Jim Butcher: Strom Front (2000) Book One of the Dresden Files

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I didn’t see this coming. A while back I reviewed Simon R. Green’s Something From the Nightside. A so-called Paranormal-Noir or Paranormal hard-boiled detective novel. I enjoyed Green’s book although I knew that his Nightside novels  were often compared to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and that most people thought Butcher’s series was superior. I was very keen on trying Storm Front, the first Book of the Dresden Files and see what I would think. I was convinced I would like the Dresden Files much better.  Well . . .  I didn’t. And that for a simple reason: I found it too silly. It’s not without merits, I can see the appeal because, even more than Green’s Nightside novels, this is classic hardboiled detective terrain. Only the detective is a wizard. Even that would be OK but the magic that is used in this book did just not work for me. Dresden often conjures up things, and casts spells, and to do so he uses some fake Latin which was really painful to read. Ventas! Fuego! Scorpis!  . . .  Most of it sounded like some kind of Esperanto. I can’t help it but I’ve had a classic upbringing, I had to learn Latin and some old Greek at school, sloppy fake Latin conjuring is just not going to do it for me. I see that part of it is meant as a parody (or at least I hope so) but that didn’t make it any better.

The story as such was interesting enough. Harry is called by the police to help in the investigation of a grisly double murder. Two people have literally been turned inside out and it is obvious that the perpetrator used powerful black magic. At the same time Harry is  hired to look into the disappearance of someone’s husband who has been dabbling in magic.

In typical hardboiled style, women are after Harry, he gets beaten up more than once, the mob takes an interest in him, the Council of the white mages suspects he is the killer and so on and so forth. Some of it is quite amusing. Harry has a ghostly assistant who resides in a skull and who likes to chase girls. Some of the repartee with clients, journalists, police is amusing too.

Some people complained that Green squeezed the same amount of story that takes up 350 pages in the Dresden Files into barely 200 pages. I must say, I liked the condensed  approach much better. After I finished Something From the Nightside, I felt compelled to read the next in the series. I don’t think I’m going to read Book Two of the Dresden Files.