Cold Days by Jim Butcher
As the 14th novel in the Dresden Files, Cold Days is the continuation of the story of Harry Dresden-a private investigator and Wizard for Hire in modern day Chicago. Many of the characters in this series have been in a state of transition which culminates in Cold Days. After starting out as thorn in the side of all the supernatural entities fighting for control of Chicago, and working to thwart their efforts at every turn, Dresden now finds himself bound in service to Mab, the Queen of the Winter Court of Faeries. In return for help rescuing his daughter from a Vampire menace, Harry Dresden has accepted the mantle of Winter Knight, essentially making him a super powered hit man for Queen Mab. He is concerned that the new powers and responsibilities he has, combined with the seductive and corrupting influence of the Winter Court will slowly turn him into a monster.
Karrin Murphy, Harry’s friend and former Chicago cop is now waging battle against the supernatural forces in Chicago who have attacked the city with renewed vigor during Harry’s protracted absence. She has been forced into an uneasy alliance with crime boss John Marcone because she needs his resources to continue her battle against the evil that would prey on her beloved city.
Harry’s former apprentice Molly Carpenter has battled through bouts of mental instability and has now, with the help of Harry’s Faerie Godmother Leanansidhe, become a formidable magical power.
The first task Harry is given as the new Winter Knight thrusts him into the middle of a power struggle between the Summer and Winter Faerie Courts that could result in the destruction of not just Chicago, but the entire US Midwest. Par for the course in the Dresden Files, Harry finds himself outnumbered and outgunned, but by sheer force of will and ingenuity, manages to narrowly escape death time and again.
Author Jim Butcher has created a series with humor, action and real emotional stakes for the characters. I also appreciate the fact that the lives of these characters are never tidy and very rarely work out for the best. Dresdenknows that eventually the risks he takes are going to catch up to him and that he can’t outrun his fate forever, but he stares that danger in the face and laughs at it. Harry knows that when his time finally comes that he will not go quietly into that dark night.
Cold Days is the most loaded and ambitious entry in the Dresden Files to date, and has positioned itself very well for future books in this series. I was gripped very tightly by the conclusion of this book and now I am frustrated by what will seem like an interminable wait until Jim Butcher puts out the next novel. These characters only get more and more interesting and layered as the series goes on and the stories are told with a unique style and furious pace. Cold Days is a very good book in a great series.