Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Fool Moon - Jim Butcher

   2001; 342 pages. Book Two (out of 14; soon to be 15) of the “Dresden Files” series.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Urban Fantasy; Murder-Mystery.  Overall Rating : 8½*/10.

    Something has crashed through a window, assaulted an armed thug, ripped out his entrails, tore his face off, and given him nasty, claw-marked contusions all over what remained of his body.  Needless to say, the armed thug is not in a position to say anything about it.

    The curious thing is that the assailant also left some huge dog-like paw prints in the blood and gore.  And I suppose the police could start looking for a poodle on steroids, except there is also a full moon tonight.

    I wonder if that has anything to do with things.

What’s To Like...
     You’ll likely find Fool Moon in the Horror or Science Fiction section of your library/bookstore, but really, at its core, it’s a Murder-Mystery.  Jim Butcher mixes all sorts of paranormal critters and events into his stories, but Harry is still being called in to tell the Chicago PD what sort of unnatural beast killed some unfortunate victim.

    Here, rather obviously, la bête du jour is the werewolf.  But Butcher creates a whole genus of werewolves – Hexenwolves, Werewolves, Lycanthropes, and the baddest-of-the-bad, the Loup-Garou.  What a great set of lupine theriomorphs to read about, with each one requiring a different way to combat it.

    The story is well-written, with wit aplenty.  There are lots of plot twists, and they didn’t feel forced or arbitrary.  And just when things are winding down, Butcher throws one last unexpected-and-exquisite twist in the Epilogue regarding Tera.  I love those extra little nuances in a story.

    Dresden’s resident spirit, Bob, is back; that’s always a plus.  So is his cat “Mister”, as well as his police-buddy, the tough-as-nails Karrin Murphy.  There’s lots of action, the pacing is brisk, and everything builds nicely to an exciting ending.  Some good guys get killed; some beasties get away.  Harry isn’t always right, and he doesn’t win every fight he gets into. I like that.

Kewlest New Word. . .
Mince (v.)  :  To walk with an affected delicacy or fastidiousness, typically with short, quick steps.

    “I want you to learn more,” I told him.  “Go out and see what else you can round up on werewolves.”
    Bob snorted “Fat chance, Harry.  I’m a spirit of intellect, not an errand boy.”  But when I said the word “out,” Bob’s eyes glittered.
    “I’ll pick you up some new romance novels, Bob,” I offered.
    Bob’s teeth clicked a couple of times.  “Give me a twenty-four-hour pass,” he said.
    I shook my head.  “Forget it.  The last time I let you out, you invaded a party over at Loyola and set off an orgy.”
    Bob sniffed.  “I didn’t do anything to anyone that a keg wouldn’t have done.”  (pg. 64)

    “Very well, wizard,” Tera said.  “I will show you the nearest camera and help you over the wall.  Do not move from where you land.  We do not know who is on the other side of the wall, or where.”
    “Don’t worry about me,” I said.  “Worry about yourself.  If there’s a good way through the wall, Denton might show up there, too, to go in.  Or MacFinn might.”
    “MacFinn,” Tera said, traces of pride in her voice and fear in her eyes, “will not even notice that the wall got in his way.”  (pg. 279)

 “Don’t mess with a wizard when he’s wizarding!”  (pg.  184)
    There’s a slew of werewolf stories out there.  What impressed me with Fool Moon is how Jim Butcher steers away from the stereotyped werewolf character, and the banal “please help me, I’m a monster” plotline.  To boot, there is usually just one werewolf in a story in this genre, and it’s often pretty obvious who the human/lupine is.  Here, Chicago seems to be infested with the beasts, so Dresden’s task isn’t so much finding one, as it is sorting through a slew of them and trying to find out which ones did the killing, and why.

    Fool Moon was my third book in the series.  I’ve read #1, #6, and #2, in that order.  They are all standalone stories, but I can definitely see where it is a richer experience to read them in order.
    8½ Stars.  There’s nothing “epic” about The Dresden Files series, but I think Jim Butcher fully succeeds at writing both a good Murder-Mystery and a Tale of the Paranormal.  I was entertained the whole way through.

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