Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only practicing professional wizard, should be happy that business is pretty good for a change. But he also knows that whenever things are going good, the only way left for them to go is bad. Way bad. Such as:
• A duel with the lethal champion of the Red Court, who must kill Harry to end the war between vampires and wizards…
• Professional hit men using Harry for target practice…
• The missing Shroud of Turin—and the possible involvement of Chicago’s most feared mob boss…
• A handless and headless corpse the Chicago police need identified…
Not to mention the return of Harry’s ex-girlfriend Susan, who’s still struggling with her semi-vampiric nature. And who seems to have a new man in her life. Some days, it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed. No matter how much you’re charging.
Michael leaned forward and said, “Harry, please. I know that your life has not been an easy one. You’re a good man. But you are as vulnerable as anyone. These enemies don’t want you dead.” He looked down at his hands. “They want you.”
A new Dresden Files book, a new bad guy. At this point it would be reasonable to assume that Jim Butcher is going to keep adding new big things to focus on every new book. First wizards, then werewolves, vampires, and then fae. Now it is the Order of the Blackened Denarius, an organization of fallen angels. Luckily, with this book we now have most of the major players of the series now available for future books. And of the five major groups, the Denarians may be my favourite.
Death Masks is a very fast paced book. As has become tradition in the series, there are multiple plot threads with multiple groups of people that all become connected in the end. Book starts with a priest asking Dresden, of all the people in the entire world, to look for the Shroud of Turin. This might just be the most unrealistic thing in the series to date. Susan is also back in town, to say goodbye and get her stuff. Oh, and a leader in the Red Court Vampires, Ortega, has come to Dresden with a proposal. Ortega and Dresden will duel. If Dresden wins, Chicago becomes neutral territory; if Ortega wins, the Red Court Vampires will be satisfied with his death and cease hostilities with the White Council.
And the other two Knights of the Cross are in town. And Murphy wants Dresden to look into a corpse that was found with every communicable disease ever. And Marcone’s hitmen are after Dresden. And other things.
Yeah, this was a busy book. I liked some things more than others. I love the Knights of the Cross and the Order of the Blackened Denarius. I… hate Susan. I’m glad she is leaving. Even though she seems to have finally grown as a person. Dresden also goes off and does stupid things. A lot. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. This book had a good ratio of does to doesn’t.
I will say that with so many plots going on at once, it sometimes felt like things weren’t getting the attention they either deserved or actually needed. A lot of really important things, such as the attempt on Dresden’s life at the very beginning of the book, is just forgotten about. Forgotten, that is, until all of a sudden it is answered in like a sentence as part of a grander reveal. And I can’t help but think “Yeah, shouldn’t you have looked into that, Dresden?”.
Overall, I really liked Death Masks, but it had a few things that made me pause. I like Nicodemus, who is the best bad guy in the series for being unrepentantly bad and, for a Dresden Files baddie, actually smart. Also I like the lore added in Death Masks.