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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Small Favor

Reviewed: November 12, 2009
By: Jim Butcher
Publisher: Signet
560 pages, $10.99

Butcher made his name with the Dresden Files, a series which blends the supernatural thriller with the style of the hard-boiled private eye novel. The latest paperback, Small Favors, has that first person, tough guy, mean streets tone from the very opening sentence.

“Winter came early that year; it should have been a tip-off.”

Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a wizard. It says so right there in his classified newspaper advertising. Among other projects he consults with the Chicago police force when they have cases that are too weird for regular consultants. Having a building partially destroyed by chaotic magic falls under that category, especially when the part of the building that vanished contained a panic room fortress belonging to crime lord John Marcone.

By that point in the story Harry has already found himself under assault by minions of the Summer Queen, a faerie ruler in the other dimension he calls the Nevernever. He doesn’t know why.

Shortly after that he finds that another faerie ruler, Queen Mab, is calling is a favour that he owes her: he has to find and rescue Macone.

After that his life becomes infinitely complicated in one of those pell-mell adventures that typify the Dresden books. Most of the stories have the headlong pace of an Alistair Maclean novel, taking place in one or two days during which Harry is sleep deprived and generally beaten on until he (you should excuse the expression) pulls a rabbit out of a hat somewhere near the end.

Butcher’s creation has already seen a short alternate life on television in a series which was not renewed but was a cult favorite and is apparently selling well in DVD. It is also the basis for a series of graphic novels based more closely on the novels as well as being the source for a role playing game.

Successful as all of this has been for him, with 12 books in the series do far, it turns out that his first love was high fantasy.

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