Harry Dresden, professional wizard and Warden of the White Council, embarks on his eleventh adventure in Turn Coat. As usual, he suffers physical abuse, endures mental duress, and must somehow work three disparate storylines together into a coherent resolution so that good will prevail for another day.
I don’t mean to make this seem ho-hum or formulaic. The Dresden Files succeed admirably well as quick-to-devour escapist fiction. Butcher makes no pretense of writing anything else, combining his noir sensibilities with a fantastically realized world that gets deeper with every entry in the series.
In this outing, Dresden must help his arch nemesis on the White Council, Morgan, beat a murder charge. The problem is that Morgan is caught standing over the body of a senior council member with the murder weapon in hand. He flees the scene and arrives at Harry Dresden’s apartment. Harry must put aside his enmity and his personal feelings against Morgan to unravel a mystery that involves the White Court (a group of vampires that feed on strong emotions) and a conpsiracy within the White Council itself.
Butcher is finally addressing some of the conspiracy theories that have been evolving over the past several novels by showing some of the political interplay of his world. The description of the wizard headquarters (in the catacombs of Edinburgh) is described in visceral, breathtaking detail. Some critics have said the Dresden Files books are a Harry Potter fantasy for grown-ups, but I never quite got the connection until Butcher took me through this significant reveal.
For all that this is typical Harry Dresden fare, Butcher makes a couple of missteps. In my opinion, he squanders a great opportunity to reveal some interesting things about Dresden’s universe at the climax of the story, choosing instead what was an obvious solution to the mystery. It could be that I grasp the Dresden formula so well after reading so many of the novels, but I did feel a little cheated. Since it is a given that Dresden is well-nigh invincible (which takes away some tension from the many action scenes), Butcher turned to a heart-wrenching twist at the end to show that Dresden could still be wounded.
These books have never been about the ending, but about the journey. The smartass wisecracks and the witty commentary are still there in spades, including several moments that are laugh out loud funny. There is also a particularly impressive bit of magic toward the latter half of the book that will leave most people familiar with the world stunned. There’s no argument that the cool factor remains high for this series. Butcher needs to address some of the plot threads he’s introduced thus far in to keep readers interested. There is a lot that is left simmering below the surface, which should give Butcher the legs to write some incredibly entertaining fiction between now and the end of the series.
Should you read it? Absolutely. If you’re not familiar with Dresden Files, ignore the bastardization of the world that was on the Science Fiction channel and go read Storm Front, the first in the series.