Reviewed: March 7, 2006
By: Jim Butcher
Publisher: ROC Fantasy
322 pages, $10.99
American author Jim Butcher has taken
a different approach to the idea, His Dresden Files feature a private eye
type who has hung out his shingle as a professional “Wizard - Lost Items Found,
Paranormal Investigations,” etc. Harry Dresden sometimes consults for the
Chicago police, with whom he has an ambiguous relationship. One of the side
effects of his powers is that electronics and other technology tend to work
erratically when he is around.
In truth, Harry’s self-narrated adventures
remind me strongly of Howard Engel’s Ontario based PI, Benny Cooperman. There’s
that same barely-scraping-alongness to both characters, and Harry has that
same self-deprecating tone.
People are getting killed by unnatural
lightning bolts and Harry signs on to find out why and how. He has to do this
using as little magic as possible, except in his own self defense, since he
is in the bad books of something called the White Council. We don’t know why,
so there is bound to be a lot of back story that Butcher will reveal in later
novels. So far there are seven books in the series, this earlier first volume
having been re-released to coincide with the latest hard cover.
Harry’s world seems to be a few years
after ours, or else it’s another world, like Hamilton’s and Armstrong’s. The
millennium has turned, so he’s in the 21st century, when the reputation of
science had been somewhat tarnished by Mad Cow Disease, Y2K, the Avian Flu
Scare, designer drugs and exploding space shuttles. People began to look more
to the paranormal for answers and, perhaps, for hope. Practitioners came out
of the closet, so to speak, and the topic became respectable.
Come to think of it, looking at the
fall and winter lineup of hit television shows, maybe Harry’s in our world
after all. The first book was fun. I’ll pick number two some time, if only
to find out more about Morgan and the White Council.