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  •  Bookpost 4: Jim Butcher/Rick Castle (10+ / 0-)

    Leader of the Pack: Fool Moon, by Jim Butcher  
    I have what might be considered a very out-of-date and chauvinist attitude about women. I like to treat women like ladies. I like to open doors for them, pay for the meal when I’m on a date, bring flowers, draw out their seat for them—all that sort of thing. I guess I could call it an attitude of chivalry, if I thought more of myself. Whatever you called it, Murphy was a lady in distress. And since I had put her there, it only seemed right that I should get her out of trouble, too.
    That wasn’t the only reason I wanted to stop the killings. Seeing Spike torn up like that had scared the hell out of me. I was still shaking a little, a pure and primitive reaction to a very primal fear. I did not want to get eaten by an animal, chewed up by something with a lot of sharp teeth. The very thought of that made me curl up on my car’s seat and hug my knees to my chest, an awkward position considering my height and the comparatively cramped confines of the Beetle.

    In the second installment in the “Dresden Files” series, Chicago’s almost-tough consulting wizard races with the moon cycle to stop one or more werewolves before more victims get slaughtered.  He endures a string of spectacular fails, and manages to defeat the villain and avoid getting chomped, as before, with a lot of luck and assistance.

    Dresden is brain candy, not great literature. I’m intrigued enough to stay with the series because I’m hoping the character grows over time. As I noticed with volume one, Storm Front, all of Dresden’s stats are in reckless courage and magic, and there are enough regulations and energy limits on the magic that he can’t just cast spells out of every situation; in fact, he’s tapped out for most of the book, and without the muscle, the intelligence, the wisdom or the charisma to find other ways out of his problems, the way other detectives do.

    On one of my forums last month, I had a pie fight over Storm Front with people alleging that Butcher was (gasp) sexist!  I suppose that, if you hate Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, John D. MacDonald and all the other lone male sleuths in detective fiction who spend a lot of their adventures philosophizing from a place of detached superiority while the female characters mostly need rescuing or are evil, you won't like this series.  If you hate the kind of 40 year old Virgin type movies where some doofus is finally, finally helped to get a clue and all the women he's mistreated throughout the movie immediately jump for joy and want to marry him, you won't like this series. Because, at least here in the first couple of books, Dresden is that kind of doofus. He has lousy dating skills. He withholds information from women on the theory that they Can't Handle The Truth, with the result that they don't know what to do when danger arrives, and good people get hurt and killed.  

    And his code of honor is stupid.  When the local chaotic-good mobster trope (i.e., the violent criminal with some semblance of a code of honor) wants to establish a diplomatic understanding with Dresden, the wizard not only turns him down but goes out of his way to be insulting.  Compare this with Spenser, who opposes organized crime when his cases require it, but who knows enough not to rock the boat and cultivates a working relationship with just about every crime leader in Boston, running the full spectrum of Bad.  Dresden will learn diplomacy over time, or the series will be a short one.

    All of this is a far cry from the author sharing in the character's bad qualities.  I see no implication that Dresden's doofus behavior is supposed to be praiseworthy; in fact, the consequences he suffers seem to indicate that Butcher knows Dresden is wrong, and (hopefully) plans to make the character grow over time. I'm still intrigued. Your mileage may vary.

    As Seen on TV: Naked Heat, by “Richard Castle”  
    He may have been in the same place, because in some unspoken ballet of synchronization, the two leaned forward at the same instant, drawn to each other by a tender kiss. When they parted, they smiled again and just held each other, jaws resting on opposing shoulders, their chests slowly rising and falling as one.
    “And so you know, Rook, I’m sorry too. About this afternoon in the car, being so rough on you.”
    A full minute passed and he said, “And so you know? I’m good with rough.”
    Nikki drew back from him and gave him a sly look. “Oh, are you?” She reached down and took him in her hand. “How rough?”
    He cupped a palm behind her head, lacing his long fingers through her hair. “Wanna find out?”
    She gave him a squeeze that made him gasp and said, “You’re on.”
    And then she gasped as he gathered her up in his arms and carried her to the bedroom. Halfway down the hall, she bit his ear and whispered, “My safe word is “pineapples.”

    Unless you’ve been watching the Castle TV series, this is an average-to-good police mystery. If you have been seeing it, it’s gorram hilarious.  The show has some amazing writers and an excellent cast, and the chemistry between the main actors is wonderful to behold.

    The novel isn’t quite a written episode of Castle with the names changed to Jameson Rook and Nikki Heat, the characters in the book about Beckett that Castle writes in the series.  It’s better than that...it’s a Castle episode as Rick Castle himself would have written it, where Rook and Heat are friggling like bunnies and there’s no mother and daughter in the apartment to walk in on intimate moments.

    Also, Rook is a famous journalist, not a novelist, which gives the writers a chance to explore how it might affect the series if, instead of Nikki Heat novels, the Beckett character was written up in the press by her intermittently welcome ride-along. It gets interesting.  The mystery part, not so much; it matches one of the frequently used formulaic plots from the series.  I singled out as “most likely suspect” the actual killer the first time that character appeared, and though the plot shifts back and forth several times, I was pretty much able to predict most of the twists before they happened. Recommended anyway, for the fun of the chase.

    "By Grabthar's Hammer, you have been avenged!" --attributed to President Barack Obama

    by AdmiralNaismith on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 05:07:06 PM PDT

    •  I had no idea (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, newdem1960

      there was an actual Castle book out there! Thanks!

      There's a reason Democrats won massively the last two cycles, and it wasn't because people were desperate for "bipartisanship". --kos

      by Debby on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 10:12:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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