cover image Peace Talks

Peace Talks

Jim Butcher. Ace, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-451-46441-5

Butcher ramps up the tension for wizard Harry Dresden in this open-ended 16th installment to the Dresden Files urban fantasy series (after Skin Game). The supernatural world is coming together for a cease-fire, and Harry is called to serve on the security team during the peace talks. When Thomas Raith, Harry’s half-brother, attempts to assassinate the leader of the Svartalves, one of the groups in attendance, Harry comes under suspicion for his role in the crime. With the aid of vampire Lara Raith and human detective Karrin Murphy, Harry frees Thomas from prison and certain death. Along the way, he discovers a new threat that could upend both the mundane and supernatural worlds. The first half of the novel is taken up by backstory, which will help newcomers navigate Dresden’s world, but longtime fans will find the exposition tedious. When Butcher finally pushes the story forward, readers are rewarded for their patience with gritty magical worldbuilding and bursts of dark humor. The high-stakes mysteries established in the second act are left largely unresolved—including the question of why Thomas attempted to murder the Svartalves leader—making this feel more like a prologue to the next in the series than a self-contained narrative. Die-hard fans will hope to see the action from the end carry into the next volume. Agent: Jennifer Jackson, Donald Maass Literary. (July)