The place is Chicago and Harry Dresden is a professional wizard. No really, Harry is listed in the phone book as a wizard for hire. If you want to find something or someone you've lost, need a potion brewed or a bit of a protection spell, then Harry is your man … or wizard.
He's also the guy the Chicago P.D. Special Investigations department call in when they have a case that transcends the normal physical limitations of your average perp. Trouble is, the wizarding business isn't what you'd call lucrative so when he gets called in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with what appears to be black magic, Harry jumps at the chance to earn some much needed cash. But where there's black magic, there's usually someone really nasty behind it and now that guy knows Harry's name. And that's when things start to get … interesting. Magic. It can get a guy killed!
This is the first in a series that has, to date, spawned 11 novels along with audiobooks so there's no mistaking that Butcher has hit on a very successful formula with both the reading public and his publisher. It even made it into a TV series for a season in 2007 and then fell foul of the big studio clampdown that killed off loads of sci-fi series at the time, simply because of the high production costs. However, with all of that behind it, I reckoned it was worth taking a chance that The Dresden Files were worth a read and where better to start but at the beginning.
Butcher tells the story from the point of view of Harry Dresden in much the same narrative style as a Mickey Spillane detective novel. It's a good formula, it sold Spillane over 225 million copies worldwide, and it works well here too. Adding magic to a basic gumshoe type story is what this is all about and that makes it that much more interesting. It's not only the bad guys our hero has to contend with, it's bad guys with magical powers and demons too.
Storm Front isn't what you'd call a big book and most people will get through it in a few sittings but it's a good introduction to the series and the characters and, if the rest of the books follow the same easy reading style along with some gritty crime drama, then they'll make ideal travelling companions for filling out those long holiday journeys or even just to pass a rainy day.
Genre: Crime, Fantasy
My Rating: 7/10