I hope everyone had as good of a holiday weekend as I had (I consider Friday the 13th to to be a holiday and a decidedly not-unlucky day). After a weekend full of psychobilly and general excitement, I figured given that something equally creepy would be in good style. I have been reading The Bootlegger by John E. Hallwas and had ambitious plans to have it finished by Thursday last week and be ready to review today…however as it’s a good book (BONUS MINI BOOK PREVIEW) it’s about as dry as a wrung rag: it’s not dripping with excitement but it’ll do. What was also adding to the lack of dampness were the other 3 books I was nibbling on the side, Storm Front being one(1) that, like the other books I’ve read in the Dresden Files series have been, ends up being too good to just nibble on(2) (I seriously feel like trying to nurse a Dresden Files novel is like, for me, trying to eat a soft oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, my favourite cookie for anyone taking notes, in no less than 200 bites: I’m not a strong enough man for that).
(NOTE: My friend Brad Evans, same guy who originally recommended the Dresden Files to me in the first place, wrote a great post on the graphic novel omnibus that covers the first three books of the Dresden Files (including Storm Front, obv) which can be read here: “spoiler free book review dresden files graphic novel omnibus one”)
Storm Front begins the Dresden Files, a hard boiled detective noir style story series, which follows a fellow who’s yellow pages advert reads:
Harry Dresden – Wizard
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable rates. No Love potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.
The series falls squarely in the urban fantasy sub genre being set in an okay middle American city called Chicago(3), which this series as a whole plays as an interesting counter part to a similar series (also urban fantasy, also a detective/action series) I read called Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter which is set in St Louis which I may revisit at some point.
The novel opens as one would expect a detective noir story to open: “Hard Luck Harry” sitting in his office killing time whilst waiting for work to come in when something disrupts his waiting
“I heard the mailman approach my office door, half an hour earlier than usual.”
-Storm Front, 1
Which sets an interesting president for use of common tropes for the rest of the novel which, despite how that sounds, is a really “good-interesting” thing.
I do like to complain about over used tropes in books(4) mostly because the fact that a motif becomes a trope is because it works however for it to continue to work in an interesting manour one has to make interesting use of said trope(5) and that’s something Butcher excels with in this first book.
Storm Front follows the format of a good detective novel: the A-story explores Harry Dresden’s “day life” as a consultant to the CPD Special Investigations unit investigating the mysterious and brutal death of a couple whilst the B-story explores Harry’s “night life” as a private eye on the case of a missing husband. The character line up is classically balanced with a “good cop, bad cop” duo, a few femme fatales, and a healthy number of potential threats and suspects that intertwine both the A and B stories.
I cannot recommend this book enough, nor can I write much more without spoilers, so with that if you haven’t read this book or any Dresden Files book (they are all in a continuous story line but each book works pretty well standing alone) I encourage you to to treat your self to an excellent read.
Tune in Friday continuing The Adventures of Fin and Louie.
- I’m also reading The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson and Letters from the Underworld by Dostoevsky both of which will get book reviews in the coming months.
- Before I started writing this blog I had read a few Dresden Files books starting with Skin Game, which is the current novel as of this writing, and from that first novel I was FUCKING HOOKED! I normally read an average of 100-200 pages in a good week and that book was 454 pages. I finished that shit in 3 days.
- The fact that St Louis consistently lives in Chicago’s shadow despite St Louis’s important and historically significant contribution in the development of the United States and the westward expansion plus the fact that we, as a city, are older than the United States as a fucking country is a constant sore spot culturally for St Louis folk. At least our baseball team doesn’t suck.
- Mostly. I generally just accept that most TV and Movies have to be held to a lower bar than the average book (in my personal opinion) however I do deeply appreciate a well crafted movie and watching video essays channels on youtube such as such as Lessons from the Screenplay, Every Frame a Painting, and Now You See It, that pick apart movies on technical levels of aspects I just don’t appreciate because I have no experience with film making.
- I’m not entirely convinced that we can write stories that don’t at all rely on some sort of trope or another since these bits of culturally or historically familiar archetypes seem to help ground the story in literary reality or in a cannon of understood story telling because even some of the most enigmatic stories I’ve read had some sort of possible archetypal understanding of the characters whether it be reading House of Leaves as a modern interpretation of Odin’s addiction to wisdom and Frigg’s journey of self-realisation through disassociation or Infinite Jest’s use of Socratic Dialogues via Marthe and Steeply as mouth-pieces. I’m sure they’re out there and I’d love to read one, if you think you know of one feel free to leave a comment or sent me a message.