Published 2006 520 pages
Synopsis (from the back cover)
Harry Dresden is the only wizard in the Chicago phone book. He consults for the police department on ‘unusual' cases, and has even appeared on talk shows. And this makes him no friends on the White Council of Wizards, who find Harry brash and undisciplined. However, now that the vampire wars have thinned the ranks of wizards, the White Council needs Harry, like it or not. He's drafted as a Warden, and assigned to look into rumours of black magic in the Chicago area.
And, if that isn't enough, another problem arrives for Harry in the form of the tattooed and pierced daughter of an old friend, all grown-up and already in trouble. Her boyfriend was the only one in the room when an old man was attacked, but in spite of this, he insists he didn't do it. What looks like a supernatural assault straight out of a horror film turns out to be… well, something quite close to that, as Harry discovers that malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in Chicago. All in a day's work for a wizard, his faithful dog, and a talking skull named Bob….
Proven Guilty is the eighth book in The Dresden Files urban fantasy series following the magical investigations and adventures of Harry Dresden Chicago’s best known wizard. If you haven’t yet read any of the previous books in the series, I wouldn’t recommend that you start here. Not because this book isn’t very good (on the contrary Proven Guilty is another solid instalment of Dresden goodness) but because the series has reached a stage where you really need to be familiar with the whole back story to understand what is happening in this novel. Characters from previous novels and events from the earlier books have a direct bearing on the plot Proven Guilty and a reader who hasn’t read the previous books in the series will be at a disadvantage.
The plot of Proven Guilty spans a couple of action packed days in Harry’s life and I mean action packed. It is the established style of Jim Butcher to push his protagonist Harry from one dangerous situation to another without leaving him time to catch a breath and this novel is no different. Early on in the story Harry is left with a concussion after the blue beetle is run off the road but he has to pick himself up and spend the rest of the novel kicking magical butt, getting himself even more beaten up in the process.
Harry is a genuine good guy. He remains chivalrous and gallant towards the women in his life (which is probably why his love life is non-existent) and is always prepared to make a stand for what he thinks is right. Even after his foes start to become more appealing, for example he has an interesting and some what dangerous relationship with a Lasciel (a fallen angel that he trapped in his basement and his head) he is never able to forget what is right. So even as Lasciel tempts Harry he can never forget what the right thing to do is. You would think that this might make Harry an irritating character but he is written in just the right way to make him likable as well as morally upstanding.
The plot of Proven Guilty covers Harry’s battle to save Molly, the daughter of a friend who is also an uninitiated wizard who has just come into her powers, from evil fae creatures that have stolen her away to the heart of the fairy Winter Queen’s territory. He also needs to save her from the consequences of her own actions. Molly has unwittingly broken one of the laws of the White Council, a crime publishable by death for which ignorance isn’t an excuse.
As far as the vampire content of this book goes, although the White Council wizards are still at war with the Red Court vampires, the battle is only referred to as a background to current events. Apart from Harry’s half-brother Thomas, a White Court vampire who feeds on human life force rather than blood, the closest Harry gets to vampires in this story are the goth girls that he sees dressed up as vampires at the local horror film fan convention.
Proven Guilty has the feel of a novel that is bringing together loose ends in preparation for a larger revelation. Harry realises that there is a traitor placed high up in the White Council and he thinks that seemingly unconnected events that happen in previous books are no longer a coincidence. It will be interesting to see where the author goes with this.
With vampires, werewolves, wizards, warlocks, fairies, Holy Knights, zombies and a whole host of other mythical and magical creatures Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files are a must read for any urban fantasy fan.
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