Book’em: The Desden files “Turncoat.”
This book was plucked off the shelf while in London as “research” for another project. I finally got around to cracking it open last Friday evening and finished it the next day around 5 pm; placing the book firmly in the” glued to hand” level of enjoyment. However, since I actually did something with my Saturday and managed to go to bed at 12 on Friday, it doesn’t quite reach “You’ll have to pry it out of my cold dead hands” level of hooked-ness. Fortunately those sorts of books don’t fall into my hands very often. The last one that did it to me was Harry Potter 7, despite my general dislike of Harry (every clerk that sees the name on my debit card suddenly turns into a comedian), I sat on my couch with that book and did not rise from it until I had reached the end at about 7 am in the morning.
Where was I? Right, Dresden File’s Turn Coat. Take two shots of Philip Marlowe, pour into distilled essence of White Wolf’s World of Darkness. Stir with a narrow unicorn horn and you might get something like Harry Dresden, wizard PI and star of this series. In Turn Coat, Harry finds himself mired in the middle of a conflict between his bosses (The wizard council), vampires and an ancient Native American skin changer. He gets into this pickle when his worst enemy shows up wounded on Harry’s doorstep, asks for help and then promptly passes out before Harry can slam the door in his face. Needless to say, they’re both in for a rough week.
The book’s first person narrative has a great rhythm to it and doesn’t go overboard with heavy metaphors like some other authors that drive me nuts. The author, Jim Butcher, manages to strike a good balance between descriptions and moving the action forward. There was no point where I had to reread passages to figure out what happened. Actually the more chaotic the scene the better the writing is. The fight scenes are amazing in both their complexity and imagery. For example, in the first fight scene, Harry is dealing with a creature that is veiled, a defensive spell that both renders the caster invisible and wards against hostile magic, a tricky thing to describe. Yet, Butcher manages to show us how this veil ripples, bends and parts under the savage assaults of Harry and friends in a way that is breathtaking to watch. I’ll definitely be rereading the book with an eye towards how Jim depicts actions. Magic is likewise described in an inspired manner with creative twists on the workings of magic.
Turn Coat has a lot of nods to classic, hard-boiled detective stories. The most glaring is the women. There is not a single woman in the book that is not drop dead gorgeous. From the female Vampires that possess unnatural beauty and fight like a blend of the Matrix and Kill Bill babes to the rugged beauty of Dresden’s cop friend. Even minor one note females are noted as exceptionally attractive. My wife proposes that boob jobs and weight loss must be side effects of magical exposure. I personally expect that over use of magic might have given Dresden a really bad and permanent case of beer goggles. Just something you notice.
I’m sure there are flaws in the book that may manifest themselves with a repeat readings but there is nothing that rips you out of the narrative. The story builds smoothly into a brilliant show down in the final quarter of the book at which point its impossible to stop reading. I recommend this story without reservations and I’ll be seeking out the other books in the series. Also don’t feel you have to read this series in order, Butcher gives you just enough back story so the book can stand on its own.
Have you read this book or one of the others in the series? If you have, please tell me what you thought of it in the comments.