After reading the first fourteen books in the Dresden Files series there seemed little doubt that I was going to love Skin Game by Jim Butcher. The only real question was whether I was going to like it more or less than other books in the series.
For those who don’t know the Dresden Files is a series of books that follows Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the Chicago phone book. It is generally described as a noir story with Harry as the detective, a job that fits a wizard well since the job of a wizard, beyond the magical energies he carries around is wisdom and information.
Over the course of the series that has changed in some ways. The first books are clearly noir detective stories in which Harry solves murders and mysteries, but as the story has advanced it has become more than that and while Harry’s personality hasn’t really changed his situations has. He has far more responsibilities than simply cases now and with every book it becomes clearer that there is more going on than we know.
One of the things I love about Skin Game is that while it is in large part a return to form as Harry is once again alive and in Chicago and we’re one again in a genre that at least borders noir because at its core this is a fantasy heist movie. Without giving away more than that Harry is part of the crew that has to break into an extremely secure vault. And like in any good heist movie you have to gather the crew, figure out who you can trust and eventually pull off the crime along with all the twists and turns that comes with that.
There are only a couple of very minor complaints in this book. The biggest, which is really very small in the scheme of things is that Harry spends just a little more time than I might like not trusting himself. He has good reason to question himself, but he is at points in the story reassured by Murphy, Michael, an archangel and a god, yet at the end he is still struggling with it. I know this type of struggle never goes away and internal conflict is important to good character, but it could be toned down just a hair. The other issue is with Dresden himself. Hells bells man, stop walking around without any of your tools. I know you’re going to a fancy party and can’t bring everything but put something in your pocket so you don’t exhaust yourself in your first fight every time. It was fun the first fourteen times, but at some point you want the character to learn from his mistakes.
That leaves to the recommendation which seems largely unnecessary for a series that is this long and this good. If you have read the first fourteen books in the Dresden Files you should order Skin Game now. It won’t be out for most of a month but you’ll want to make certain it arrives on your doorstep on May 27th and if you can take the day off so you can start reading immediately. This is my current favorite of The Dresden File books. It had truly funny moments, moments that made me cry and one or two at the end that did both at the same time. This may not have expanded the lore of the series quite as much as some other books in the series but it showed the character of its characters and had a lot of fun doing it.
P.S. and if you haven’t read the Dresden Files you’re in luck. There are fourteen excellent books to read already out. No need to wait for any of them and by the time you’re done Skin Game will be out and you can read it too, but I don't necessarily recommend jumping in here. You'll probably enjoy it, but no where near as much as you'll enjoy all fifteen books.
*Note* I was given an advanced review copy of Skin Game by Jim Butcher. This did not bias my review in any way.