For the last year or so, I’ve been slowly and steadily making my way through Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books. I just finished the eighth book in paperback (Proven Guilty) and, despite a few ups and downs along the way, I’ve enjoyed every page.
This Harry is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Like the other Harry, Harry Dresden is a wizard. Unlike the other Harry, this Harry is also a detective. He’s also the only certified wizard to advertise in the Chicago yellow pages. The series begins with Storm Front, which is presented as a pretty straight forward detective story of the wise-cracking, P.I. variety. Yes, it involves magic, but Butcher treats magic the same way Robert Parker or Elmore Leonard would treat a knife or a handgun. It’s a tool. In fact, Harry goes about two-thirds of the way through this first book without doing an ounce of hocus-pocus.
As the series progresses, things get more complicated. A ton of secondary and tertiary characters move in and out (including Harry’s old mentor Ebenezar McCoy, Michael Carpenter–one of God’s holy hitmen–and a horny talking skull named Bob). A war erupts between the wizards and the vampires. But, for the most part, Harry remains Harry. He’s the same wise-cracking, pop-culture-reference-spouting, bad-luck-having, chivalrous schmuck in the eighth book as he was in the first.
Personally, I’ve probably enjoyed the fourth book, Summer Knight–which involves Harry getting caught up in a civil war between the Summer and Winter Courts of Faerie (don’t ask)–the most. However, the second book, Fool Moon, also gets high marks for using every possible explanation for lycanthropy under the sun.