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If you have perhaps caught the television show on SKY ONE based on this new series of novels about Private Eye-turned-wizard Harry Dresden, then you might be a little put off in reading the original novels. This would be a mistake as these are both much more unique and entertaining than the T.V series would have you believe. In fact the show comes over like a very bad episode of Angel or Buffy with none of the charateristics that make the novels such fun.
Harry Dresden is Chicago's only practising wizard who occasionally works in connection with a special branch of the Chicago P.D that deals exclusively with abnormal murder scenes. Following events in the previous novel, STORM FRONT, Harry has currently fallen out of favour with his police colleagues and is being heavily linked with a seedy, organised crime boss who has his fingers in plenty of pies throughout the city. Business is slow, bills urgently need paying when along comes a series of highly gruesome deaths that strongly suggest the presence of a werewolf in Chicago; maybe even more than one....
As one of the few people with knowledge of all things supernatural, Harry is brought in to lend his expertise and soon finds himself becoming more and more involved as events begin to spiral out of control. Before the end of the novel, friendships will be tested almost to breaking point, old acquaintances will be lost and Harry will find his magical abilities tested to the limit....with blood and gore galore, this is certainly no Harry Potter fantasy...
This is proving to be a highy refreshing and entertaining series from a very talented up-and-coming writer. Comparable to Kelley Armstrong in style, Jim Butcher still manages to take a cliched, oft-repeated genre and install it with new blood and life. Certainly this puts the T.V series of the same name to shame and Harry Dresden's character is both believable and credible as he attempts to deal with situations about as far from the ordinary as you can get.
I also enjoy the way that much of Dresden's back-story is still a mystery to the reader with plenty of subtle hints and revelations being dropped with each successive novel in the series. This is a very neat hook and a great way to keep the reader interested in following this story arc to it's conclusion. Certainly this series is much better than the similar veined Anita Blake novels by Llaurell.K.Hamilton which, in bit's latest incarnations, has resorted to portraying it's lead character as some kind of nymphomaniac slut who cannot keep her knickers on and cavorts with vampires and werewolves at every opportunity. With a recent abundance of this kind of novel (in my local Waterstones I recently counted at least four series' all of a similar theme) this is certainly one of the best on the market.
My only complaint is that perhaps this novel is not quite as gripping as Dresden's debut and the four different categorisations of werewolves featured here can make this novel, at times, a little confusing but overall, even at its weakest, this novel still beats others of it's type on the market hands down every time so far. Plus the novels themselves are relatively short enabling you to read them in only a few sittings!!
Overall, if you like all things supernatural and are looking for something dark and gloomy with occasional glimpses of very subtle humour then you would do worse than pick up one of this series. The story-arc developing suggests that you would do better to read them in order but both of the first books I have read can just as easily be read as stand-alone novels too.
Available in paperback from Amazon and all good booksellers....
As a copious reader of crime fiction I have witnessed many different attempts at authors seeking new and refreshing ways to add spice and originality to their particular take on the Private Eye genre. The generic author will stick to an ex-cop who has an alcohol problem and an ex-wife. Some authors may move away from this by having a burglar solve cases or a mobile Librarian. These twists may seem peculiar to you, but they are nowhere near the extreme notions that I have read. How about a Vampire who seeks justice for the underworld, or even a dinosaur dressed in a man suit? Now added to this list of peculiar PIs is Harry Dresden, a typical Chicago gum shoe, typical that is until you realise he is the only mystery solving Wizard in the state.
Harry Dresden, Wizard PI, is back in a deadly case of wolf eat wolf. It all starts off pretty normally when he stumbles across three zombies trying to eat the brains of a student. After dispatching the brain hungry undead Harry sets out to uncover who the original Zombie is. However, he soon discovers that the problem is not with the flaky skinned, but the hairy. Something is going around the city every four weeks and ripping people apart. Sounds like a straight forward werewolf case, but if you are as knowledgeable as Harry youll know that there are four different types of werewolf and this one looks like the most deadly species.
Fool Moon is a great concept really well written. This is the second in the series and the first that I have read, but it did not take me long to really gel with the characters. It is the central role of Harry Dresden that really makes this book a page turner because although he is a Wizard, he is certainly flawed. Harry is a man who works outside the council of Wizards to try and help normal people in Chicago. They dont know that things go bump in the night and Harry must protect them without blowing his cover. He is a very funny character with a dry wit and a noble heart. Jim Butcher is not scared to get Harry beaten up or make him fail as this makes the character that much more fun to read about.
The well developed characterisations continue with the people that Harry meets throughout the book. He has a sidekick of sorts in a very old talking skull. He also has a frosty relationship with a female police officer, Detective Murphy, who he aids in capturing goblins and ghoulies. She is one of a few people that know that there are monsters out there and she heads a group set up to destroy them. I loved the idea that Harry tells everyone he meets that he is a Wizard and he very rarely tells them anything but the truth. However, his opinions are so out there for the average person that they dont believe him anyway this works brilliantly in the book.
The area that I probably enjoyed even more than the characters was Butchers choice to create four different types of werewolf. The cursed kind, the kind that choose to change, ones who change using magic clothing and finally wolves that become men! The fact that the killer could be any from this list means that the book takes on a far deeper dimension as the different factions battle one another. The different sects are explained well in the book and lift it from an average read.
With such great characters and ideas it is a shame that Butcher is not able to create a storyline that matches up. Setting a noir crime novel in a world of werewolves and wizards can not be easy, but Butcher does a great job in achieving it. For all intents and purposes the book is a straight forwards PI mystery that just happens to have elements of the supernatural. The very basics are Harry Dresden on the hunt for a killer. These basic plot elements such as motive fall slightly flat as the reason behind the killings are slightly convoluted and not as strong as the story deserves. However, the way that Butcher writes the set pieces in the book makes up for this.
Fool Moon is a noble attempt at combining science fiction and crime and it succeeds at doing just this. As these are my two favourite genres I was impressed with the book and felt it is a must read for people like me. However, the supernatural elements do overpower the noir elements meaning that at heart this is fantasy and not crime. Any fan of fantasy will love this book, but I feel that crime fans would not as there are too many fantastic visions. Saying that, if you are looking for something a bit different Fool Moon is a great book that offers interesting fantasy elements as well as a solid crime storyline. Its easy to see why they have made these books into a TV series as the potential is huge.
Author: Jim Butcher
Price: amazon uk - £5.28
play.com - £5.49
Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn't been able to dredge up any kind of work - magical or mundane. But just when it looks like he can't afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise. A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses - and the first two don't count.