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Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

Dead Beat

by Jim Butcher

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Dresden Files (7)

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There is a zomie t-rex in this one!!! :))) review soon ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |

Cross-posted to Knite Writes


When we last left Harry Dresden, he’d gotten the crap burned out of his left hand, found out he had a brother, and realized that the fallen angel Lasciel was somehow still affecting him even though he thought he’d sealed her away. (See: Blood Rites review)

This book starts with him getting blackmailed by the Black Court Vampire Mavra (who’s responsible for the burned hand) into finding a necromancy book called The Word of Kemmler. This is probably the least dangerous/devastating/painful thing that happens to Harry for the rest of the novel.

Prepare yourselves.

So, basically, the disciples of the evil necromancer Kemmler have come to Chicago to find the Word, perform some kind of spell to ascend to godhood, and kill thousands of people in the process. You know, the usual. Thing is, they aren’t working together. Harry runs into them at different times, nearly getting pummeled to death by the fightingly powerful Cowl, having his mind invaded by the body-stealing Corpsetaker, and being chased by zombies raised with the help of the fedora-wearing Grevane (and his sidekick, whom Harry dubs “Liver Spots”).

Harry ends up getting a sidekick of his own in this one — the little mortician Butters, whom Harry frequently uses as a doctor. Poor Butters almost gets kidnapped and killed by Grevane near the beginning, and Harry is forced to let him tag along for the rest of the book. Good thing, too. He’s a pretty resourceful guy.

While Harry’s dodging attacks left and right throughout the story, he manages to figure out how to summon the Erlking, the Faerie guy that leads the Wild Hunt, which Kemmler’s apprentices intend to use to raise hundreds of warrior spirits so they can devour them for the god-ascension ritual. Harry attempts to bind the Erlking to stop him from raising the Hunt, but Cowl shows up and breaks Harry’s concentration, releasing the Erlking on Chicago.

At one point, Harry realizes he needs some help this time, so he calls the Wardens for assistance. Reluctantly. However, the Wardens are only able to send a handful of people, some of whom are injured. Harry, to his horror, learns that the Red Court launched a major offensive just a few days before and, through the betrayal of someone in the White Council, managed to wipe out over 70% of the Wardens.

With his battered Warden allies heading off Kemmler’s disciplines, Harry goes to find the Word so he can figure out how to stop the ritual. He goes to a woman with a photographic memory named Shiela (that he’s been flirting with throughout the book), only to discover (thanks to Butters) that Shiela is in fact an illusion created by Lasciel, who wants to help Harry (while, of course, tempting him to the dark side). Infuriated, Harry seals her away in his mind.

He and Butters manage to track down the Word without Lasciel’s help, but Harry only has it for minutes before Grevane catches up to him. Turns out Grevane’s sidekick Liver Spots is, unfortunately, Cassius, the Fallen host Harry beat the crap out of in Death Masks. Cassius brutalizes Harry and tries to torture him to death, but Butters and Mouse (the dog Harry acquired in Blood Rites) manage to take him down.

Injured and without the book, Harry is forced to unseal Lasciel and use her perfect memory to recall the instructions in the Word for the god-ascension ritual — called the Darkhallow. Realizing he needs something surrounded by necromancy magic to get inside the area where the ritual will be taking place, but knowing he can’t break the Laws of Magic to do it, Harry comes up with a very Harry-esque plan:

He creates a zombie T-Rex and rides it into battle.

No, I’m not kidding.

The rest of the battle plays out like expected — Harry catches up to the Wardens and saves them from an army of zombies and ghosts, kills the Corpsetaker with his trusty .44, disrupts the ritual, takes down Grevane, and at the last possible moment, gets a hit on Cowl, causing the vortex of ghostly energy to backfire and tear the dude to shreds.

At the end of the day, the Wardens head back to battle with the Red Court — well, all but Harry, who was forcefully drafted into their ranks — Chicago is saved, and Harry, now with a fallen angel on his shoulder…well…

Harry lives to snark another day.

The End.

Cue Sequel.


My Take

This is probably the most epic installment of the series yet, and that’s saying something. Butcher manages to take characters from several books ago — Thomas, the Alphas, Butters, Morgan — and integrate them into the plot line in a way that keeps them relevant across time and lets them develop further as characters in their own right. It’s really hard to take so large a cast of characters and keep all of them relevant and constantly developing as the overarching story plot progresses, but Butcher has shown he is very good at it in the past — and this book is probably his best show of skill yet.

Along with the recurring characters, we yet again have a host of new characters brought in to provide us with fresh powers, motivations, and expanded world-building, and like usual, Butcher’s new characters are very well thought out, three-dimensional, and interesting. No flat, stereotypical antagonists here. No meaningless one-off side characters that don’t add anything to the story verse. All of Butcher’s characters fit flawlessly together in this complex world he’s built over the past seven books, and I admire his efforts to keep them all interacting so smoothly. Impressive feat.

Once more, Butcher has wrapped the overarching storyline around the individual book plot in a spectacular way — he never, for a second, forgets what has happened in previous books, and he interweaves the natural progression of past events into the current events in ways that realistically impact his characters at this present point in time. The world never shrinks. The plot of a single book never branches off entirely from the plot of the whole. Everything builds upon itself, and every book gives you a broader view of a vast and complex world that started off as nothing but “Chicago with a wizard” way back in Storm Front.

Great work again, Butcher.



No change from the last six books. Butcher’s a pretty consistent guy.


Is It Worth Reading?

You better damn well read this one. Yes! Go for it.



4/5 ( )
  ClaraCoulson | Nov 16, 2015 |
I loved this book. It has everything I love and lacks exactly the thing I dislike in this series (Murphy and her self-righteous attitude). I still remember how she ruined the second book for me.
It took me quite a while to start reading Dead Beat because of the blurb. Since the starting point is a blackmail connected to Murphy I expected her to play a greater role here. Fortunately that's not the case. Murphy lovers will be disappointed to find that she appears only in two scenes, one in the beginning and the other in the end.

As for the the rest of the book, it is perfect. The antagonists are strong, the mystery, the plot and its pace are perfect. I didn't experience a single moment of boredom. Even the side characters' growth (Butters, for instance) is believable.
Thomas is there too. What's not to like?
( )
  Irena. | Nov 3, 2015 |
*THUD* This one left me plumb tuckered out!! My favorite, of the Dresden Files, so far (and that's sayin' a lot!). Again, rife with blood'n'gore . . not for the feint-of-heart! On the upside, it's also filled to overflowing with excitement, spells, vampires, ghouls, blasting rods, black leather, wizardry and necromancy (eww!). As an aside, if anyone has the temerity to suggest that I have a crush on Bob the Skull, I'll deny it!! ;) ( )
  idajo2 | Nov 3, 2015 |
Six-word review: Halloween nasties challenge Harry and friends.

Extended review:

He just can't help himself. Jim Butcher. Like a hungry vampire, he gets hold of a word or expression and he just can't stop himself from using it over and over and over again. Repetitions swarm like swarms of swarming insects.

I can't be the only one who's bothered by this. Maybe, though, I'm one among a small number who make compulsive notes about it. Old editorial habits do die hard.

In the seventh tale of the Dresden Files series, which is replete with snarls (47 times) and growls (32) and numerous other animal-noise substitutes for "said," Butcher is plagued by hordes of word zombies, mindlessly commanded to appear in force.

And they do seem to be unstoppable.

Butcher has shed the very odd "quirked an eyebrow" that quirked several earlier volumes. Now eyebrows, which seem to have a life of their own, are constantly arching as if of their own volition: someone (usually Harry Dresden) arched an eyebrow (just one eyebrow) 25 times.

In fact, there's a lot of ocular activity. Someone blinked 54 times, 56 if you include "blinking." (I do most of my word checking and counting using Amazon's marvelous "search inside" feature; I don't actually log them all by hand. Honestly I don't.)

And despite all the noisy vocalizations, for some reason the author gets a run on "quietly" in dialogue tags ("he said quietly"). Not only does he use it 62 times--an average of once every eight and a quarter pages--but it appears six times on two facing pages (356 and 357) and four more over the next few.

Maybe it's unusual enough for anything to happen quietly in a Dresden book that it must be remarked on again and again.

Dammit, though, he gets the novels written--averaging more than one a year since the first of the Dresden Files series came out in 2000. If he doesn't take the time to go back and comb the text, refining it with judicious excisions and elegant variations, well, maybe that's the price of churning them out at a steady rate while compulsive types like me can't actually write to the end of anything and call it finished.

And I keep reading them, despite these quibbles, because they're entertaining escapism, done well enough to hold my attention and not insult my intelligence.

That's a kind of repetition I can applaud. ( )
2 vote Meredy | Sep 21, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jim Butcherprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chong, VincentIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marsters, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my son. The best thing that ever happened to me. I love you, Short-stuff.
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On the whole, we're a murderous race.
From Morgan, this was the equivalent of Emperor Constantine converting to Christianity. He was almost admitting that he had been wrong. I reached into my pocket, pulled out a penny, and dropped it to the floor.
"What was that for?" he asked.
"I'm just making sure gravity is still online," I said.
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Book description
Paranormal investigations are Harry Dresden's business, and Chicago is his beat as he tried to bring law and order to a world of wizards and monsters that exists alongside everyday life. And though most inhabitants of the Windy City don't believe in magic, the Special Investigations department of the Chicago PD knows better.

Karrin Murphy is the head of the SI and Harry's good friend. So when a killer vampire threatens to destroy Murphy's reputation unless Harry does her bidding, he has no choice. The vampire wants the Word of Kemmier [whatever that is] and all the power that comes with it. Now Harry is in a race against time - and six merciless necromancers - to find the Word before Chicago experiences a Halloween night to wake the dead ...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 045146091X, Mass Market Paperback)

When a killer vampire threatens to destroy head of Special Investigations Karrin Murphy's reputation unless Harry delivers the powerful Word of Kemmler to her, he has no choice. Now Harry is in a race against time to find the Word before Chicago experiences a Halloween night to wake the dead.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:40 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Chicago wizard Harry Dresden rushes to solve the riddle of a vampire's demand for the Word of Keppler in order to save the city, and his friend Karrin Murphy, head of the city's Special Investigations department, from the threat of supernatural horror.… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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