Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden - wizard. He advertises his services as a magical private investigator: "Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment."
It is early in the 21st century. People are finally beginning to accept magic does exist in the world, and can work side by side with the science that was the god of the 19th and 20th centuries. Harry lives in Chicago, and is the only wizard in the world who allows the regular population know what he is and what he does. He barely makes a living at his work. One of the jobs that keeps him going is consulting for Chicago P.D. when a paranormal crime appears to have been committed.
Harry gets a call from a nervous woman whose husband is missing. She believes he has left to practice magic. She is reluctant to talk with Harry. She knows it can be dangerous to work with a wizard. He knows she isn't telling the whole story. But he can use the retainer she pays him - it will pay his back rent.
At the same time, the detective in charge of paranormal investigations in the police department calls Harry. He is asked to consult on a case of double murder that is definitely comitted with black magic. After witnessing the apalling scene, Harry reluctantly agrees to help. Soon he is stopped by the local mob head. He is offered a higher payment to not investigate the case. Harry refuses.
Harry starts to investigate the case of the missing husband and at the same time figure what type of spell was used to kill the couple. When people start attacking him, he knows he is getting somewhere. Now, if he can only survive until he finds the truth...
What a great introduction to the Dresden Files series. Harry narrates the novel, so we know what he's thinking at all times. We get glimpses of his past, knowing more will be revealed in later novels. The magical realm is brought together with the current scientific thinking showing the problems with trying to accept both areas of beliefs. Plus, it is humorous. I kept chuckling out loud and reading small bits to my daughters. Do you know why wizards wear cloaks? Because it is so cold working in their labs making potions...
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