Harry Dresden, Chicago-land wizard and Warden of the White Council, was forced to make a deal with the devil (a.k.a. Queen Mab, of the Winter Sidhe,) in a previous book, Summer Knight, and now she’s come to collect her due.
The Small Favor she wants is not exactly small, though. Johnny Marcone, the head mobster of Chicago, and a new signatory of the Unseelie Accords, a sort of Geneva Convention between magical races, has been kidnapped by a group of Fallen Angels who possess humans by means of a silver coin and turn them into monsters. Harry has dealt with the Denarians before and barely survived. Now a whole gang of them is back, and the lives of everyone Harry knows is at stake.
Small Favor is not quite a typical example of The Dresden Files to date. Harry is not hired by a client to solve a mystery that relates to a supernatural event, unless of course you count his working for Queen Mab to find a kidnapped mobster, and then a little girl who possesses the collective knowledge of the human race is kidnapped as well. Instead, the story is much broader and farther reaching, while expanding Butcher’s universe and continuing the development of his cast of characters.
The battles just keep getting bigger as more dangerous foes and friends come to play, and this time it’s Fallen Angels against the Knights of God, the Wizards of the White Council, Sgt. Murphy of Chicago PD, and elements of Marcone’s criminal empire. With so much at risk, Harry could use some straight answers, but all he gets is more questions, like why Mab cares about the fate of a mortal mobster in the first place?
While the present tension and action is quite enough of a story for one book, there are hints that there is much more below the surface than the author is revealing in this novel. Towards the end of the story, Harry is introduced to an actual Archangel, though he is unaware of this at the time, who says that he is impressed with Harry’s work. Is this foreshadowing for the rest of the series? Will there be other angels or even higher powers mentioned in future stories?
Jim Butcher has woven another involving tale that leaves the reader hungry for more. The action scenes take up a good portion of this book, but they are well-paced, and there is plenty of room left for the “hocus pocus,” witty banter, moral dilemmas, and romantic angst that are such a part of the series. I have to give this one five stars, and set my sights on the next book in the series.