Title: Storm Front - Book One of the Dresden Files
Author: Jim Butcher
Published: April 2000
Publisher: First published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguim Putnam Inc.
Standing strong with contemporaries like Vicki Nelson and Jack Fleming, Harry Dresden is a Private Investigator in an alternate Chicago, and is the only advertising wizard in the phone book.
His ad reads:
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or
Harry is also almost perpetually out of work, except for rare assignments handed to him by the Chicago Police Department, when they run into something they can't handle.
He's also being stalked by a member of The White Council named Morgan, an evoker with a big sword who's job it is is to kill Harry if it looks like he's even thinking about using black magic (like Harry's mentor did).
Even more threatening is his newest case, however, where somebody is using very powerful dark magic to kill people in Chicago. And the White Council suspects Harry.
Harry has a weekend to track down the true culprit and clear his name, while also convincing the Police that he's really working with them, and manage not to have his heart wrenched from his chest during a gigantic involuntary orgasm. All in a day's work...
Picked the book up after seeing it on the shelves for a couple of months, touted as the next best thing to Laurell K. Hamilton or Tanya Huff, and recommended highly by Glen Cook.
It's really somewhere between Huff and Cook...more of Cook's humor, if you've read his Faded Steel Heart, but still a decent and engaging magical P.I. read. Flew through it in about 2 and a half hours.
The dialogue is fairly sharp, though this is no pulitzer prize stuff:
"More than anything else, Bianca wanted to be beautiful. And tonight, I had destroyed her illusion. I had rattled her gilded little world. She sure as hell wasn't going to let me forget that.
"She shuddered and jerked her eyes away, furious and frightened at the same time, before I could see any deeper into her--or she into me. 'If I had not given you my word, Dresden' she whispered, 'I would kill you this instant.'
"'That would be unfortunate' I said. I kept my voice hard. 'You should know the risks in a wizard's death curse. You've got something to lose, Bianca. And even if you could take me out, you can bet your pretty ass I'd be dragging you into hell with me.'
"She stiffened, then turned her head to one side, and let her fingers go limp. It was a silent, bitter surrender. She didn't move quickly enough for me to miss seeing a tear streak down one cheek.
"I'd made the vampire cry. Great. I felt like a real superhero. Harry Dresden, breaker of monsters' hearts."
The book is also out in audio format, read by James Marsten.