by Claire Ramsey
The latest installment in the popular Dresden series, Small Favor by Jim Butcher keeps the adventure and weird geeky humor going, keeping faith with Butcher’s many fans.
Private investigator Harry Dresden is the perfect noir detective. He tells his story in the first person with delicious irony. He habitually works all night. He drinks his beer warm at a pub (not a bar) you have to know about instinctively, since there is no sign on the door. His colleagues include Murph (the badass cop who looks like a high school cheerleader), Mac (who runs the pub), Molly (his apprentice), and Toot Toot (a pixie whose one aim in life is pizza.) And he is never without his gun, his black leather coat, and his staff etched with magic runes.
Oh! did I mention Dresden is also a wizard? I don’t know how Butcher does it, but somehow the mixture of noir detective story (you can practically see Dresden lurking in a black-and-white, somewhat grainy doorway) and fantasy geek fiction works to create an action packed story that is very hard to put down.
When Small Favor begins, Murph calls Harry in for his opinion on what looks like a routine apartment building fire in Chicago. The building was empty when the fire, or explosion, occured; the excitement of discovering a building with its front half missing is dying away, but Murph is willing to pay Harry out of the department’s coffee money to take a look. Which proves itself justified almost immediately as Harry discovers the building explosion was caused, not by a gas leak, but by a city-block-size pentagram invoked around the building. And evidence that the city’s most notorious criminal boss, Gentleman Johnny Marcone, was kidnapped from the building just before it blew.
Add in the queen of the winter fairies, summer fairy assassins called Gruffs (in ever-increasing sizes–yes, that’s right, like the Billy Goats Gruff), a Knight of the Cross carrying a holy sword, and, of course, our loyal pizza-loving pixie, and you have a recipe for a wonderful story and a rare commodity: a series title that can stand alone (but will leave you running for the library to read the rest of the series.) Discover a Chicago you’ve never seen, or even imagined!