Storm Front (a book review)

Storm Front
Takes place in Chicago. What else do you need to know?

I guess I’m a little behind on this series; it never caught my eye (I can’t think of a reason). To put it into context: this book is from 2000, so it has quaint little features like pay phones at the airport and insanely cheap rent. So why read it now?

I was looking at graphic novels at a Barnes and Noble when a random stranger struck up a conversation with me about comics and sci-fi. I mentioned my love of mystery novels and suddenly he recommended The Dresden Files to me. It turns out the series set in Chicago. How could I not know that? Everything should be set in Chicago. (What about The Martian? Yes. Prove me wrong.) The store happened to have the first book, Storm Front, in the series so I went for it.

Aside: this is why I prefer brick and mortar to shopping online. This conversation would have never happened otherwise. Also, I could get a cup of tea from the bookstore’s cafe. The internet has never offered me liquid refreshment while browsing (not after I ruined my last keyboard).

The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher, revolve around a practicing magician who lives and works in the Windy City, much like a psychic, but more believable. This magician, Harry Dresden, moonlights as a consultant for the Chicago Police Department,which surely means mysteries are afoot.

Being the first in the series, you would think the author would have some serious exposition. The author, however, decides to conduct his world-building as the story progresses. Instead of an information dump at the beginning, we get, “Hi, I’m Harry Dresden, I’m a magician, and … hold on, CPD just called me about a dead body I need to investigate.”

That, in my opinion, is awesome. Not the dead body thing. It’s a just a book, relax.

So our hero gets thrown right into the fray.  Along the way, readers will be brought up to speed on everything from Harry’s regular day job to his personal life to the secret world of magic that he inhabits.It’s never boring because the author relates all these revelations to the story at hand. And this story, this murder, is rather nasty. Someone is abusing magician the worst way. Even better, someone is trying to frame Harry for it. The cherry on top? No one believes Harry.

I really enjoyed this novel. I’m glad I didn’t let its publication date or the length of the series get in the way of reading it. It’s creative, funny, thrilling at times, and overall just a fun read. Harry Dresden is a great character with limitless possibilities. The author knows it too and he teases at a lot of intriguing backstory and other adventures hiding behind the curtain.

From a mystery standpoint, I would have liked to have seen a few more red herrings or spaced-out clues. It’s a little uneven and the middle almost hits the point of being over-long. But there’s enough new and interesting stuff going on that it didn’t matter in the end. I’ve already read the next few installments and they just get better.

Fun stuff!

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