Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
Book 13 of (so far) 14 in “The Dresden Files” finds Harry Dresden—detective, wizard, guardian of all things Chicago—tasked with solving his own murder. It’s not easy, being dead. When you’re only a shade of your former self—an intangible, invisible, inaudible presence made up of memories, thoughts, and a pinch of will—there isn’t much you can do. Even with loads of raw magical power, you’re limited to spells that affect denizens of the spiritual world. Unless… well, there are a couple of exceptions. Having friends who can see (or at least hear) dead people, for example. Friends like “ectomancer” Mortimer Lundquist, who doesn’t even need a magically doctored walkie-talkie to converse with ghosts, and who is the first person who seems even remotely capable of helping Harry. But Morty hasn’t done much helping when he is abducted by a super-ghost, backed up by an army of clairvoyant thugs, bent ghosts, and soul-eating wraiths. And now Harry has a new problem: Without Morty to control the city’s most violent ghosts, Chicago could become a really dangerous place.
Not that it hasn’t already become more dangerous in the six months(!) since Harry caught a sniper’s bullet. In Harry’s previous case, he single-handedly wiped out the entire Red Court of vampires. While this might sound like a good idea, other evil things were just waiting to rush into the power vacuum. Things such as the Fomor: an alliance of baddies from the Nevernever whose moves are backed up, in our world, by an army of turtleneck-wearing commandos with a fanatical but deadly lack of an instinct for self-preservation. Then there’s the street gang led by a sorcerer who uses mind-control magic to force his teenaged minions to do his criminal bidding. And don’t forget Superghost, whose plans for Morty are connected to yet another way a mere shade can reach out and touch the physical world: by being crazy enough, and powerful enough, to manifest in the flesh. What can a wizard whose spells pass straight through solid objects, and whom only a handful of his friends can see or hear, do about it?
About his friends: Harry understands the stakes of solving his own murder. He has it on good authority that unless he closes the case, at least three of his nearest and dearest will come to a horrible end. Could it be Karrin Murphy, whose career as a cop is over, and who now pursues paranormal baddies in an unofficial, vigilante capacity? Or Waldo Butters, the mild-mannered medical examiner who inherited Dresden’s talking skull named Bob? Or maybe Harry’s former apprentice Molly, who has transformed herself into a feared figure of underworld justice known as the Rag Lady? Molly, whose sensitive mind may not be what it used to since she witnessed the demise of the Red Court, has been under the dubious tutelage of Harry’s fairy godmother—a creature who is not nearly as sweet and dainty as she sounds. Other former allies of the late wizard detective are doing what they can to fight the evil that has been raining down on Chicago since Dresden disappeared.
But their help may not be enough. Harry may need to enlist the aid of his own “army of darkness” if he’s going to stop some serious badness from coming down. And even when his mission is complete, after a friendly archangel explains what the case was really about, after Harry makes the unsettling discovery of his murderer’s identity and he is sent to his final rest… what comes next, even then, may not be what you expect. But expect this: a fourteenth book, titled Cold Days.