Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
Published by Orbit and Out Now
I’m committed to The Dresden Files series and that presents a problem. I can no longer look at them in an unbiased way. I have feelings for Harry, Murphy and Bob. That means I’m going to forgive Jim Butcher a lot. But that also means that he has to work harder with each book to keep me coming back. If nothing moves and the series starts to repeat itself then the relationship is going to fizzle out.
Luckily, the fire is still burning for Harry, though it’s mostly in the form of hellfire. After the events of Dead Beat (that I reviewed in April) which involved a bunch of people trying to kill Harry and all the pressure was external Harry is back in detective mode.
At a Horror convention there is an attack in a men’s room The trouble is that the man being accused is the boyfriend of Michael’s daughter and rather than calling her family the daughter calls Harry for help. Harry though isn’t just their to bail them out but to help find who actually did it. The situation gets worse when some of the movie monsters at the convention come to life. And on top of that the Council give him a mission to find the truth in rumours of black magic and that can only lead to death.
Not only is Harry back in gumshoe mode but this time he’s back to being the hero saving the damsel in distress. And that is really where Harry shines. He needs to be saving someone apart from himself. His focus this time might be to stop any more killings but Butcher never misses an opportunity to complicate Harry’s life further and Harry discovers more issues the deeper he goes.
It’s hard not to spoil some of the surprises but we get to see a completely different side to Michael’s wife and Michael’s daughter. We get to see more of Summer and Winter and I have a feeling that Butcher is setting up some pretty fiery events in future books.
But this isn’t a set-up book. There is a real journey here. We get to see Harry confront personal fears, he builds stronger relationships with those around him by testing them to their limits in some cases.
I’m happy to see Butcher shifting focus and exploring some of the things that are closer to Harry. Even though it’s backed it does feel like a bit of a breather from the deadly events of Dead Beat and what sounds like is going to be a challenge of the next one, White Night, if the title is anything to by.
Butcher keeps Harry on his toes again as well as keeping the everything moving and revealing more details of the bigger picture that Harry is part of. He also manages to give a sense of other things to come. Which is clever because by the end we know that Harry is going to have at least one other majority important task that he won’t be able to fail, as well as knowing that Harry’s life is never easy.