Book one in the Dresden Files series: Published April 2000
I own a used copy of this book
Harry Dresden — Wizard Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment. Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting. Magic. It can get a guy killed.
I have mixed feelings about this book. It is the first published work by a popular author, so score on checking off one of my challenge requirements, but it felt like a first novel of an author trying to work out some of the kinks. So while I might not be as kind in this review as some long-standing fans, and I know there are many out there… I am going to give this series a few books to find its voice, because I do see the potential here.
So lets start sifting through my thoughts and see if I can figure out what sort of rating I want to give this book. The positive up first and the over all impression is this was a fun read. It had that good vs evil going for it that I enjoy. Reminded me a lot of some of my other favorite authors and series: Kim Harrison’s The Hollows, Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski, and Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires. It also reminded me a bit of the recently canceled Forever TV series and dare I even confess it the hollow deck Star Trek episodes where Picard plays a detective Dixon Hill. Alright now that I have unabashedly outed myself as a total geek, lets move on. I enjoyed running around Chicago with this magical private eye as he sorted out all the puzzle pieces and went after the bad guy to save the day. No matter who all tried to stop him, he kept at it and didn’t just sit back and say to hell with you all it’s not my problem. Harry is a great guy, a bit on the geeky side himself, but I’ll have more on that in a minute. The supporting cast was alright, comments about the women to come, but in general I like the neighborhood Harry lived in, the people he interacted with. I especially found the spirit and Mister a lot of fun and enjoyed what they added to the story. I am torn on what I think of Morgan, I have a feeling he will be around for a while, but I think he might be an interesting antagonist for Harry. Another plus for me is this world of magic felt more science based than religious based. There might of be some faith like principles, but the crafting of magic felt more alchemy based. Like I said this world has potential and I see why it has such a loyal following.
Now on to the less than flattering thoughts on the story. I’ve seen most of the really negative reviews tend to dwell on one fact. Harry is a misogynist. Now I am going to disagree and agree on this. Yes Harry’s thought on women are pretty sexist at times and there wasn’t a woman in this story that he didn’t find cute or attractive is some shy way. I think it is a little more of a juvenile attitude toward women than a sexist one. Harry approaches woman like a 12-year-old geeky boy. He is uncomfortable with his and their sexuality, or the author is, and it led to all sorts of odd and sexist interactions. The one “date” scene is just cringe worthy and I wish it had been left out. It quite honestly felt like it was the fantasy or wet dream of every socially awkward geeky boy on the planet. It wasn’t needed and I think the story would have been stronger without it. I did like how the lead detective he deals with was a strong female, but again half the time he is referencing her appearance, sexuality or some other gender based stereotype. Just let her be a strong female detective, and either make her a love interest or a professional partner that is Harry’s equal. After all Harry can’t be romantically interested in every single woman he comes across. It leads to problems like people thinking your main character is misogynist. There were some other eye roll moments in the plot, some situations that felt a little Star Wars and its force inspired…
Not awful, but not great at times. Still I’m intrigued and will give this series a few books before I make up my mind on it as a whole. I’m going to give Harry a chance to grow a bit before I give up on him.