The Dresden Files: Dead Beat By Jim Butcher
So at the time that this is being written, the world kinda rotten at the moment. It’s the election. It’s a pandemic. And I'm out of work because my field of environmental science is practically nonexistent because of the pandemic. So I decided read something more upbeat. Something a little spooky and fun. I returned to The Dresden Files series because the series is such a great comfort food for the brain. This time around, the review is on the seventh book in the series Dead Beat by Jim Butcher.
So what is it about? In case this is the first time you heard about The Dresden Files, it about Harry Dresden, a wizard for hire who often times helps as a consultant for Chicago police’s more supernatural murders. In this book it really does begin with a master vampire requesting a meeting with him. Harry is immediately suspicious. The vampire, Mavra has been trying to kill him for a long time now, and in the previous novel he had royally kicked her butt to say the least. The vampire offers a truce, but on one condition. If he can find the word of Kemmler for her, she will leave him and his friends alone. And if he doesn’t, she will send some photos of his friend killing vampires to the police. Knowing Murphy would locked away for murder, he agrees. But her instructions are vague and she leaves him clueless about what the word of Kemmler is.
In his investigation, who soon learns that It is the manuscript of a long dead, yet infamously evil necromancer. And some dangerous people want it to do some very bad things on Halloween night. Dresden soon finds himself in the possession of one of Kemmler’s books alongside a scaredy cat coroner named Butters, while on the run from an necromancer name Grevene, a being called the Corpse Taker, and a couple rouge witches. And together Butters and Dresden find a way to save themselves and try to save Chicago
So the good and bad? Let’s start with the good. This is a lighthearted fun tale with monsters and really doesn’t hold back. I mean there’s a scene where the Corpse Taker is on one side of the street with all if its ghosts. Then the necromancer is on the other side with all his zombies. And Harry is trying to start his car and leave as quickly as possible as a lord of rings like war breaks out around him. It’s so fantastical and the action is nonstop here. Also with most of the cast absent in this story, Butter is a great addition to the roster. And also this book does progress the story in new direction. After moving on from Dresden tragic love story with Susan, the story now seems to be closing another thread. As the focus on the future novels will be on Harry’s relationship with his brother, the demon coin issue and crazy left turn in this book I did not see coming. So the book is trying hard to keep things fresh and exciting and is succeeding when most other series begin to die this many books in. Also there’s a scene where Harry has to ride an undead dinosaur through Chicago to travel through some magic storm. How can you not love that?
The bad? This story starts out on a kind of sour note. Dresden is told not to get anybody involved or else there will be no truce. So for a quarter of the book Dresden is working by himself and is unusually serious giving the book a strange tone. But when Butter shows up, things get better. Speaking of which, most of the lovable cast is not present. Thomas is around, but he’s very new. Also he’s moody at times and it feels like Butcher is still trying to figure out what to do with him. Toward the end he is fleshed out more and he and Dresden feel like genuine brothers, but in the first half he didn’t feel much like a character at all. As for the other characters, Greven and the Corpse Taker are very forgettable. In fact, there is demon who cameos in a dream sequence who more memorable than the main bad guys. Beyond the characters, I feel this book might be little daffy compared to other books even. Where the other books were fantasy and grounded, somehow this jumps the shark at points making it feel more like a Saturday morning cartoon. Which is shocking, because the moment a zombie shows up, it looked like it was going into the dark horror (Possibly Anita Black Laughing Corpse territory) but then turns around and goes the complete opposite direction. Also along with the fantasy element, this book and the last book is reinforcing the idea multiple times that Harry is not really human, and is a very powerful wizard who’s going to outlive his friends, which I feel could break his connection with the reader a little bit. When this series began, he was portrayed as an every man who happens to have magic. But that every man component is beginning to fade as these books goes on. Also one last thing. The book is implying that Harry and Murphy may have a relationship in future titles and I’m not a fan. I can’t see it working at all and I’ll leave it at that.
Overall, this is another really fun entry in the series and was what I needed right now. But it’s not the best in the series simply because it does jump the shark into Scooby doo territory here and there. But I’ll tell you what? If you are okay with Harry Dresden riding a reanimated dinosaur down Chicago streets, then you’ll like it. If that sounds awful to you, you might be disappointed in the book, and should only read it if you’re a diehard fan of the series. So it’s not the best book. Its maybe possibly worst in the series so far But because this series has such a high bar, that’s not saying much. If it sounds like your thing, give it a read. It’s nice mildly spooky run.
Overall Rating: Harry’s Seventh Outing is Loony One
3 Smoothies out of Five