Seventh installment—but first hardcover—in the Harry Dresden series: a mix of the supernatural and bounding adventure.
Chicago’s wizard-detective lives in a nonelectric basement apartment kept clean by faeries. Harry’s roommate is his super-handsome half-brother Thomas, a vampire who specializes in feeding on beautiful women but not turning them. Both Harry and Thomas live under the aegis of the White Court, of which Harry’s a high member. Black Court vampire Mavra, beheaded by Harry in a previous outing, returns here to blackmail him. She’s threatening Harry’s secret heartthrob, Karrin Murphy, director of the Chicago PD’s Special Investigations unit, which tracks down supernatural criminals. Mavra has photos of Karrin shotgunning a bad guy; he deserved it, but it’s still a felony, and she could get life—or worse, if Mavra decides to make nasty use of the lock of Karrin’s golden hair she’s acquired. To prevent that, she tells Harry over his empty but waiting grave in Graceland Cemetery that he’ll have to find and hand over The Word of Kemmler, a spell that apparently will give Mavra top powers. In Harry’s wizard lab in his cold sub-basement, a talking skull named Bob warns that Kemmler is a ferociously evil necromancer who spent more than a hundred years starting WWI and has been twice killed by the White Court. The Word of Kemmler is his fourth and possibly worst book of necromancy; it frightens even Bob. And now it’s Halloween, when the barrier between this and the spirit world is weakest. Adventures blossom like shotgun fire as Harry and medical examiner Waldo Butters are attacked in the morgue by a walking dead cop with his throat slit, flanked by zombies, and Harry faces all manner of cold, palely glowing folk walking about Chicago as a Tyrannosaurus tosses the undead over five-story buildings in a “carnivorous earthquake.”
A fun-loaded series.