Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Summer Knight Review

Title: Summer Knight
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: Dresden Files #4
Genre: Detective, Private Investigator, Urban Fantasy, Wizards, Faeries, Werewolves

In the previous book "Grave Peril", Harry Dresden's heroics had ruined a relationship, made enemies of just about every Red court vampire in the world, and put the White Council as a whole at considerable risk. It is no surprise to find "Summer Knight" begin with Harry succumbing to deep and severe depression, hiding in his basement laboratory desperately seeking a cure for Susan's vampiric curse, while his life gradually crumbles around him. Nothing is worse than a guilt-ridden wizard who has given up on housecleaning.

Harry's life being what it is, in no time at all things get very much worse. First, a old lady turns into a ghoul and nearly eats him, then Queen Mab of the Winter Court informs him the now owes her the dept since the Leanansidhe sold to her rights to that debt, and then the senoir members of the White Council of the wizards comes to Chicago to have a meeting with their most wayward member. The only way Harry can avoid getting himself in trouble again was to agree with Queen Mab to help find out who killed the Summer Knight before Faerie Armageddon breaks out all over.

Other than some assistance from a troop of pizza-loving pixies lead by Toot, and a den of teenage werewolves, Harry is on his own in this one. Whatever the reason for the murder was, no one wants Harry to find it. Out of the six queens who rule Faerie, one has hired him and the other five just might eliminate him on sight. Yet he must talk to all of them, as well as their supporters. Sometimes it seems that the Red Court vampires would have been a better choice.

Harry has this compulsion to be a hero and this at most gets him in much trouble. Unlike in "Grave Peril", however, the crises of this one seem to make Harry begin to pull himself back together. He develops enough acumen to keep him from always playing the role of victim, and this makes "Summer Knight" a very likeable effort.

Hard-boiled, tongue-in-cheek, wizard/private investigators are a rare commodity, and need to be nurtured. The dash of grittiness that Butcher used is just what is needed to keep the fantasy from becoming overblown. As always, the balance of action, drama and humor couple with James Marster's vocal talents in the narration of audiobook version has always been a my favorite element of this series.
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