Death Masks by Jim Butcher

Just finished reading Death Masks by Jim Butcher and at the risk of sounding repetitive this series just keeps getting better.  Harry Dresden is a private investigator working out of Chicago.  The ace up is sleeve is that he’s also a wizard.  He’s a wizard who seems to be storing up more and more bad feeling between him and a lot of nasty characters – such as vampires and demons.  Death Masks is No5 in the Dresden Files so beware of potential spoilers.

In the latest instalment Harry lands himself into all sorts of trouble.  As we all know the Red Court don’t like him very much.  Neither, for that matter, do his peers on the White Council!  (Well, there are a few exceptions – thankfully).  We start off with a new job, desperately needed by our wizard PI – the Shroud (of Turin no less) has been stolen.  Interest has been sparked and it’s recovery is essential to prevent a rather dreadful prophecy from being fulfilled.  On top of that we have a dead body – sans head and hands, some rather dastardly Denarians (more about that in a moment), the return of Susan, still struggling with her semi-vampiric nature and Michael and a couple of his co-workers, i.e. two other Knights of the Cross.

Firstly, the story.  Loads going on this time around that all comes together very well at the end.  There’s the theft of the Shroud, and the investigation to find the thieves and the intended buyer.  Something is going on with the Knights of the Cross who all seem to have descended – scenting trouble somehow.  And, Harry has been given a resolution to the impending conflict between the White and the Red – a challenge to the death with one of the Red Court Warriors – Ortega, with a promise that the war will be called off if Dresden accepts the challenge.

The characters.  We literally have the good, the bad and the ugly going on this time around.  These Denarians are some bad ass critters who I don’t want to meet, ever, thank you very much.  They’re incredibly powerful, very difficult to get rid of and can shapeshift into some pretty terrible nastiness.  We have a reappearance of Susan who has become a lot more clued in during her absence.  She can look after herself now and on top of that instead of being a bit ‘yippee here’s a life threatening situation lets have some fun’ she now seems to realise that the ‘life threatening’ bit is actually quite serious!  She has a man in tow and the sparks of jealousy coming off Harry could cause some serious damage.  We have two new Knights of the Cross – a Russian guy – who actually doesn’t believe in God – and Shiro who is like some sort of Japanese master – now, I don’t know why but I just kept picturing Master Shifu out of Kung Fu Panda – yes, I know, different countries and a whole other load of stuff that makes that wrong but the picture was there anyway.  And, is this crazy, but I liked the role that Marcone had this time round – could it be possible that I’m starting to like him??  Surely not, but he had a good bit of banter going on with Harry this time round and on top of this he jumped straight into the fray when needed, even if it was a little self-serving.

On top of all that Butcher continues with his world building and the world he is imagining is becoming a very easy place to imagine. The circle of friends and acquaintances who Harry mixes with is expanded upon each time with old characters sometimes taking a bit part or sitting out the story completely but resurfacing for a later instalment.

What else can I say.  I really enjoyed it and have no hesitation in recommending this series.

 

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16 Responses to “Death Masks by Jim Butcher”

  1. Carl V. Anderson

    No worries about being “repetitive” as that is pretty much the same thing I read from everyone who follows the Dresden series. They just keep getting better and better. I’m only up to book 3 at this point but will be reading it, and hopefully more, as the year wears on. I’m glad I finally got into this series a few years back as it was well past time.

    • lynnsbooks

      Strangely enough Carl, and even though I wasn’t involved, it was your readalong of the first book that got me interested in the Dresden Files. I think it was one of the first times I’d visited your site and you were doing a readalong, I didn’t read all the questions and answers because they might have had spoilers but I got the impression everyone was really enjoying the book and so made a note to pick it up.
      So, thanks for that. I’m really enjoying this now. I think looking back at the first couple I thought they were good but not in the same league as the series as moved along. The world building is really well done and even though each new book has a story of it’s own there is also the momentum of past stories that is brought into each successive novel and which is a really good story as well. Really impressed with Butcher, his wit and the way he manages to include so many little things that will appeal to different readers. It’s easy to see why he’s so popular.
      Lynn 😀

      • Carl V. Anderson

        You are more than welcome. It is the readalong that got me to read it as well. A close friend of mine suggested we do it and since Butcher lives here in our town it seemed very silly that we hadn’t read any of his books. Glad we finally took the plunge. He has gotten very far ahead of me at this point which is fine. I think Dresden is great and the world building, from what little I’ve seen, is very good. I have to take my urban fantasy in small chunks though. Not that I don’t enjoy it but I like other subgenres of SFF more.

      • lynnsbooks

        I must admit I do enjoy urban fantasy – it’s my filler in type of read where when I’ve just finished a good book I need something to pick me up. I just find it very easy to get on with.
        Lynn 😀

      • Carl V. Anderson

        Oh I do as well, I just have to take breaks between reads. I’m a little more choosey, I think, when it comes to UF and I think that is because I didn’t read much of it before it became the dominant subgenre on the SFF shelves and so trying to figure out what to read was overwhelming.

        I’m wanting to try the Patricia Briggs series soon. I bought the first book, Moon Called, the other day.

      • lynnsbooks

        It is a bit of a minefield out there! I’ve read the Patricia Briggs series (well, I’ve read the Mercy Thompson ones). Basically I picked up all three books on offer for £5! (I couldn’t really resist). But, I must admit I didn’t really think the first one was brilliant. Probably if I hadn’t bought all three I would have stopped reading but as I had the others I decided to carry on. It definitely has a little bit of ‘set up’ syndrome but once I got into it the next few books were really good. I guess it would be easy to describe Mercy as a bit of a stereotype but I like her. I wasn’t as keen on the latest book (River Marked) but I’ll still pick up the next and hope for a return to form. That’s the thing with series – dips in quality every now and again.
        Lynn 😀

  2. TBM

    So what you’re saying is I should pick up book 2 and just deal with the fact that 15 more books have been added to my TBR

    • Carl V. Anderson

      Why not? Book two was freakin’ intense!!!

      • TBM

        LOL…you and Lynn are killing my TBR pile! I’ll check the library the next time I’m there, which will be in a few days. Have to return 1984.

      • TBM

        Oh is Bob in book 2? Was that the name of the skull guy? He cracked me up.

      • Carl V. Anderson

        All I remember clearly is that about the mid-way point, or slightly before, the intensity started ratcheting up and I felt like I was holding my breath all the way through until the end.

      • lynnsbooks

        Bob seems to put in an appearance into all of the books (I think!). Even if it’s sometimes only a short spell.
        Lynn 😀
        P.S. – Definitely try your library – mine doesn’t have all the books but definitely has some.

      • TBM

        That’s a pretty good endorsement. wish I had a copy last week when I was in bed. But my head hurt so I watched all The Thin Man movies and some early Hitchcock flicks during my awake hours. Not a bad way to be sick. If you’re going to be sick might as well enjoy what you can.

  3. nrlymrtl

    I’m so glad you are loving this series. It’s one of my all-time favorites. I also like how Marcone starts to be something more than a simple crime boss and enemy. I am sure you will enjoy the future dynamic between Harry and Marcone.

    • lynnsbooks

      I thought Marcone was really good in this one. I love the way also that with each book there are leftovers that can make an appearance later. Clearly the denarians are still at large! Not to mention Ortega.
      BTW you won’t believe what I picked up in a used book store today – for £2.00 – the Masterharper of Pern book! Ha. I know that’s not the right order but I snapped it up.

      • nrlymrtl

        Excellent catch! My Atlas of Pern book came in the mail today, so I am happily perusing that. I can’t wait for Carl’s next read along.

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