Harry Dresden is back investigating a series of brutal and vicious murders, people torn apart by what looks like wild animals – wolves in fact. There being a somewhat lack of wolves in Chicago, this points us in one direction. Actually it points us in several directions as it turns out there are several variations on the theme of werewolf – and several denizens of the city who may count.
Harry has to sort through the threads, work with the local police hindered by their distrust and the looming presence of both the FBI and an Internal Affairs inquiry and try to avoid working for a notorious mob boss with whom he has been closely linked because of his past activities. Worse for him, his investigations have aroused the anger of those he has investigated – both guilty and innocent – and he faces several more attempts on his life to dance around while still trying to find the truth.
Like Storm Front, I think this book struck a great balance. It has several possible suspects, several different supernatural creatures, any of which could have been the murderers creates a genuine mystery - without being convoluted or confusing. In even a conventional murder mystery that's a difficult balance to strike
I also liked the world building – the bringing together of a variety of werewolf myths from around the world as varying and difficult antagonists and possible suspects in the book - each of which could be the murderer and many of them actively hunting or needing Harry for various reasons. We also see Harry's power continue to be develop and displayed for us – an excellent bit of world building that requires gentle showing rather than bludgeoning telling. And we're reminded that, yes, harry is a severely powerful and extremely dangerous being – while at the same time being very flawed and very human.
In many ways I'm in 2 minds about this review. Not because I didn't like the book – but because I feel I have so little to say that contrasts with what I said about Storm Front. It's another nuanced and well balanced mystery. It has a strong and informed world. The characterisation of Harry seems very real, while at the same time the books are so centred on him that the side-characters feel rather under-done. This is particularly problematic when we consider that these characters are women.