Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher

Rating: 4.5/5
446 pages
Publisher: Roc
Source: My collection

Description: Ever since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry Dresden has been down and out in Chicago. He can't pay his rent. He's alienating his friends. He can't even recall the last time he took a shower.

The only professional wizard in the phone book has become a desperate man.

And just when it seems things can't get any worse, in saunters the Winter Queen of Faerie. She has an offer Harry can't refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold his faerie godmother has over him--and hopefully end his run of bad luck. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen's right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen's name.

It seems simple enough, but Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case. No pressure or anything...
(from the back cover)

Review: This is book four in the Dresden Files series. While it does reference events of the previous three books, there's enough relevant info given that you don't have to have read them. On the flipside, there's enough info on previous books to provide spoilers for them. So, I'd recommend reading those first.

This is one of those series that seems to get better as it goes along. The first book showed enough promise for me to want to read book two, and I've been enjoying each of the books more as I go along.

This book is, sort of, a mystery, with Harry desperately scrambling to solve a murder, which is not his area of expertise. The murder plot was well handled and the whodunit revelation made sense.

A subplot involving a hired assassin who is trying to kill Harry, on the other hand, didn't really make sense. While the why behind the murder attempts is actually pretty obvious, and the story doesn't really try to hide it, and the revelation on who actually did the hiring makes sense once revealed, it doesn't explain how this person and the hired killer managed to kept knowing where Harry was going to be. The people who want Harry dead, and are explicated stated to have directed the killers to the final attempt, have no connection to the events in question, so shouldn't know where Harry will be headed.

There are also other clunky bits, like a person from Harry's past just happening to come up in conversation shortly before showing up in the book and also some very dubious choices in descriptions of members of a group of mages.

Plus, between the choice of first person narration and the name of the series, Harry never quite feels like he's in as much danger as he seems to be. At least he's the kind of character who its actually entertaining to be inside the head of.

Overall, a good read, with a likable main character and a decent main story. There's still room for improvement though.

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