Susan (not_cynical) wrote in bookturnedmind,

[40/75] Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Reasonable rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.
Harry Dresden is the best at what he does - and not just because he's the only one who does it. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal capabilities, they come to him for answers. Because the everyday world is not as "everyday" as it seems. It's actually full of strange and supernatural - and most of them don't play well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a- well, whatever it is the police are having trouble with this time.
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.

So, I'm a member of lkh_lashouts - a community dedicated to mocking and frothing about the works of Laurel K. Hamilton, who used to write a paranormal detective series before it turned into bad porn. Jim Butcher is one of the writers who's always mentioned over there as a GOOD paranormal detective writer. One with decent prose, something approaching realism, and actual consequences for the characters.

I'm actually kinda surprised, but they were right.

The book's short - a three or four hour read at most, and it's pretty fast paced. Admittedly, that's mostly due to Murphy's Law at EVERY opportunity (And if you think I'm joking...) and things get a bit rushed towards the end, but everything ties together really well, and I like the world building - although I generally only object to infodumps if they're really obnoxious, so. Some of the descriptions (especially of the women), sound like they're repeated to hell and back, but some of them are wonderful. The only example coming to mind though is one of a vampire's true form in the middle of the book, but I'm sure there are others that I'd actually be able to quote if I'd done the sensible thing and kept the book near me for this. (Although the aftermath was kinda a prime example of told-not-shown, which depresses me.)

Harry Dresden is the sort of character I will cheer for any time - crotchety and sarcastic, bookish, wrecks havok on technology (and THAT was a detail that cracked me up - I love that there are LITTLE consequences to wizardry in this world as well as big ones; on that topic I also love that Jim Butcher's willing to let his characters cock something up). Kinda old fashioned (and on one level, I like it and on another I think I got to the point where I started rolling my eyes every time the word "feminine" came up), and so unlucky I wouldn't stand in the same building as him in a thunderstorm. Like I said, Murphy's Law the WHOLE WAY THROUGH THIS BOOK. The other characters I don't think were as well fleshed out (basic personality, yes, but I COULD actually play clichéd character bingo with this and probably get a full house), but for writing a character in first person POV that I LIKED I'll forgive Jim Butcher a hell of a lot. And that's without factoring in how Harry doesn't get to solve his problems by waving his hand and using a bit of magic, and how he actually does stuff like have Harry be attacked while he was in the shower, which is kinda hilarious and again, consequences, DO WANT. (Some of his logic in other places is admittedly out of whack to make up for it, but still.).

What this reminds me of, really, is some of the older crime stories - the only one springing to mind is Raymond Chandler, and they're not really similar in any way, but that's the closest thing I can think of as an example of the feel. Tone. ... Okay, I'm not sure what I mean either, but this stuff pings me in the exact same way Raymond Chandler's did.

Verdict: It's really not bad! Not exactly Great Literature, but it's not bad!
Tags: author: jim butcher, genre: paranormal detective, verdict: good within reason
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