by Jim Butcher
Review by Drew Bittner
Roc / Penguin Putnam PPBK ISBN/ITEM#: 0451459873
Date: August 3, 2004 List Price 6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
At Thomas' bidding, Harry sets out to protect adult entertainment producer Arturo Genosa and his independent film company from a string of curses. The curses, Harry realizes, are not sophisticated, but are brute force enchantments designed to cause fatal (if highly improbable) accidents. Just after Harry arrives, two actors are struck down by a gruesome mishap; his quick action saves their lives, but doesn't bring him any closer to solving the case.
He finds that Arturo has three ex-wives, one of whom still works for him as an actress. Tricia Scrump (aka fading porn star Trixie Vixen) demands star treatment and gets it, but her temper tantrums and overall viciousness impress Harry, earning her a spot as his number one suspect. However, he quickly realizes Trixie doesn't have the brains to pull off a major curse. But if not her? Who?
Though he's a whiz at magic, legwork is not always Harry's forte. He calls on his friend police lieutenant Karrin Murphy, a survivor of more than one of Dresden's adventures. She digs up some useful info, as does Bob, the spirit occupying a skull in Harry's basement - when he's not busy joyriding around inside Harry's antisocial cat Mister.
It seems someone is moving to control the adult entertainment industry in the Chicago area and Genosa is stubbornly independent. If he can't be bought off or scared off, he'll have to be killed off. Problem is, the curse seems to hit the people around Arturo, but never the producer himself, which baffles Harry further.
He seeks help from Thomas' half-sisters: Lara, a succubus who dabbles in porn acting, and Inari, a teenager who hasn't come into her power yet but does have a budding romance of her own. Helping Thomas pits Harry against Thomas' autocratic father, whose animosity is both curious and unconcealed. Having vampires of all sorts gunning for him proves a little much, so Harry calls in more backup in the form of Ebenezar, his mentor and sole support on the wizard's White Council.
Unfortunately, Ebenezar and Harry's other hired gun have sworn to kill each other on sight for reasons that challenge Harry's respect for the older wizard. Needless to say, the moment you start a big fight against a lot of vampires is a bad time to have a crisis of faith.
Butcher weaves an intricate plot in this novel, constructing the story along the lines of a classic mystery with the trappings of an urban fantasy novel. Harry has a puzzle to solve and, armed with his sarcastic attitude and blasting rod, he won't stop until he knows what's going on. Even if it kills him. (Which it hasn't so far.) Butcher's sixth Harry Dresden novel moves the titular hero into new territory, as revelations about his past come to light.
Harry's past has been revealed in small doses over the past five books, but this one pays off the set up Butcher has provided so far. If suffering causes growth, then Harry grows by leaps and bounds in this story - but (lucky for us fans) there's no reason to think Harry can't go on for years to come.