Note: Review #3 of the Drunken Monkey Book Club
Review by Daniel Ruth
Reading about Dresden in this new book "Peace Talks" is like seeing an old friend again after he's been visiting foreign lands. I say this because the last few books have been good, even great, but one was a murder mystery of a dead man and the other was mission impossible adventure saga. Both were different and definitely stretched character development, but they were exotic and flashy and the typical Dresden characters didn't show up much. I didn't realize how much I missed them until they were back. Still, it wasn't all smooth sailing.
The story picks up not terribly long after the heist and you get to see what people have been doing since that little escapade. Some of its good stuff, most of its bad. It was nice to see his relationship with Murphy progress and see his physical recovery from being dead and atrophied. There is also a lot of fallout when there is news that the peace talks with the enemy are happening and they are happening in Chicago. To be honest it had been so long since the last book I couldn't recall who that was until they talked about it a bit. I was thinking "Isn't the Red/Black Court dead?".
Then a lot of shit lands on Dresden at once. Its a bit hard to take in everything going on for Dresden at once. It comes across as a bit forced, though his analysis of the situation helps us understand that it is not just a bunch of random events but he is being actively plotted against. It is still a bit hard to accept. One disappointment is that there is actually a perfect opportunity for Dresden to re-sharpen his detective skills. Not to go into details but something bad happens to a person he is close to. That person is forced to do something very stupid and is going to pay a high price. As a detective, you would think one of the first things he would do was to find out who forced this person to do these horrible things. Nope. It doesn't even cross his mind. It is so absent in Dresden's stream of thought that it is obvious by not being there. Now the book takes place over about two days so it is not like there is a lot of time. Dresden is constantly moving through some hectic events so its doubtful he would have been able to do anything to follow up even if he wanted to. But it didn't even cross his mind to find out and use it as leverage to save the situation.
As many have noted, the book feels like half a book. It's a decent length, so I can see how the author wouldn't be able to include the entire story without it growing out of control, so I don't think this is just a money grab. However, it definitely ends in a cliff hanger. It is what it is. It doesn't have a lot of fighting but it definitely has a ton of action and so much happens that I can't imagine how you could fit it into a smaller space without losing more than you gained. But... it's still half a book.
Never the less, it's the same old Harry. By turns self-righteous, heartwarming, and sacrificing, bulling his way through situations by force rather than finesse. As always, he has a lot of heart and he says a lot of things he probably shouldn't and stirs up more shit than he probably should. Sometimes it seems like he's holding the idiot ball and then it's handed to someone else. Then you see other people start doing completely moronic things and your thinking "In what world do people think this isn't going to make things worse?". Part of this is just the Harry vs White/Black Council conflict that has been happening since book one. Part of this has to be that plot against Harry that is mentioned early on, because if people acted that stupid all the time they would die trying to tie their shoes. And finally, part of this is Harry and his Grandfather. You can see a lot of anger in this relationship and much of the time your thinking "why don't they just shut up and listen to each other?" and then you start to think about real family relationship and how angry you get with the people you love. Then you think, "Okay, I can sorta see this."
Overall I liked it. It's flawed by various degrees but they are things I can understand. Some of the conflicts seem forced but it doesn't break anything. A lot of times I just shrugged my shoulders and chalked it up to Harry... being Harry. However, if you don't like being left with a cliffhanger its been long enough that the next book is out and it should bring things to a satisfying conclusion. Just go out and buy it. I know I am.