From the bookshelf with Jared Conti

By Jared Conti in Arts & Entertainment

October 6, 2011

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Photo courtesy of Google Images

I got a little carried away and I suppose I should’ve waited to review the King books for the impending holiday, but this week starts my look into ghosts and goblins and all sorts of other bad guys. Not strictly Halloween related, but there’s still an element of spook in all these upcoming reviews. Just you wait until you see what I write about two weeks from now! Remember, folks: The bigger the beard, the better the rating!

The Dresden Files #13:
Ghost Story
Jim Butcher

If you’re a fan of the supernatural and you aren’t reading these books, I petition again for you to jump on the bandwagon. I know, I know, this has got to be my third or fourth column about Jim Butcher’s wizard private investigator series, “The Dresden Files.”

Hear me out, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A wizard walks into a bar…no, waitaminute…he sort of…floats in. That’s because he’s a ghost.

This is my first time saying this (and I’m proud to) but there’re spoilers ahead.

Some moments after protagonist Harry Dresden’s apparent demise in the last book, “Changes,” we find him facing the light at the end of the tunnel in this (shiver) 13th book.

Literally. Things don’t actually start in a bar, but they do begin with the speed of a freight train. Though, Butcher normally excels at irreverent cultural references, there were too many parallel inferences to The Matrix in the first couple of pages.

Still, the pace is moved along rather quickly and Harry is sidled with the task of finding his killer before the ones he loves are hurt. Sounds simple enough, right?

Other than the fact that Harry’s a ghost. No magic and the poor guy can’t even talk to people regular- like.

He enlists the aid of his buddy Mort, a sensitive to ghosts, by fending off an attacking army of wraiths who’re at the command of some new (or old?) villain.

How Butcher comes up with these new and interesting takes on the paranormal is beyond me: every new installment, there’s some new and wicked way of drawing out the best in these characters.

And speaking of drawing out the best in characters, there’s plenty of that, too.

It’s been months that Harry’s been dead, and the power vacuum left wide open by the destruction of the entire Red Court puts our beloved friends through their paces. Murphy, Molly and Butters (plus a slew of others) have changed, so much so that the title of the last book is quite apropos. Harry’s absence has left them to fend for themselves in an increasingly dangerous Chicago.

Like all the other books in the series, this book was entirely too short to wait another year for the next one. The cold and calculating way Butcher brings the novel to fruition continues to amaze me, as well as his ability to weave in little snippets of clue for future books.

Facial Hair Rating: Lengthy and luxurious wizardly beard.

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