Harry Dresden is back for his second adventure as Chicago’s top and only private investigator wizard. In my review of the first book, I mentioned a friend convinced me to give this series a shot. That same friend warned me that Fool Moon and book #3 do not hold up to Storm Front. But that the series does pick back up again if you stick with it for a bit. That being said, do not go into Fool Moon with the expectations set by Storm Front. If anything, be happy the series only skimmed shark-infested waters instead of jumping over those sharks this early on.
So, back to the modern-day pulp fiction at hand. Fool Moon was early in Jim Butcher’s career and that “budding author” writing style is apparent here. The characters are a bit 2D in this story, swaying towards being tropes instead of people. Some of them are almost insufferable, particularly Harry and Murphey’s currently strained relationship. The new bad guys were pretty staple villains, although Marcone pops up again and remains interesting. But while the characterization is a bit plain in that “developing talent” sense, other aspects of the story improve.
The mystery the plot revolves around is much more fleshed out in Fool Moon. This time around it is a murder mystery, with multiple suspects and twists and turns as more evidence is uncovered. And while Fool Moon can be read as a standalone story, an overarching plot starts to develop here. We start to learn a bit more about Harry’s past, including things Harry himself was unaware of. The epilogue also works on pushing the main plot forward; while a series of “adventure of the week” stories can work, the Dresden Files would probably not be as popular as it is if it had the same structure and pacing as a 90s sci-fi/fantasy TV show.
Another key thing here is this book showcasing just how powerful Harry is as a wizard. The first book mentions it but it is more explained than shown. This time around, we get a show-of-force example of how crazy powerful Harry can be when he needs to be. It is always fun to see the protagonist be a badass.
On the whole, this was a good book. Not great, but good. And if this level of quality qualifies as a “bad” book in the Dresden Files series, the great ones should be pretty phenomenal.