Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Grave Peril ch. 16


Chapter Sixteen


Finding people is hard, especially when they don’t want to be found.


Harry is out looking for Lydia. Weren’t Mister and Bob supposed to be coming along too? They seem to have vanished. Maybe they struck out on their own.

I didn’t want Lydia to become one of these statistics. Either she was one of the bad guys and had been playing me for a sucker,

I still don’t get why Harry keeps thinking this is a plausible scenario, there’s been no indication that she’s up to something shady.

She could be possessed by one very big and very brawny spirit who needed to get some, pardon the pun, exorcise.

God even found that painful.

My wizard’s propensity for blowing out any kind of advanced technology seems to get worse when I’m upset, angry, or afraid. Don’t ask me why.

It’s much more convenient for the plot that way.

Harry draws a Wizard Circle and we get a little bit of magic exposition. As ever when Harry talks about magic it seems substantially different from how it worked in previous books, or indeed previous sentences. Blah blah blah evocations and blasting rods, most magic takes while to set up and prepare, except for when it doesn’t and Harry just “gathers energy” or whatever.

Anyway he uses his shield bracelet to “resonate” with the talisman that he gave Lydia. The whole detective/private investigator aspect of these books really isn’t all that compelling when Harry’s solution to every problem is to just pull out some new magical trick or object or feature; there’s always something readily at hand so the plot doesn’t have to slow down too much for any of that suspense business.

There were no sparks, no glowing luminescence or anything else that would cost a special effects budget some money-just a sense of completion, and a tiny, almost inaudible hum.

Magic, or the immediate aftermath of Harry’s date with rosie palms? You decide!

….. Let’s get that mental image out of our heads. Harry uses a tuning fork to hone in on Lydia’s location in some sort of dark abandoned warehouse of the sort that Chicago appears to be 90% composed of, if these books are any indication. As usual Harry says it would be much smarter to get Michael or Murphy in for backup, but of course there just ~ins’t enough time~ so he has to blunder in alone. This is another one of those foot-shooting moments that Butcher seems to excel at, as I would not have considered this at all if Harry didn’t bring it up only to dismiss the idea.

There’s a white van nearby that Harry can tell only arrived on the scene recently because its engine is ticking (do cars still do this?) so he wanders over for a looky-loo.

Hey, want to guess if this book’s thinly-characterized female side-character is going to get fridged?

A blanket-wrapped bundle, approximately Lydia-sized, lay inside the van. One pale hand lay limp outside of it, my talisman, scorched-looking and bloodstained, wrapped around the slender wrist.

Well at least she’s not naked this time.

But wait! Lydia is still alive! Thank god, I’ve really grown attached to this character during all of the page we’ve known her for.

Harry realizes too late that she’s been left as bait for a trap and turns around just in time to see a vampire coming at him, specifically the brother of the duo who invited him to the vampire party originally.

I think I’ve cracked Jim Butcher’s writing technique- have Harry encounter a supernatural whats-it, blunder into an abandoned area at night, then have the supernatural whats-it attack him. It’s like that Raymond Chandler advice, whenever you get stuck just have vampires appear.

Something blonde and incredibly swift slammed into me with the force of a rushing bull, throwing me off my feet and into the van.

I don’t know why but when I read this I have an image of someone throwing vampires at Harry to try and kill him.

What will Harry do now? Remember, most magic takes a long time to prepare! All he’s got is his blasting rod, will it be enough?????

The energy stored in the ring, all kinetic stuff that it saved back a little every time I moved my arm, unloaded in a flood, right in the vampire’s face, an unseen fury of motion.

Oh I guess he had another thing. This is kind of like having the hero of a traditional detective story pull out a handgun with infinite ammo whenever he’s in danger.

(Also I thought the prose had improved when I started this book but it’s rapidly sliding downhill)

It ripped the skin from his cheekbones, all rubbery black beneath the Anglo-Saxon pink

I guess we needed another reminder of how overwhelmingly white the cast is.

Well okay, there is Susan. I mean, we have to give Butcher credit for that, it’s not like she gets stabbed to death in an Aztec costume nine books from now or anything.

Harry asks why the vampires want Lydia and he claims that she’s been deceiving him, vindicating Harry’s nonsensical assumption that this was the case all along. Maybe he’s psychic or something.

Just then the vampire sister appears in an utterly ridiculous outfit!

She wore a white cat suit, clinging tight to her curves, along with white boots and gloves, and a short white cape with a deep hood.



Hey remember how whats-her-face the werewolf FBI agent was all feral and sexy and mindless in the last book? Well.

“Let me kill him,” moaned the female, her eyes all black, empty and hungry. “Kyle. I’m hungry.”

“moaned the female”

“Kyle,” the female moaned again.

Seriously what the fuck

Anyway there’s a brief fight and The Female starts trying to bite Harry (but in kind of a sexy way). Some of her saliva falls on his skin and he gets totally high on it and is all like “no it’s cool go ahead and bite me”. I guess this is the Dresden version of that whole erotic vampire bite thing. Anyone want to take bets on whether Harry will ever get high on male vampire spit? No of course he won’t. That would be gay.

It turns out Harry weakened the structure of the building in the fight and a wall collapses, letting in sunlight. I was assuming it was dusk since he said earlier that it would be night before help arrived, but whatever.

The Female bursts into flame. Yaaaawn. God vampires are so boring.

the one exception

the one exception

The Male hauls The Female into their kidnap-mobile and they speed away after vowing revenge. Wait I need to add something to the Butcher formula: have Harry encounter a supernatural whats-it, blunder into an abandoned area at night, then have the supernatural whats-it attack him, then afterward have the supernatural whats-it swear vengeance against Harry. This can be either the second or last step, or both!

Behind me, as I did, the sun sank beneath the horizon-freeing all the things that go bump in the night to come out and play.

Oh noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

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12 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Grave Peril ch. 16

  1. Pingback: Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Grave Peril ch. 17-18 | Doing In The Wizard

  2. Nerem

    Lame, it cut out part of my post.
    “Woah woah woah HOLD ON ONE MINUTE. You just shot like 12 bullets from a 6-bullet revolver and I KNOW you ain’t never reloaded!”
    “Yeah…. so? Whatcha gonna do about it?”

  3. Nerem

    I think I liked how I’m Gonna Gitcha Suckah handled it.

    Woah woah woah HOLD ON ONE MINUTE. You just shot like 12 bullets from a 6-bullet revolver and I KNOW you ain’t never reloaded!
    Yeah…. so? Whatcha gonna do about it?

  4. braak

    “This is kind of like having the hero of a traditional detective story pull out a handgun with infinite ammo whenever he’s in danger.”

    Murphy: “What happened, Harry?”

    HGarry: “Well, my gun was out of bullets!”

    Murphy: “What did you do?”

    Harry: “Well…well it happens that I had ANOTHER gun, this one in my pocket!”

    Murphy: “Did you shoot someone with it?”

    Harry: “Yeah! I mean, no! I TRIED to, but I dropped it!”

    Murphy: “Oh no!”

    Harry: “But as it happens, my shoe was ALSO a gun! Yeah, yeah! And so I shot him with that gun! And it didn’t kill him, but the bullet did ricochet off of a rock and hit the tire of a moving car which caused it to spin out and crash into the guy, which didn’t kill him but it did mean he had to…uh…to go away for a little while.”

    Am I doing it? Is this how you write crime adventure?

  5. callmeIndigo

    I do feel like the whole “technology is more likely to explode/whatever if I’m agitated” makes sense in a kind of emotions running high = less control kind of way, but on the other hand it could definitely have been explained like that very easily and wasn’t, so. There’s that.

    I keep reading “unloaded in a flood” as “unflooded in a flood” and the fact that I was initially unfazed by this sort of says a lot about Butcher’s writing.

  6. Reveen

    I still don’t get why Harry keeps thinking this is a plausible scenario, there’s been no indication that she’s up to something shady.

    Because this is noir and “dem feminine wiles” say one thing for Dresden. He knows what kind of book he’s in.

    If a female character shows up in stories like this you could probably reasonably guess with a coin flip.

  7. Saturday

    Apparently, Butcher started writing these books either to spite someone or after being challenged by someone who said that good books couldn’t follow a formula. Whether he succeeded or not is up to you. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of my info because I don’t remember where/when i read it, but it sounds plausible so I’ll pass it along.

  8. Pingback: Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Grave Peril ch. 14-15 | Doing In The Wizard

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