Death Masks (Dresden Files #5)

by Jim Butcher

It’s much more comfortable to rest secure in the knowledge that no one can reach out with magic and quietly kill you, that vampires exist only in movies, and that demons are mere psychological dysfunctions. Completely inaccurate but much more comfortable.

The Shroud of Turin has been stolen and Harry Dresden’s called in on the case. Our favorite urban wizard quickly manages to stumble into a situation where a duel is forced between him and an elder of the Red Court—a death duel between a powerful, mortal wizard and an ancient, nearly indestructible vampire.

No one knows why the Shroud was taken, but members of the Courts are in a frenzy trying to get it back, as is the human world, and Harry’s got to solve the mystery and save as many lives as he can before his is claimed by Nicodemus in the duel.

Supernatural forces, a wise-cracking wizard, sex, monsters, heavy violence, swords, puns, and a level of action that’ll keep you ripping through the pages. It sounds a bit like candy for the mind, perhaps approaching that hated term, ‘summer read’. But something happens here that disqualifies it from the category.

Dresden’s mouth isn’t the 80’s equivalent of the action hero, spouting lines covered in cheese. He is (spouting them), but it’s just not the heroic bravado from Hollywood. It’s his defense mechanism. Harry may communicate with one-liners and pop fiction references, but his world is filled with so much horror it’s the only way to keep from going insane—the whole “I laugh to keep from crying” posture.

It works so well, the marriage of horror and humor centered around a powerful yet hapless wizard, the sum total becomes more than either—Jim Butcher successfully manages to blend them with his own brand of alchemy.

Let he who hath never worn parachute pants cast the first stone.

4- (4) stars

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