to the public for a fee.  He is an unusual wizard in many other ways, as well.  Having to defend himself to the death from his apparently evil former mentor, he is being monitored closely by the White Council, the administrative body overseeing wizards.

This causes problems for him when a disturbing double-murder occurs and the Chicago Police Department’s Karrin Murphy, in charge of Special Investigations, calls him in to investigate.  Dresden knows just from the look of the crime that incredibly powerful magic had to have been used to kill the two people.  Murphy asks him to figure out how.

Meanwhile, Dresden is also investigating a missing-person (even though he doesn’t typically do that type of thing).  Monica Sells’ husband is missing.  She basically tosses money at Dresden — who appears to be perpetually broke — then desperately calls the whole thing off, which piques his interest.  So he decides to investigate anyway.

Mixed into these investigations is the Mafia boss Johnny Marcone, who doesn’t want Dresden looking into any of this mess.  One of his henchmen was one of the victims of the double homicide, and it also happens that the murders are related to his struggle to control the drug trade in the city.  Dresden has some challenges.

Author Jim Butcher has mixed into all this a good, healthy dose of dark humor.  Dresden has a skull-inhabiting spirit who can tell him the ingredients for just about any potion he needs.  The characters have good banter, which I think is essential for a mystery novel.  I found it to be a book that I actively looked forward to reading; most I really enjoy, but don’t get the energy to read them outside of exercise and waiting rooms, simply because I’m too tired.  The fact that I had a cold while reading this and still wanted to read it is a true feat.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that I liked Storm Front.  I have read and enjoyed Stephen King in the past.  To my shame, I even read Christopher Pike when in late elementary and middle school — my only defense is that I had no taste at the time, and that it was better for me to be reading something than nothing at all; my mother would not have appreciated a delinquent teenage daughter.

My only issue with the book is that some of the prose was either awkwardly written or not edited in the best fashion.  Some of the prose fell a little flat for me, so that took a little of the joy out of reading it.  Still, the story was well enough crafted, and Dresden well enough developed, for me to truthfully enjoy the first book in The Dresden Files.  I’m taking a trip to the library later today; maybe Full Moon will be on the list of books to get.

Rating: 4/5.

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Filed under 4/5, Book review, Favorable, Fiction

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