Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.
Werewolves! Chicago has enough problems without werewolves and PI wizard Harry Dresden has enough problems without the FBI being involved. Harry put some serious strain on his friendship with Lt. Karin Murphy in Book 1 (Storm Front) and he’s been suffering because of it, and not just because a solid chunk of his monthly income comes from Murphy’s Special Investigations unit at Chicago PD where Harry used to do a fair amount of consultant work. Reluctantly, Karin Murphy asks for his professional opinion on a death and Harry isn’t too pleased at what he finds.
This is my second time reading this book, but I last read it years ago and had forgotten many of the details. Right up front we know the story is dealing with werewolves, but as Bob the skull points out, there are several types of werewolves. Harry has to figure out what type he’s dealing with before he can work out how to stop the killings. Also, there’s this tricky thing called motivation that he also has to figure out. But in this fast-paced urban fantasy, there is no time for Harry to simply sit and contemplate.
The end of the previous book left with things strained between Karin and Harry. They each have trust issues and hence they have trust issues within their friendship and working relationship. Luckily, they do have a few brief moments where they can clear the air. However, there’s still a big, big mistake in trust that costs the police force dearly. At the end of the book, there is this intense scene that does an excellent job of illustrating how far, or not, their mutual trust has come.
Susan Rodriguez, a reporter for The Arcane, is also a part of this tale. She, of course, wants to get some footage of some real werewolves but she’s not really listening to Harry when he tells her how dangerous they are. I’m still luke warm on Susan’s character. She can be fun and even a bit sassy, and she definitely has chemistry with Harry, but she also strikes me as a but of an idiot at times. Put on some body armor and get some weapons training if you’re going to go werewolf hunting, even if it’s just with a camera! With that said, I do become a fan of Susan later in the series.
Then there is Tara West. She’s the fiance of this multi-millionaire/environmental activist who is missing. Tara has some of the best lines for the entire book. She’s not like anyone Harry has dealt with before and it takes him a long time to figure her out. The first time I read this book, I didn’t get Tara either until the very end.
Since we are dealing with werewolves, there’s a fair amount of nudity as they shapeshift. However, it is practical nudity. So, don’t let the naked body count for this book turn you off. Not that it would turn me off anyway.
The FBI crew was a pain in the arse in more ways than one. Of course, they start off as a hindrance and it takes Harry some time to figure out how to either get them out of the way or get them on his side. Crime lord John Marcone also returns to cause Harry some grief. However, the man does have some interesting knife skills that a person has to respect. Yep, I do believe I enjoyed this book just a smidge more than Book 1.
The Narration: James Marsters continues to make an excellent Harry Dresden. He does a really great job of getting Harry’s emotions (an his occasional nausea) across to the listeners. His gravelly, tense voices (both male and female) for the werewolves were great. I love Bob’s proper accent and Gentleman John Marcone’s stiff replies to Harry’s snark.