Storm Front by Jim Butcher: B-

From the back cover:
With rent past due and a decent meal becoming an issue of some importance, Harry Dresden needs work, and soon. A call from a distraught wife, and another from Lt. Murphy of the Chicago PD Special Investigation Unit makes Harry believe things are looking up, but they are about to get worse, much worse.

Someone is harnessing immense supernatural forces to commit a series of grisly murders. Someone has violated the first law of magic: Thou Shalt Not Kill. Tracking that someone takes Harry into the dangerous underbelly of Chicago, from mobsters to vampires, while he himself is under suspicion of the crimes. One thing is certain, if he can’t stop whoever is on the killing spree, Harry will be the next victim.

I will confess up front that I spent $40 for the unabridged audio edition solely because it’s read by James Marsters. I’ll not be doing that again. Not that Marsters was bad—he was quite good, really, aside from a couple mispronunciations (I’m pretty sure that when one refers to one’s self as a “spellslinger” it’s not intended to be pronounced “spells linger”)—but because I can’t see spending that much money on a book in this series now that I know what I’ll be getting.

What will I be getting?

1. Sexay laydays. Of the six female characters (including the first victim), four were sexay. Three of those worked in the sex trade in some capacity. Scenes with them involved sentences like, “She laughed, a sound rich enough to roll around naked in.” The fifth was a client whose missing husband was into the orgy scene. The sixth was a cop, possessed of martial arts skills but not averse to using feminine wiles to extract Harry’s cooperation on a case.

2. A yawner of a mystery. I’m not sure it’s possible for me to be less interested in mob-related plots. Harry’s angsty backstory wasn’t that great, either. Oh, also, he has a totally eyeroll-inducing name: Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden.

3. An interesting magic system. It seemed that a fair amount of thought went into devising it. Standard things like spells and potions seemed the norm, but I thought the method for preparing the latter was pretty neat.

4. A talking skull. Easily the most entertaining character in the book. It didn’t hurt that Marsters gave him a British accent, so that he kind of sounded like Spike.

I am reminded of the Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom books by Julie Kenner because, though this series has some serious flaws, I kind of want to keep reading it anyway. My local library has all but one of them, though only the most recent is available with Marsters’ narration. I’ll miss the Spike-sounding skull, but he isn’t worth $40.

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  1. Well… the sexay laydays is really because it’s a hard-boiled detective novel and you rarely get any laydays in those books who AREN’T sexay. Maybe if they’re under 10.

    The series does get better. Or at least, you start to like more of the characters. It’s very obviously written by a male though, and I occasionally see points where I know a woman would have written it differently.

  2. *nods to the point about hard-boiled* That’s very true. I don’t read much in that style, so I guess all the laydays seemed a bit much. 🙂

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