Monday, June 8, 2015

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Every so often I get all weepy and sentimental about my old favorite authors and stories, and have to drag their dusty spines off the shelves to re-read. That, after all, is why I acquired such a huge collection; you never know what the mood will strike you to read at 3 AM on a sleepless night.

So, I cracked the figurative cover on the first book in the Harry Dresden series the other night, and got to spend a bit of time with a very old friend.

One of the first things I noticed was how many things the writers, producers and casting agents of the short-lived TV series The Dresden Files got wrong. This may be why it wasn't supported by fans and renewed for a second season on the Sci Fi Channel, though I thought it was delightful in its own right, and would have been a touch anticlimactic if it had simply followed the story line of the novels slavishly.

Harry's detective friend, Karen Murphy, is described in the book as a blonde, not the brunette played by Valerie Cruz. Harry drives a blue, battered Volkswagen, not a Land Rover. Morgan is not an enigmatic and intelligent black man, he's a dull Scottish thug in the books.

Storm Front introduces us to most of the important characters in Butcher's Chicago, including Gentleman Johnny Marcone, the ruthless yet charming ruler of the mundane underworld, Detective Carmichael, Murphy's skeptical sidekick, ace investigative reporter Susan, the pizza-loving faery, Toot, neutral (like the Swiss) bar proprietor MacAnally, and the beautiful yet deadly vampire, Bianca, who runs the elegant brothel, the Velvet Room.

 Note, in the TV series, Harry and Bianca were once romantically involved, in the books Harry discovers Bianca's true form early in the game, and is never fooled by her semblance of humanity after that.

One point of congruence is that in both the novels and the show Harry is on probation with the White Council, wizardry's governing body, for the murder - or self defense killing - of his uncle, Justin Mornay, a black wizard if ever there was one.

Plot summary - People are being murdered with black magic in Chicago. Murphy asks for Harry's help to investigate, but both she and Morgan, as the White Council's representative are not certain that Harry himself isn't the perpetrator. He's also been hired to find a woman's missing husband, and the two cases rapidly become intertwined and knotty.

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