Reviewed: November 12, 2009
By: Jim Butcher
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
“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.