At the end of the last book, Changes, in The Dresden Files series, Harry Dresden was shot and then fell into Lake Michigan; so he’s dead now, right? Except his idea of the afterlife never included being shown into a police station in the world” in-between” and meeting Karrin Murphy’s late father, a former Chicago cop.
Jack Murphy delivers some surprising news: Harry’s stuck in between life and death because some unnamed semi-divine being interfered with his death, three of his friends are in mortal danger if he doesn’t find a way to help them, and he needs to identify his killer if he wants to be able to move on. And oh, magic doesn’t work the same way here, so it looks like wizard/private investigator Harry Dresden is going to have to solve this case without his powers, without his body, and without being able to communicate with almost everyone he knows.
Fortunately, Harry knows or rather knew, an ectomancer, a person with latent magical ability who can see and talk with ghosts. Unfortunately, Mortimer Lindquist has a negative impression of Harry because of the danger the late wizard brought into his life while he was still alive. Persuading Mort to help is hard. What is even harder is convincing his friends that Harry is actually his own spirit and not a supernatural shapeshifter wearing his face (it’s happened before in this universe.)
Just when Harry has most of them believing, Mort is kidnapped by the evil spirit of a sorceress Harry defeated years before and who wants to use Mort as a stepping stone to acquire a new body for herself. Harry will not all of his friends and allies, living and dead, to prevent the sorceress from escaping death to rein havoc on the world.
It is interesting to note how author Jim Butcher writes Harry’s change in perspective. Now that he’s dead, he has time to reflect on his life; his choices, his achievements, and his failures. They say hindsight is twenty-twenty, but what can Harry do about his past now that he’s dead? Or is he really? The other spirits say that Harry is different, he’s dead but not, but exactly what is going on there is a secret the author keeps until the very last chapter, which ingeniously draws other past characters and situations from the larger universe in to set the course for the rest of the series, or at least the next book.
This thirteenth book in the series by author Jim Butcher is full of surprises. While there is plenty of action, much of the story revolves around solving the mystery at the end of the last book as well as dealing with the consequences of Harry’s absence from being Chicago’s protector from supernatural incursions. This is one book where I feel the reader will really miss a lot of key points if this is there first venture into this universe. Still, the story is solid and keeps the reader in suspense and guessing outcomes until the very end, so I give it 4.5 stars and would recommend it, and the series to readers of paranormal and urban fantasy books.