Storm Front (Dresden Files #1) (*****)
by Jim Butcher
Storm Front is a sort of who-dun-it, private-eye novel...except Harry Dresden is a wizard and the cases he's drawn into are of an other-worldly nature. In this book, the first novel in a long-running series, Harry finds himself dealing with two cases. The first comes from his private detective business - a woman hires Harry to find her missing husband. She doesn't think the cops can help her, and the husband had some interest in magic. At the same time, Harry was called in by the cops to consult on a police case - two bodies have been found with their hearts ripped out of their chests and no sign of how that was accomplished. Harry takes both cases and finds himself in more danger than he ever could have imagined.
Harry, rather than being all rough-and-tumble, drunk grump, and/or gritty tough guy, is actually emotionally accessible. As he finds himself up against the cops, a Chicago crime lord, an insane and powerful magician, and members of the White Council (a sort of magical police force and governing council), Harry is alternately righteously angry, scared out of his wits, exhausted, and determined. The story is a mix of mystery, humor, and excitement. Storm Front is a page turner and an exciting read, and I plan to check out the rest of the series.