Somewhere in Chicago, there’s a wizard who freelances as a private detective and goes toe-to-toe with the worst the world has to offer, for the sake of truth, justice, and the American way.
Corny as it may sound, that’s the basic premise behind Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files,” an ongoing series that’s 13 books in and going strong.
Released July 26, the latest book “Ghost Story” is one of the best yet.
The story pushes the main character Harry Dresden to grow and mature while dealing with the death of someone close to him. Well actually, it’s his death.
Of course, being a wizard, death doesn’t stick quite as strongly and he gets sent back to solve his own murder.
While the premise is so cliché that Harry himself points out how cliché it is, the novel actually delivers a strong story, showcasing how the various supporting characters are dealing with the supernatural chaos that has taken over Chicago after the loss of its protector.
Despite the story’s serious tone, Butcher’s sense of humor sneaks in all over the place, lighting even the darkest moments with gallows humor.
And as always, the pop culture references are so thick you could cut them with a butter knife.
One of the most startling elements of this story is that, as a ghost, Harry is almost completely unable to use magic.
Seeing not only how Harry reacts to being helpless, but also how his allies have learned to work around the absence of their mystical heavyweight, drives the characters in new directions.
And it gives long-time readers some food for thought about where the series might be headed.
Finally, the ending doesn’t just twist — it tangoes, leaving readers pleasantly shocked and begging for the next one.
Due to Butcher’s habit of dropping explanations for everything into every book, “Ghost Story” can be read as a stand-alone novel. But unlike the rest of the series, to fully appreciate this one, readers should really check out the previous book, “Changes.”