Same style and plot structure as the first one, although overall weaker in all aspects. There is not many new and/or interesting characters, and the old ones haven't progressed too much. Harry continues to run into danger without his full power or a solid plan, but somehow everything turns out all right in the end.
Harry investigates a series of murders where werewolves were involved. He struggles now involve balancing his work and his relationship with Susan, gathering information and deciding how much to share with Murphy in order to keep her safe and still on his side, proving a man innocent of the crime, dodging the FBI restrictions on his involvement with the case, helping Murphy to deal with Internal Affairs because of her involvement with him, keeping himself alive against the ire of a refused mob-boss and an angry pack of werewolves, and keeping his ass out of jail for, well, again knowing about magic when a crime apparently involving magic is committed.
OK, this definitely contains spoilers:
Werewolves types, in somewhat order of power
Werewolf #1, the classical werewolf: humans able to shapeshift into werewolves through a spell. Weak because doesn't gain the instincts of a wolf - gang known as Alphas, nerdy environmental activists teens that wants to help Harry take out the bad guysWerewolf #2, lycanthrope: the transformation occur on their minds more then their bodies, they become more aggressive, gaining healing and strength. - gang known as the Streetwolves, wants Harry dead, because they're territorial and he invaded their turfWerewolf #3, hexenwolves: someone who made a deal with a demon or sorcerer to get a enchanted item that turns them into wolves. Can turn at will, keeping most of their wits. - gang FBI corrupt agents. Wants Harry dead because he is trying to stop themWerewolf #4, shapeshifter: not clear on its nature, a wolf that turns into a human at will - Tera West: MacFinn's bride, wants Harry to help her fianceWerewolf #5, loup-garou: people cursed to become a wolf-demon, super powerful. Turn in the full moon - MacFinn: framed for the murders, wants Harry help to prove him innocent
The other characters (wouldn't call this spoiler)
Susan: wants a story. Her relationship with Dresden evolves into a love affectionMurphy: wants Harry to tell her everything he knows and then get the hell out of her way. Will beat him senseless otherwise.Marcone: wants to hire Harry for an unlimited amount of money. Harry tells him to fuck off, repeatedly
A very crud sequence of events:
- Murphy takes Dresden to crime scene- meet FBI dicks- talks about trust issues- uses blood found on scene to track down suspects- Harry finds group of teens with an older woman with them- he is attacked in the dark, meets Murphy, goes home- Harry finds Marcone awaiting him at his home. Tells him to fuck off- learns about the types of werewolves from Bob- gets a tip from an FBI assistant- meets the Streetwolves, almost gets killed (for no reason)- second murder (no time to rest)- Murphy saw Harry with the victim before, arrests him (kicks his ass)- older woman from before frees him from police, he gets shot- wakes up to find she knows the supposed killer, her fiance, who is a loup-garou. Wants help proving him innocent- finds fiance, police finds them, they escape. Fiance is arrested- Harry must bind him with a spell before he turns when its full moon- breaks into jail disguised, but it's too late. The loup-garou kills a lot of policeman- tries to follow him, gets chased by the Streewolves gang- gets caught, has no magic left, gets spanked and captured- kept alive for to be delivered to Marcone.- Marcone wants him alive, the gang wants him dead. They fight over it- the FBI is on the scene. They transform into wolves and try to kill Harry- the young Alphas werewolves come to rescue Dresden- they flee and prepare for a final showdown at Marcone's house- arriving there, Marcone has sided with the FBI to take Dresden out- Harry is captured, along with the young werewolves and Murphy- Marcone is betrayed by the FBI agents who wanted him dead all along- The rogue agents plan: put Marcone with the others, using him as bait for the loup-garou, who would then kill everyone in the way- Harry manages to escape, turns into a werewolf himself with magic and defeats the hexenwolves- Final confrontation with loup-garou: manages to pull some powerful magic and kills him
The book is pretty much the same as the first one, feeling a bit worst because the main characters had already been introduced. It keeps the same frantic level of events unfolding and Harry having no time to rest in between.
The final showdown is even more forced then in the previous book. Harry has no power, no plan (or a lousy one) and tries to take on a bunch of werewolves all by himself. Even one werewolf alone would have been able to kill him. He is facing a gang of highly trained magic enhanced FBI agents plus a mastermind criminal, and he thinks he can doit it by himself.
When captured, the book commits one of the most offending plot cliches, which is the overconfident villain. Agent Denton, the leader of the FBI agents, decides not to kill Harry, in order to let the loup-garou do it and it all would seem like the werewolf was responsible for everything. This felt too weak of an argument.
There were some hard to believe scenes, like in the beginning where an FBI agent tries to outright shoot Murphy in the face for disagreeing with her, and everybody thinks that was OK, just like spilling coffee. Also Murphy is too eager to condemn arrest Harry, even though she knows he is innocent, claiming because he has a history of lying to her (in order to save her life), he must be guilty of something.
In the end, Harry had defeated a gang of werewolves corrupt FBI agents, a powerfull monster, a gang of street thugs werewolves, gone against one of the countries mos dangerous criminals. After being knocked down to the ground, believing Murphy had shot him for resisting arrest, he says “I forgive you Murphy, you had every reason to believe me guilty”. That is a bit too much to take, but I could look past that. I understand what the author is trying to achieve, painting him as the kind of altruistic hero that always takes the high road, even though beating himself along the way for things he cannot control.
Another thing that was present in the first book but is more clear here is the black/white morality of the characters. Marcone is clearly bad, and Harry would not even speak with him if not to insult him. The FBI agents goes from vigilantes to killing innocent people without hesitation, in order to fulfill their goals.
In spite of all these problems, I still liked the book. Harry's personality follows him from the first book and sustains the story well enough. Murphy's suspicion of him still makes her a good character to hate, even though her scenes were a little poorly constructed.