Sunday, October 20, 2002

Review: "Summer Knight" by Jim Butcher

With Halloween approaching, it's a perfect time to check back in with my favorite wizard-for-hire Harry Dresden. Jim Butcher's sleuth always seems to find himself surrounded by the creatures of the season - ghouls, vampires, werewolves and assorted other nasties. His latest adventure, "Summer Knight" (Roc, $6.99) is no exception.

First, Harry gets a visit from Mab, queen of the Winter Court of the sidhe. She's got a case for him, and it's one he can't refuse. Mab has purchased Harry's obligation from his faerie godmother Lea, and now he owes her. She asks him to investigate a death that's been ruled accidental by the police. She thinks otherwise. It just so happens that the deceased is a knight of the Summer Court of the sidhe.

Complicating matters, the White Council of wizards find themselves on the edge of a war with the Red Court of vampires, largely due to a confrontation between Harry and a group of vampires in Chicago. The Red Court has already struck against the wizards and are demanding that Harry be turned over to them. Half of the White Council wants to turn him over, and the other half isn't exactly in his corner. Harry's only way out is to solve the case and in the process prevent a war between the Summer and Winter Courts.

This is the fourth volume of the Dresden Files, and Butcher has not disappointed yet. "Summer Knight" starts with a bang and doesn't let up.

Butcher's tales meld the wonder and fun of the "Harry Potter" series, but with an adult tone and attitude. Mystery fans who approach the series with an open mind about stories that include vampires, faeries and the like, will find a very good detective series. Fantasy fans might just find that the mystery side appeals to them as well. But fans of any kind of fiction can enjoy Butcher's fun and fast-paced style.

"Summer Knight" also shows great development in both the character of Harry Dresden and Butcher's writing style. It's probably the most developed and satisfying story line of the series so far.

Thanks to the success of series by Laurell K. Hamilton and a handful of others, there's no shortage of writers churning out supernatural detective stories these days, but Butcher is most definitely among the best. I can't wait until Harry Dresden is on the case again.

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