Thursday, April 24, 2008

Things that go BUMP!!!! in the Night

Small Favor is the latest of Jim Butcher's edge-of-your-chair series of fantasy detective yarns "The Dresden Files," featuring Harry Dresden, Chicago's only wizard who advertises in the Yellow Pages. Together with his cat Mister and an oddball assortment of both human and non-human associates Harry Dresden takes on all comers, no matter how scary.

I started reading this series because one of my co-workers recommended it. I was a bit skeptical, because I'm not a big fan of fantasy or vampires. I do have a soft spot for detective yarns, which was the selling point for me. But after the first story, nay the first dozen pages of the first story, I was well and truly hooked.

In some ways this character is the cliché of clichés: the tough fighter for justice, who gets bloodied every time by opponents who are way tougher than he is, but he somehow wins in the end because he's smarter than the bad guys, and because in Dresden's world the Good Guys win - provided they stick it out to the bitter end.

But in spite of that, the stories are huge fun to read. Somehow Butcher manages to make each story more gripping than the last, which is a trick in any series, but a truly remarkable accomplishment when dealing with material that already has a well established literary history.

The stories start with Storm Front, where Dresden and his immediate friends are introduced. In the ensuing stories Dresden deals with crime lords, evil wizards, vampires, necromancers, werewolves, and any number of assorted supernatural creatures designed to make you stay firmly within your threshhold protected and magically warded home, lest you meet up with one of them.

If you don't mind getting solidly sucked into a series, to a point where you can't wait for the next book, "The Dresden Files" is for you.

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