Finding ourselves headed 12 hours by car up the road to Wisconsin for the Fox Cities Book Festival, Jack and I put out a plea to friends for recorded books. (We forgot our town library doesn’t open until 1 pm on Saturdays, and we were supposed to leave that morning.)
Several friends brought us books, and the first one we put in as we drove was Butcher’s introductory mystery of The Dresden Files, an ongoing series about a wizard named Harry Dresden.
The first book came out in 2000, and proved so popular that Volume 15 of the Dresden Files is due out in May of this year.
The writing is a hoot. Think Philip Marlowe meets Charlaine Harris. “Magic noir” is what I called it as we began laughing out loud at some of the great one-liners, sardonic toss-off remarks, and zany plot twists of this book.
The wizard is tall, dark and handsome, an old-fashioned courtly gentleman, a powerful practitioner, and at the same time something of a screw-up. If the book is a bit predictable, sometimes facile, well, you don’t really mind ’cause it’s such rip-roaring fun.
The hero wears a long dark Australian cattle rancher coat. He has a nymphomaniac skull named Bob working for him. His cat doesn’t respect him. Think rescuing damsels in distress, in low-cut evening gowns, in vicious thunderstorms, but with vampires, demons, and drug dealers, oh my. It’s a send-up of every serialized adventure guy-hero genre, ever: part mystery, part swashbuckle.
Jack and I laughed out loud at several lines, but one of my personal favorites was, “I was so mad I could have chewed up nails and spit out paper clips.” It’s overblown high-jinks fun, Butcher’s stuff. And it makes the road much, much shorter. We actually had to turn it off coming through Chicago. I kept swerving from laughter.