Saturday, November 8, 2014

"Death Masks (Dresden Files #5)" by Jim Butcher

This review features a book that is the fourth in the Dresden Files series, and may have minor spoilers for those who have not read Storm FrontFool MoonGrave Peril, and Summer Knight. My critique of Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) can be found here.

This book was a bit of a surprise for me- I thought if anything would change my mind about Harry Dresden, it'd be the presence of faeries. I think what changed with this book was the overall level of maturity and grimness setting in, much like with The Broken Eye. Although the previous book had some level of it at the end, it didn't feel like Harry was a grown-ass man. With this book, I felt that he was.
You tell 'em, Dresden.

The Plot:
Harry isn't scraping by as much anymore- and no damsels in distress have begged for his services. Instead, the Shroud of Turin has been stolen and he's been hired to find it by Father Vincent, who wants a discreet investigation. Meanwhile Murphy turns up with a disease and plague-ridden corpse that has been cut up to prevent identification. But with the Red Court breathing down his neck and Susan mysteriously appearing at his apartment, will he solve the mysteries in time?

It's kind of a different book due to the absence of Murphy- instead, Harry pairs up with Michael and his buddies for most of the book. Sure, there's a few scenes at the beginning and the end with Murphy, but Susan stole the heroine-in-focus spot for this book. I've never been that attached to Murphy- she's always seemed a little severe and goodie-two-shoes for me, and Susan provided a nice change of pace. With her recent changes, Susan is more an asset than a bystander that needs to be protected in this book, making her a standout in the long line of damsels-in-distress I've been seeing in this series.

Harry and Susan's relationship is further developed in Death Masks than all of the books prior to it. This says a lot, as they've basically been together since the first book, but I never found myself thinking they were actually serious about each other. There are some changes coming for them that I can barely allude to without spoiling, but I felt the change was good, and Harry had (finally) grown up.

Death Masks proves that you can't judge a series on its first four books. I thought by the time I'd finished my last Daily Deal Dresden File book (number seven), I'd feel comfortable giving up on the series, but now I may read on. I've been strangely compelled to read these, even when none of the previous ones have been four stars for me, and I'm finally beginning to see why. Harry Dresden may have been an adult before, but he's never been this mature as a character.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for a series that's growing on me.

Content: Ages 18+ for violence, sundry uses of Hell's Bells, and sexual content.

Page Count: 451 pages in the paperback edition.

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