Harry Dresden is a wizard and a private investigator living in modern-day Chicago. That’s all you really need to know about this, to be honest. It’s a pretty great concept. He finds himself under suspicion for the string of murders he’s been asked to investigate and needs to find the killer to prove his innocence.
I had heard this described as Philip Marlowe with magic, but I’d probably describe it more as Veronica Mars with magic. Still fun, but Chandler’s hard to live up to. I will say I was interested throughout the entire story, and I do really like the world he’s started to put together in this. I found his magic system, and the constraints around that system, really intriguing. Constraints are probably more important than the magic itself in fantasy storytelling, and he’s come up with some interesting ways to handle that. In the novel, Dresden’s magic use is constantly being monitored, and he’s always in fear of the White Council – the ruling committee of wizards he’d have to face if he breaks a magic law.
One thing that always drives me crazy is when you can see an author’s hand in the characters, leading them in directions that feel untrue in order to pull the plot a certain way, and I felt that a few times while reading this. On occasion people reacted in ways that didn’t mesh at all with what I’d seen from them previously, and he was constantly withholding important information for no good reason at all. I liked how the plot played out, but it just felt like it was being manipulated to get there at times.
So, I’m really not sure what to think of this book. Overall I did enjoy it, but there were a few things that pulled me out of the story. I think I might try one more and see how it goes. There seems to be a lot of people who just love this series, so maybe it continues to get better and better.