Fool Moon is the second in the Dresden Files series of books. It’s fair to say that I’ve seen enough I liked in book 1 to stay with this franchise for a while. There are now I think 14 books and I’ve heard they get a bit repetitive later on but we’ll see how far I get.
With the title it’s perhaps not surprising that this book concerns werewolves. A gruesome series of murders occur on and around the full moon and Harry Dresden is called on for his supernatural advice. Actually at the beginning of the book he knows almost nothing but we learn as he does. There are apparently five different types of creature that could go under the category of werewolf and in this book we meet most of them. The plot concerns which of the various types (if any) committed which of the various murders (are they all from the same perpetrator?) and of course why?
There’s also more in this book about Dresden’s on-going story. We find out a bit more about his past, we see him move on in one relationship whilst apparently getting a bit stuck in another. Also, even though this is only book 2, patterns are developing. Once again Harry gets beaten up a lot. So much so that we have at one point need of a supernatural explanation of how he can keep going at all – properly set up so it’s not pulled out of thin air. Once again Harry has to go it alone and despite his status as sometime consultant to the cops is suspected of the crimes he’s investigating. So some of this already feels like it’s giving us more of the same. However there are signs that this will change in future books. A character that I’d assumed was going to be one of the mainstays of the series got killed off. Also he makes a decision to be more open with his police friend Murphy – which is good because the whole “I can’t tell you what’s going on because of the Mystical-Law-Reason” might be plausible enough but it leads to a fake-feeling kind of dramatic tension – a bit like when a sitcom’s plot is based around a misunderstanding that would be resolved in two minutes if only characters would TALK TO EACH OTHER.
Oh and it also had a dream sequence. I’m not a fan of dream sequences. They’re generally an excuse to be self-indulgent with imagery or deliver up a character’s motivations without having to dramatize them. But there are worse examples of that than the one in this book.
Another pattern-y[*] aspect is that these books are looking very much like detective/police procedurals with fantasy/supernatural set dressing. The bad guys are likely supernatural beasties and in place of CSI tech we have spells and summonings but structurally they work the same way. The question is whether you enjoy the scenery. I think I do (I like the PC Grant books and the same could be said of them) but I also think it’s because Butcher executes that structure as competently as he does that they work. I suspect he could right ‘straight’ crime novels which were just as compelling.
He does write the action sequences well. There’s a scene in a police station which is gripping, frightening and exciting. He manages to make me interesting in a trope – werewolves – that I’m not generally drawn to.
So I did enjoy this. It was “pattern-y” at times but I still enjoy Dresden as a character and there appears to be development there too – both in terms of exploring his back-story and the way his personal ‘arc’ is unfolding.
8/10 – a police procedural with plenty of supernatural splatter.
[*] i.e. formulaic, but I didn’t want to use that word as it carries more of a pejorative overtone than I intend.
P.S. given the title can’t get this completely unrelated song out of my head.