File under Noir, not Fantasy

The Dresden Files Books 1 and 2 by Jim Butcher


A few weeks ago while talking about crime series to read, my good blog-friend LizF recommended these books to me. As is often the case with me and my TBR mountains, I’d spotted them myself some time ago and had already picked up the first two in the series, (which now runs to over a dozen), but they’d got buried and forgotten.  They sounded just the sort of thing I wanted to read however, so I dug them out and I was not disappointed.  From the outset, I enjoyed  Storm Front,  the first one so much, that I went on to read the second, Fool Moon, straight away. Having met some of the recurring characters, it was perhaps even better than the first

Harry Dresden is a private investigator with a difference – he’s Chicago’s only practising wizard. Shame only a few people believe that magic works, else he wouldn’t have to scrape a living being a paranormal investigator.


Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting  Advice. Reasonable Rates.

No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties or Other Entertainment.”

Butcher’s website describes Harry thus: “Take Sam Spade, your Average Joe Underdog Action Star, and toss in some spellcraft, and you get Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Heck of a guy.”  I totally agree – he’s a noir magician gumshoe for the new millennium!

He’s also lucky in that one of the few believers in magic is Lieutenant Karrin Murphy of the Chicago Special Investigations unit.  When there’s an unusual crime in the neighbourhood, she calls him in to help much to the digust of some of the regular police officers.  There’s also Johnnie Marcone, the Tony Soprano of the city; he recognises Harry for what he is and knows he could be useful. And then there’s Bob … If you’re tempted, I’ll leave you to discover him for yourself.

In each of the novels, Harry faces dastardly magical crimes – from a double murder involving black magic in Storm Front to strange paw prints by a mutilated corpse at the wrong time of the month in Fool Moon.  These are hard-boiled detective novels with complex plots that just happen to have a magical element to them. Like Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse vampire novels, they have a degree of raunch and gore that makes them fairly adult too.  They’re also huge fun, and you’re with Harry for the ride all the way.  In the noir tradition, they’re narrated by reluctant action-hero Harry who has a droll delivery style as you’d expect.

These were right up my street, and I’m hoping for better still to come from subsequent installments.  With the recurring characters and back stories about the world of magic, I would suggest that they’re best read in order.

My ratings:   Storm Front 8/10.   Fool Moon 8.5/10

Source: Own copies

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