Returning to my read-through of The Dresden Files before the next book gets published…
The Dresden Files aren’t horror stories, despite the trappings of vampires, zombies and the odd occasional evil spirit. They’re very firmly rooted in the Urban Fantasy tradition, drawing a lot from the hard-boiled detective stories, although with a level of world-building that most writers can only envy. However, Dead Beat, the seventh novel, goes as far towards the horror genre as the series gets. Zombie apocalypses are a bit like that.
Harry spends most of the book without his usual support crew: he’s avoiding Michael and Murphy is on holiday. Instead, he has to spend a lot of time with the polka-loving medical examiner, Waldo Butters, with a little help from Thomas. The pairing works really well, as Butters is as far from the competent side-kick that Harry normally has as you can imagine. His struggles with the revelations that Harry’s world bring to him are fascinating to read – as well as his struggles with his natural cowardice.
This book shows how well Butcher can write really big action scenes. The climax of the book contains several awe-inspiring moments, and it’s great to see Harry working on such a big scale. There will be bigger moments in Harry’s career, but this stands out as a big one.
However, it’s the character moments that make it great. Butcher does a really good job of misdirection in this book – which, upon rereading, I discovered he’d provided clues for the big reveal later on. It’s that sort of craftsmanship that elevates The Dresden Files over other series.