I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Friday, November 4, 2016

Fool Moon: Book Two of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

This book picks up a few months after the book Storm Front and Harry Dresden is not doing so well. He is barely making ends meet, mostly because his biggest client--the Special Investigations Unit of the Chicago police--haven't been calling much lately to give him work and Murphy, the head of the unit, is still not speaking to him at all after he made the mistake of shutting her out to protect her from an evil wizard.  Dresden can be a bit overly chivalrous. Murphy, though only five foot high, can very much take care of herself, especially if she has been given the knowledge she needs to do so.  Now, the trust between them is broken.

Kim, a college kid Dresden has been helping to learn how to use her magical abilities, comes to him with a drawing of three circles, wanting him to explain them to her as an "intellectual exercise". He reluctantly gives her the very basic information about the circles, but tells her emphatically that she has no business messing with this as it is way beyond her skills and dangerous. Kim leaves when Murphy shows up and tells him she needs him to come look at something.  It seems there is a lot she hasn't been telling him, like how IA has been breathing down her neck, looking for a way to take her down, and him with her if they could, which is why she has kept her distance.

The crime scene is in the county and technically  not in her jurisdiction, but she tells him that she is working on similar cases that have happened in the city and has permission to be there. What is left of the mangled body is that of crime lord Marcone's bodyguard.  Dresden pockets a piece of glass with blood on it from someone who crashed through the window.  This is when the Feds show up, who it seems are the ones really in charge of the serial murders. Things get heated and Agent Benn goes at Murphy, who blocks her, so Benn grabs her gun to take a shot at her and Dresden grabs Murphy and tackles her. Murphy tells the cops who come to investigate that it was an accident and makes no charges.  She can't afford to make waves.

Back at her car, Murphy tells him the whole story. Every month, around the full moon, several people have been brutally murdered. It started out with petty criminals, then one night it was a little old lady walking home one night (Yes, "Werewolves of London" by the late-great Warren Zevon does start to go through my head at this point. ("Little old lady got mutilated late last night/Werewolves of London again") I wonder if Butcher put that in intentionally?).  She called in the FBI early on because they have a better lab and there was hair left at the scene and other forensic evidence to be examined. It didn't occur to her that it could be supernatural until later. Harry sadly tells her that he knows zilch on werewolves, but he can find out and give her a report the next day. On the way back to his place, they are tailed by a woman.

Harry remembers the piece of glass with the blood on it and realizes that if he does not use it now before the blood dries, he cannot track it back to the person. He promised to not keep anything from Murphy, but there's no time. With his compass, he makes his circle and says the words and follows the arrow, which leads to an abandoned department store. Inside is a group of college nerds, who call themselves Alphas, and are some sort of wolf.  Then the woman who had been tailing him and Murphy comes in to tell them they need to leave because she was tailed. When the lights go out, Dresden goes forward to follow them, hoping to get a license plate number off a car, or something for Murphy, when something furry knocks him down at the knees. He hits it with his blasting rod, which it sends flying, then the creature disappears.  Dresden heads for the backdoor and runs right into Murphy.  She's ready to believe that these are the killers, but Harry's not so sure. The kids came off as totally harmless and the creature who attacked him could have easily killed him but chose not to.  He urges her to hold off on going after them and she agrees, for now.

When he gets home, Harry goes down into his basement where he works and wakes up Bob, the centuries-old spirit, who has worked with many wizards and knows a lot but is a pain in the ass, who lives in a skull.  Bob explains that there is more than one type of werewolf.  The classic werewolf is a human being who uses magic to turn himself into one. Of course, this is the only magic they are able to do. They can be put down just like regular wolves. Transmogrification is when someone else turns you into a werewolf and it will destroy their personality and self and is highly illegal. The hexenwolf is someone who has made a deal with a demon or powerful sorcerer. They give you a wolf belt that holds on to your spirit, you say some magic words and then you turn into a wolf.  "A huge wolf with human-level intelligence and animal level ferocity."  "A lycanthrope is a natural channel for a spirit of rage. A lycanthrope turns into a beast, but only inside his head. The spirit takes over...They also tend to be very resistant to pain or injury, sickness; they heal rapidly".  These wolves are born, not created.  Then there is the loup-garou, the worst of the worst. When the moon is full they become monsters and slaughter everything in sight until the sun rises. The only thing that can stop them is a weapon made of inherited silver.   No one has seen one of those since the 16th century France.

When he goes to the station to drop off the file for Murphy, he runs into Susan, the woman he has been kinda seeing for several months now. Dresden has trust issues with women after he was betrayed by one year ago, and he just cannot seem to be able to move past that.  Susan is a brilliant journalist for a tabloid who is determined to get the truth out there. He also runs into Agent Denton, the lead FBI agent on the case, who warns him not to go into Murphy's office right now because IA is in there.  Murphy likes Denton because he has a reputation as a solid cop, even if he is a non-believer. Most cops are.  So Dresden gives him the file to give to Murphy and calls her to make sure she got it. Agent Harris catches him before he leaves to let him know that Denton wants him to check out the Streetwolves, a tough gang causing lots of trouble, who could be the culprit.

Of course, this gang turns out to be a group of lycanthropes, who are a bit crazy. He has just stumbled onto their turf and really ticked them off.  The leader, Parker, is getting old and is now barely able to control them.  The group starts to chant and as they do, the energy in the garage grows stronger. Dresden does what he has to to get out of there and away, but he knows that Parker will be after him, because he threatened his authority of the pack and for Parker to keep his position he will have to kill Dresden.  So, this is just one more thing to worry about.  And worse, it seems that the Streetwolves had nothing to do with the killings, so he went there for nothing.

That night, Marcone shows up and offers Dresden a job as bodyguard, because he seems to believe that he will be the next one to be killed. Dresden refuses, of course, but Marcone does offer up the name Harley MacFinn and the Northwest Passage Project as something he should look into.  Bob struck out using the local sources of fairies and spirits, so Harry was forced to go to the underworld for answers and summons a demon. Chauncey is the one he has been using and he not only offers the answers to his questions about MacFinn and the Northwest Passage Project but also information that could save his life and others. The price, though is one of his names.  Names are very valuable and you do not want anyone to know your full name because they can use it against you. A demon can do nothing itself with your name, but there are others who can.  He agrees to the deal.  MacFinn comes from a long line that started in Ireland who was cursed by St. Patrick to turn into a "ravaging beast" every full moon and would be passed down from generation to generation, never to end.  MacFinn is a loup-garou who is trying to buy up lots of land in the Rockies to donate to the government and remain untouched. James Harding was one of the businessmen who strongly opposed him and had come into town last month to meet with him, but was killed by the serial killer before the could meet.  Marcone, his business partner, inherits the business they had together, which gives him a motive for the murders and also a reason to be worried about being next to die.

Just as the demon gives him MacFinn's address and he sends it on it's way he gets a call from Murphy to come to that very address because someone has been brutally murdered there.  The body is that of Kim.  MacFinn had a silver circle in a vault in the apartment, but it had been destroyed by someone and Kim, who likely met MacFinn through her environmental activities, tried to help him with the very circles she had asked Harry about. She had not been strong enough and did not have enough information, perhaps, to hold the circle and keep MacFinn in it and he escaped and killed her.  Dresden blames himself, of course, but the worst surprise is when Murphy pulls out Kim's drawing she had left at the restaurant and is beyond angry, because she believes that he has been involved in the whole thing from the beginning and has been lying to her. She slaps cuffs on him, takes his wizard gear, socks him on the jaw, and he is put into a cop car. He is too upset to put up a protest.  While sitting there, he does realize that there is no way MacFinn killed all of those people, especially the people last month or the one the other night, because the moon was not full.  

This is when the woman with the Alphas, who is acutally Tera West, MacFinn's fiance, shows up at the police car to spring him because MacFinn still needs a wizard to hold him in a circle for as long as the moon remains full. He does't want to leave, but he knows that MacFinn could be a huge threat and he is the only one that can actually do anything about it, so he leaves with her, still handcuffed. As they make a run for it, he is shot in the shoulder. She patches him up and takes him into the woods to one of MacFinn's special hiding places where she thinks he'll be. They find him and before he agrees to help Dresden demands answers. It seems he was right about MacFinn not being the one who killed the people last month or the other night and that someone sneaked into his house last month and destroyed his circle, which means that someone knew what he was and was possibly trying to set him up.   MacFinn also tells him that he begged Kim to leave when he realized that she wouldn't be able to hold the circle, but she refused to leave. When Harry mentions the names of those in the Alphas, however, MacFinn has no idea who they are. And when he had tried to do a soul gaze with Tera he found that she had no soul. What kind of wolf is she and what is she up to? Dresden tells MacFinn they need to move now, because while MacFinn thinks the FBI does not believe in werewolves and will not come to this forest to look for him, Harry knows Murphy will and at that moment, they hear Murphy and her men approaching. They split up and agree to meet at a gas station nearby. When Harry gets there he calls Susan to give them a ride. Tera shows up and tells him that they got MacFinn and Murphy has taken him to holding at the Special Investigations Unit building.

Harry sneaks into his place to get his potion that will make him blend into the background, some clothes that look like a janitor's, and his wizard's staff. He manages to get into the holding cells part of the building, but its too late to put MacFinn into a circle. He has already changed and is killing the prisoners. Harry has never been more scared in his life.  He does what he can to keep the beast from coming forward, but gets knocked back against the wall by the door to the opening of the cells.  Expecing to die now, the door flies open and Murphy comes in shooting silver bullets made from earrings her aunt gave her. The beast is bleeding now and has moved into another room. Murphy will not accept his help, though, and sends him away with another cop. A group of cops go after the beast.  Harry is in shock, beat up, bitten, bleeding, and running low on magic. The new cop puts him in Murphy's office where Harry finds his magical things that Murphy took from him. He realizes how he can stop the beast but he needs a stuffed animal and the new cop gives him a snoopy dog.  Harry is determined to make this right. When he goes out, there are dead and wounded cops lying around everywhere. Then he sees Murphy get her arm broken. He uses his magic to send the beast flying backward through many buildings, but that doesn't put him down. So, he forms a circle made of blood from the beast with snoopy in the middle and binds it's mouth, eyes, ears, and body from doing harm. This will keep the beast from also doing anything as well. In the chaos, he limps out of there and Susan and Tera take him away.

By this time, though, Harry has figured the whole thing out, mostly. To try to save himself, he blows out his magic, so to speak, and it's gone. Maybe for good. He is beaten to a pulp, shot, bitten, generally put through hell multiple times in this book, but he gets up and keeps going because someone has to. That's what I love about him. He knows that someone has to stand between the evil and the good out there.  But what is a wizard without magic? How can he stop the bad guys and keep MacFinn from killing anyone else without it? He is so determined to fix this whole thing by himself, because he blames himself for the death of all those cops and for Kim's death. He's not, of course, but if you were in his position you would probably feel just as guilty too.  Can he trust Tera? What is her agenda? What is she? Will he ever get Murphy's trust back, if any of them survive this? What about Susan? All these questions and more are answered. This is definitely not your typical werewolf book, though, and that's a really good thing. I so enjoy this series and must now get my hands on the next one.

 Sometimes I hate having a conscience, and a stupidly thorough sense of honor.

-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 3)
 There’s more magic in a baby’s first giggle than in any firestorm a wizard can conjure up, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 86)

I didn’t want to believe that killing was deep inside of me. I didn’t want to think about the part of me that took a dark joy in gathering all the power it could and using it as I saw fit, everything else be damned. There was power to be had in hatred too, in anger and in lust, in selfishness and in pride. And I knew that there was some dark corner of me that would enjoy using magic for killing—and then long for more. That was black magic, and it was easy to use. Easy and fun. Like Legos.
-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 86)

It’s all right to be afraid. You just don’t let it stop you from doing your job.
-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 94)
 Pain is to be endured. It ends or it does not.

-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 127)

I can’t be under arrest right now. I don’t have the time.
-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon  p 183)
 Instead, as my vision started to fade, I began to chant nonsense syllables in a low, musical refrain, focusing the energy I would need inside the circle I had closed around me. It wasn’t until later that I would realize that I was babbling a chant of “Ubriacha, Ubrius, ubium”, to the Peanuts theme music.

-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 192)
 I wanted to deal with my pursuers myself, to deal with my own mistake myself, and not to make an innocent bystander like Susan pay for it.  So I, uh, sort of threw myself out of the passenger seat of a moving car. Don’t look at me like that. I’m telling you, it made sense at the time.

-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 209)
 Okay, Harry, I told myself. Keep calm. Do not panic. All you need to do is to hold them here until the cops get here, and then you can bleed to death in peace. Or get a doctor. Whichever hurts less.

-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 215)
 There’s a point after which one cannot possibly continue doing complicated things like thinking and keeping one’s eyes open.

-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 220)

It figured someone else had been trying to kill me the whole while, and I hadn’t really noticed.
-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 253)

I know I don’t know a lot, compared to you. But I’m not stupid. I’ve got eyes. I see some things everyone else tries to pretend aren’t there. The vampire craze sweeping the nation. Why the hell shouldn’t there be some genuine vampires in it? Did you know that violent crimes have increased nearly forty percent in the last three years, Mr. Dresden? Murder alone has almost doubled, particularly in heavy urban areas and isolated rural areas. Abductions and disappearances have gone up nearly three hundred percent….I’m sort of a pessimist, Mr. Dresden. I think that people are almost too incompetent to hurt themselves so badly. I mean if criminals were trying, they couldn’t increase their production by three hundred percent. And I hear stories, read the tabloids sometimes.  So what if the supernatural world is making a comeback? What if that accounts for some of what is going on?... Somebody has to do something. I can. So I should.
--Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 263)
 I’m with the FBI. I don’t do anything that could be construed as funny, Mr. Dresden.

-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 297)
 It was eerie, the way he said the words—so matter-of-fact, calm, rational. There was no doubt in him, when he should have been afraid. Only fools and madmen know that kind of certainty. And I had already noted that he was no fool.

-Jim Butcher (Fool Moon p 299)
Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Fool-Moon-Book-Dresden-Files/dp/0451458125/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478275715&sr=8-1&keywords=fool+moon

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