“Storm Front” by Jim Butcher. Roc Books. 372 pages.
I have a student named Andrew that is also a colleague in our student-led campus creative writing group, The Rough Writers. He has been going on and on about Jim Butcher and especially about the Dresden Files series. And so I got a good deal at Amazon (don’t you just love used books for 1 cent?), and that prompted me to check it out.
I have said before that most pitches in Hollywood are a merging of two or three ideas. If I had to pitch this book, it would be as Philip Marlowe meets Harry Potter. Because that’s really what it is: a murder mystery in a world where wizards, vampires and demons exist. Harry Dresden is a wizard–one of the good ones–who is also a private investigator. Just like any other PI, he gets clients who come in off the street, and is called in by the local PD–in this case in Chicago–when there is a case that calls for his expertise.
In the case of this story, just like any other murder mystery, there are myriad suspects, lots of danger (the magical kind as well as the gangster kind), beautiful women and a hard-boiled detective who is financially hurting. It’s your typical formula for the genre, with the added element of magic. That element, and a polished writing style makes the story worth reading.
I am not a fan of this genre; magic is not my thing. But the voice that the author used in the first few pages hooked me. It was clean writing that I found refreshing. The story is relatively free from swearing (I did notice one incident where the author said, “He swore.”) which is also refreshing, sex is alluded to but not overt, violence is restrained. But it’s a rollicking good story. I had fun reading it, and will look for more in the series.
I give this one five out of five stars.