Last time: Harry Dresden gets attacked by werewolves! (again)
This time: unexpected gangster conversation!
Marcone had eyes the color of old, faded dollar bills
In the first book Butcher described Marcone’s eyes as “money-coloured” (BECAUSE DO YOU SEE) and was apparently so proud of this simile that he proceeded to use it approximately ten thousand more times. Then again absolutely everything about Marcone is a giant cliche.
From behind him, Mr. Hendricks looked like an all-star collegiate lineman who hadn’t been smart enough to go into the pros. Hendricks’s neck was as big around as my waist
Must be related to Marcus Fenix.
“Now, now, Mr. Dresden,” Marcone said, a father’s reproof in his tone. “Is that any way to talk to a business partner?”
Did I mention Marcone is a giant cliche?
In the previous book Harry and Marcone had an interesting relationship, in that they developed a kind of uneasy alliance against a mutual threat. Here, Harry decides all of a sudden that he hates Marcone’s guts and thinks he’s scum. It feels very contrived.
I took off my duster and dropped it over the table in front of the door, the one covered in pamphlets with titles like “Witches and You,” and “Want to Do Magic? Ask Me How!”
This feels like it was lifted straight from a Harry Potter novel, which is a little jarring. And again: if Harry is handing out pamphlets offering to give people magic lessons, what’s stopping him from just doing some magic for the police to prove he’s actually a wizard?
Witches and You
This book would be so much better if it was about witches. I am making my 100% pro-witch stance known.
Marcone offers to give Harry information on the Lobo killings in return for Harry working for him. The terms of this employment are incredibly generous- he would get to work his own hours, set his own salary and wouldn’t be asked to do anything unlawful. Now, I know working for the mafia even in a legitimate sense would be both dangerous and morally iffy, but if someone put a contract like that in front of me I’d at least be tempted. At the same time I can’t really fault Harry for turning it down.
“Let me make you an offer, John,” I said. I saw the corner of his cheek twitch when I used his first name
Marcone gets really pissed when people don’t act respectful toward him. Because, like,
The Godfather has a lot to answer for.
Harry figures that Marcone thinks he’s in danger from the killer and that’s why he’s willing to offer Harry such a sweet deal.
“I am a man of business, Mr. Dresden. Would you prefer anarchy in the streets? Wars between rival crime lords? I bring order to that chaos.
Wow, I’ve never seen a fictional crime boss use exactly those words before.
Anyway, Harry gets to be self-righteous some more and Marcone eventually gives harry the information for free, presumably because he is actually afraid.
Look up the name Harley MacFinn. Ask about the Northwest Passage Project. See where they lead you.
Harley Macfinn is totally a superhero comic name.
“Just as you should know that it was unwise to make an enemy of me. It need not have been this way.
This is like the sixth person who Harry has managed to get on the bad side of since the start of the first book. Butcher is really squirreling those plot threads away for the winter.
I hadn’t realized the depth of the disgust in me for Marcone and what he stood for. I hadn’t realized how much it had sickened me to have my name associated with his. I hadn’t realized how much I wanted to launch myself at the man and smash him in the nose with my fists.
It’s awfully convenient that you only noticed that now instead of during the previous book.
Okay so Harry summons a demon and it’s all raging against the summoning circle and roaring, but then it straightens up and starts speaking in a posh accent (by which I mean an English accent because the two are as one, apparently) because it was just “following the formalities” and it’s just….It’s like a really lame Terry Pratchett rip-off. The humour in these books sucks.
The demon- “Chauncy”- keeps trying to get Harry to pledge his allegiance to the United States of not-Hell but Harry just wants information. So Chauncy offers to tell him stuff in exchange for “one of his names”.
The demon had two of my names already. If he gained my whole name, from my own lips, he could use it in any number of magical applications against me
Fantasy authors need to get off this True Name kick, the idea has been driven into the ground. Was it Earthsea? All they all just ripping off Earthsea?
Very well,” Chauncy said. “Harley MacFinn is an heir to a considerable fortune made in coal mining and railroads at the turn of the twentieth century. He is one of the ten richest men in the country known as the United States.
I like the implication here that Harry didn’t even bother doing a google search for this guy, or he would already know all of this.
(What’s that? Computers don’t work around wizards? Get Murphy to do it then)
QuinnMacFinn is buying up huge tracts of land for a wildlife preserve (which is probably for werewolves). One of the first Lobo victims was an industrialist who was trying to block the project.
Harry wonders if MacFinn could be the werewolf.
MacFinn is a member of an ancient family line from an island known as Ireland
I have never heard of anyone with this surname, but a Google search reveals that it is an actual name, just an unusual one- the first Wikipedia hit for it is the page for this book. There are also several places called MacFinn, but as a surname it appears to be very rare.
I don’t know why American depictions of Ireland always pick out relatively unusual or obscure features (like red hair) and use them consistently. It would be like if 90% of foreign depictions of the US had people in river-boats hunting alligators or something.
(Also not really blaming Butcher for this since it’s the sort of thing a demon probably wouldn’t realize, but referring to “an island known as Ireland” is sort of opening a can of potentially major political worms)
Sometime in the murky past, legend would have it, the man known as Saint Patrick
We’re not actually doing this are we
Sometime in the murky past, legend would have it, the man known as Saint Patrick cursed his ancestor to become a ravening beast at every full moon. The curse came with two addenda. First, that it would be hereditary, passing down to someone new each and every generation. And second, that the cursed line of the family would never, ever die out, lasting until the end of days.
Yep, we’re doing it. Also really curious how that last condition works, are his family members compelled to have children or something?
Chauncy knows who exactly the killer is but won’t tell Harry anything else.
There is a limit to how much I may involve myself in mortal affairs.
That limit is exactly enough to get the plot moving along, but not enough to actually resolve it early.
Chauncy explains that Marcone now owns a majority share of the business interests of Harding, the guy who was opposing MacFinn’s wuffle reserve. This immediately makes me think that MacFinn killed Harding and then Marcone got the business and is naturally afraid that this makes him the next target (remember, one of the previous victims worked for him) but the theory Harry comes up with is that Marcone killed Harding as part of a scheme to make MacFinn pay through the nose for the land, even though Harding was obviously killed by a werewolf so this idea requires the assumption that Marcone has one working for him and doesn’t explain the other murders at all. Surely assuming MacFinn is the killer is far more parsimonious given the current information.
Chauncy adjusted his wire-frame spectacles. “Your reasoning would seem to be sound.”
What no it isn’t what kind of demon are you
I nodded. “My name,” I said, “is Harry Blackstone Dresden.” I carefully omitted “Copperfield” from the words, while leaving the tones and pronunciation the same.
Jesus, Harry’s parents just didn’t give the poor guy a chance, did they.
Chauncy randomly drops the drama-bomb that the denizens of not-Hell knew Harry’s mother and that “the Dark Prince” really wanted her soul when she died but she managed to redeem herself somehow and want to (presumably) not-Heaven. He offers to spill the beans for Harry’s last name.
My father had perished in his sleep, of an aneurism, when I was young. My mother had died in childbirth.
Or had they?
I’d really love it if Chauncy was just fucking with him here and it turned out his parents did actually just die from totally mundane causes.
I’ve read several times of this trope relating to dead parents in fiction where the father is venerated and has a massive impact on the child’s psyche while the mother kind of gets shunted off to the side. But here, if I’m remembering the first book correctly Harry seems to fixate very heavily on his mother, while his Dad is basically a non-entity.
The price is comparatively low. What need have you for your immortal soul when your body is finished with it?
This seems to suggest that there isn’t a a traditional afterlife in this universe, in the sense that people remain conscious and sentient beings. Which would be interesting.
We are watching you, wizard!” he screamed. “You walk through shadows and one night you will slip and fall. And when you do, we will be there. We will be waiting to bring you down to us. You will be ours in the end.
I cannot imagine why anyone would want to willingly spend time in Harry’s company. If I was the demons I’d be paying him money to stay away.
And yet another potential enemy introduction. This must be the sixth or seventh one so far. Also, it’s kind of telling that so many of Harry’s interactions end with people swearing to murder him.
Anyway Harry gets a call from Murph telling him that- DUN DUN DUUUN- it seems MacFinn has been killed. Which admittedly scuppers my theory but based on the evidence we had a minute ago it was perfectly sound.