by Jim Butcher
audio book narrated by James Marsters
Book 1 of The Dresden Files
Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he's the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the "everyday" world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don't play well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There's just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.
So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name. And that's when things start to get interesting.
Magic - it can get a guy killed.
So well, apparently I'm one of few who wasn't immediately enamored of this book/series. And strangely, I'm not sure if it was the book itself or my own personal habit of not getting along with urban fantasies. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book enough--it was easy to listen to on audio, and there were some parts that were interesting to an extent. And it's not like I purposefully go into any book, ever, planning not to like it. In fact, I was excited about listening to this book because I'd seen so many great reviews about the series.
Unfortunately, history has shown that I somehow just don't really get into urban fantasy very well. I try, because I've always been interested in urban fantasy, and all of the series sound like something that I would love to follow... but so far, there's only really been one or two series I've found that I like.
Ultimately, there was more about this book that didn't really hook me in the way I'd been expecting to be hooked, based on all the squee and high star ratings I'd been seeing all over the place. Of course, I know better by now that I don't always have to like what everyone else does, so no big deal. It's entirely possible I'd over-hyped myself. And maybe things get better as the series progresses.
As far as the story goes, the mystery itself was intriguing, and the entire concept of a wizard private investigator had loads of potential. Harry Dresden had his appeal, but I think that he maybe sometimes went a bit overboard with the snark... and that maybe he's a bit of a doormat compared to pretty much EVERYONE in this whole book.
I had a hard time seeing the close friendship between Harry and his Chicago P.D. connection, Karrin Murphy. In fact, the two of them seemed like master and slave, going by the way they interacted with one another. I understand that Harry wanted to remain on good terms with Murphy so he could continue to consult with the police through her, but there comes a time in life when one can only let another harass, insult, and bully him so much before maybe drawing a line somewhere.
As friends, Murphy seems to readily beat and threaten Harry without a care for him when he tells her that he can't help her with the murder investigation they way she wants him to help. I mean, would it kill her to just listen to Harry's reasons as to why he probably shouldn't go and research how to use magic to explode someone's heart?
As business associates, Murphy seems to have little respect for the help that she requests from Harry. He'd give her a bit of information, and all she tells him is, "That's not good enough, Harry." And when he requests some information that could potentially help him figure out what he's dealing with, she refuses to tell him anything. Ya'know, cause that's reasonable somehow.
Of course, it probably also doesn't help that Harry keeps his secrets as well. As much as I'd like to argue that Harry needs to be allowed to explain to Karrin why he can't do certain things... well, he doesn't exactly try very hard. It's kind of martyr-ish, in a way. And the annoying kind at that.
I keep listening to him get abused and insulted and bowled over by everyone in the book. I keep seeing him get angry, outraged, even... and then he just moves on without setting people right about mistaken ideas or whatnot. He mopes about how alone he feels and how no one understands the difficulties of his position... but doesn't bother telling anyone why. And even dismisses all of their behaviors as just not really knowing or understanding. Kind of a, "It's not their fault they didn't know this about me..." type of ordeal.
Well, Harry... TALK TO THEM!
The rest of the book was kind of a play on cliches, as Harry's life (and this book) is surrounded by sexy women who are attracted to him despite his social awkwardness, and self-proclaimed "terrible luck with women". There is not ONE character in this whole book, except maybe Bob the magic skull, whom I actually really liked--everyone is either rude or just plain mean. Even the EMTs who make a brief appearance are assholes. Seems like Harry, flaws and all, is the only person in this book who acts rational... until he doesn't.
Are there no good, nice people in the "Harry Dresden" world? Is it a given that all people in urban fantasies have to act like jackasses? Because I seem to keep coming across this kind of thing.
Maybe I just don't read the right urban fantasies--though, as I'd stated earlier, there IS one particular series I'm hooked to. But others seem to only appeal to me long enough to read just the first book. This is probably my own problem.
Anyway... I'm considering hopping into the next book anyway, just to see if the rest of the series will hook me enough to keep me going. I'm not out to flambe a series I don't like. I'm genuinely hoping I'll get hooked. So... we'll see, I guess.
On a side note, the audio narrated by James Masters was quite good. He's not the best narrator in the world--there was a LOT of huge breaths being taken and a LOT of sighing going on that kind got a bit irritating after awhile. But Marsters seems to give Harry that snarky, dry sarcasm that's scattered all over the book. He doesn't exactly manage the rest of the characters all that well, but the audio book made it easy to follow the story.