Audio reviews reflect PW's assessment of the audio adaptation of a book and should be quoted only in reference to the audio version.
Harry Dresden is a wizard, but he doesn't live in a fantasyland. He's a freelance consultant in a two-bit office in Chicago, and he's two months behind on his rent. When a woman hires him to track down her missing husband, it seems like easy money. But soon victims are being found murdered by sorcery, with their hearts magically removed from their chests. Harry has to track down the killer, an unknown, powerful wizard who's trying to take him out at the same time. Meanwhile, the White Council of Wizards believes Harry is the murderer and is about to pass a death sentence on him, the cops are suspicious of him and a mob boss is warning him to keep his nose out of the investigation. Butcher deftly blends the fantasy and detective genres in this entertaining yarn. His magic follows internally consistent rules, giving the fantastical proceedings a sense of reality. Actor Marsters (of TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer) proves himself a talented audio narrator. He reads Harry in a dry, ironic tone, deepening his voice to concern and worry when innocents (or Harry's own life) are in danger. He adeptly handles the other character voices as well: sexy vampire Bianca; grim, gruff Council member Morgan; a nervous teenage pizza delivery boy; and upper-crust British Bob, a centuries-old talking skull. Based on the Roc mass market paperback. (Aug.)