October 07, 2011
Death Masks by Jim Butcher
Harry Dresden is a wizard. A real one, he's even got an ad in the yellow pages. Normally he just helps clients find missing items, stop small hauntings, that sort of thing. But not this time. This time Harry has been hired for a big case. The shroud of Turin has gone missing and someone in Chicago has it. And a group of grisly deaths are following in it's wake. If that wasn't enough, he has an oncoming duel with a vampire of the Red Court (a little mishap involving killing a couple of the Red Court nobles spurred it on) and his buddy Michael and a few of his friends (Members of the Knights of the Cross) are trying to keep Harry from being involved for his own safety. Then to make matters confusing, his old girlfriend Susan (who had been partially turned to a vampire) is back in town to settle a few things and then finally leave which will break Harry's heart. What's a wizard to do?
Once again Harry is not the all awesome character of the tv shows. He still has too much guilt (although he is called out on it this time), alternates between weak and strong with no apparent reason, and is way too gullible. As the hero of the story, these features can get annoying sometimes. While its great he has flaws, he just has way too many. As far as the Knights of the Cross go, I've never been a big fan of Michael, but I did like Shiro and Sanya, they weren't quite as in your face with the religion as Michael is. Shiro especially is one cool old guy. Susan was much changed in this novel and I think Butcher almost made her too powerful. While I realize she is somewhat a different creature now, she just seemed too good to be true.
Butcher is a very descriptive writer. This can sometimes be good in a world as complex as the one in the Dresden files, but when it comes to describing Dresden himself it is a little unbelievable. Since the story is written in first person from Dresden's point of view, the amount of time he spends describing himself is either unrealistic, or makes him a very conceited character. In addition, the vast majority of Butcher's characters are beyond attractive. It is rare to see just an average or even an ugly person described in these books. That's not to say it never happens, it just happens very rarely and often men are the targets instead of women.
The series is entertaining enough to read. I just wish at times it was more exciting. This one took quite a while to get started. It wasn't a bad book, but it just wasn't the best of his either. I'd give it 3 1/2 stars.