Tuesday 31 December 2013

#CBR5 Book 145. "Proven Guilty" by Jim Butcher

Page count: 479 pages
Audio book length: 16 hrs, 16 mins
Rating: 4 stars

Harry Dresden is now one of the wardens of the White Council of wizards, and he's about as thrilled about it as many of the wizards on the council are about him being recruited. Harry's asked to look into rumours of black magic in the Chicago area, and his mentor, Ebenezer McCoy, also requests that he enquire with his faerie contacts about why the Fey Courts are refusing to involve themselves in the conflict with the Red Court of vampires, even after the vampires broke into faerie territories in the Nevernever.

Harry still owes Mab, the Winter Queen, two favours, and his dealings with the Fey never really turn out in his favour. Lily, the new Summer Lady (youngest of the three Summer Queens) owes him a favour, but neither she nor Fix, the Summer Knight, can directly answer Harry's questions, or aid him, due to a compulsion laid on them by Titania, the Summer Queen, who's not exactly one of Dresden's biggest fans. Getting the answers McCoy wants isn't going to be easy.

The possible black magic use he's been asked to investigate seems connected with mysterious attacks at a horror movie convention. Molly Carpenter, the teenage daughter of Harry's friend Michael, comes to him for help. Her boyfriend is the chief suspect after a man was viciously attacked in a bathroom, but claims he's innocent. Shortly after Harry arrives at the convention to investigate, a number of people are attacked by a seven foot tall assailant who looks just like the killer in the slasher flick recently screened. An assailant who dissolves into ectoplasm when hit with a power burst from Harry's staff. It becomes clear that the ghostly entities can take physical and deadly form, and they feed on fear. Harry needs  how Molly Carpenter and her friends are connected with the case, who is summoning the monsters, and how he can stop them before more people die.

I'm a sucker for the wicked faeries, and Butcher's faeries are always ambiguous and difficult to trust, no matter what side they're purportedly on. Hence I like the books involving Fay machinations more than the ones about White Council business. Here the two sort of intertwine, but neither are the central issues in the book. It was very nice to meet the Carpenter family again, and as there's always a substantial period between each of the Dresden Files books, Molly has grown up quite a bit since the last time Harry and the readers met her. Just because she's older doesn't necessarily mean that she's all that wise, though, and she clearly has a lot of developing left to do.

Michael is away on a mission for much of the book, but his wife Charity, always so very critical of Harry, plays an important part instead. It becomes clear why she's so very suspicious of Dresden, and worried about his involvement with her family, and she really gets a chance to shine. The book also sees Thomas finally move out of Harry's apartment, having apparently found a job and lodgings elsewhere, although he's being very mysterious about the whole thing. I really like Thomas as a character, and hope that he'll not become relegated back to being a minor supporting character, just because Harry gets his apartment to himself again.

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