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Storm_Front_(novel)

Storm Front (novel)

Storm Front is a 2000 novel by science fiction and fantasy author Jim Butcher. It is the first novel in The Dresden Files, his first published series that follows the character of Harry Dresden, professional wizard.

This book is published by the Penguin Putnam company with the ISBN 0-4514-5781-1

Plot

It has been a slow couple of weeks at Harry Dresden's office, when he receives a phone call from a woman named "Monica." She asks Dresden to help find her husband. Since Dresden's broke and about to be evicted, he schedules an appointment with her at his office, so they can discuss her case in more detail.

As he's heading out to lunch, Dresden gets a call from Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, director of Special Investigations (SI) for the Chicago Police Department. Since working as a consultant with the SI branch is his main source of income, Dresden hurries to the crime scene--a room at the Madison Hotel. He hopes to make it back for his appointment with Monica. He leaves a note just in case she arrives early. Detective Carmichael, Murphy's partner, shows him the bodies of two gruesomely murdered people, intertwined in an act of passion. The man was Tommy Tomm, a bodyguard for "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone; and the woman was Jennifer Stanton, an escort from the Velvet Room--a high-priced gentleman's club. Dresden knows it's run by Madam Bianca, a vampire of the Red Court. After accepting Murphy's case, Dresden tries to make it back for his appointment. He's stopped by a couple of thugs and forced into a limo occupied by Gentleman Johnny Marcone.

Marcone says he only wants to talk; and then, he'll take Dresden wherever he was going. Marcone offers Dresden his usual $1,200 per diem to not investigate the murder of Tommy Tomm. Dresden refuses. Marcone offers double per diem for Dresden to do nothing. Insulted and angered, Dresden refuses and unknowingly locks into a soulgaze with Marcone. Strangely, Dresden comes out of the "gaze" more shaken than Marcone. Amused, Marcone keeps his word and lets Dresden off at his office.

Dresden is just in time to meet with Monica. She wants Dresden find her husband, Victor Sells. He'd been dabbling with magic and he's been missing for three days. She came to Dresden, because he seemed knowledgeable about magic and would believe her. Dresden agrees to take her case. Monica gives him a hefty cash retainer and an envelope containing a dried scorpion. It could be useful as an arcane connection to find Victor. As Monica is leaving, she suggests that Victor might be hiding at their secluded lake house.

Dresden pays his rent and other bills with the retainer. He treats himself to a steak dinner at McAnally's, a small tavern where practitioners and other members of the magical community go to relax. Susan Rodriguez, a reporter from the Midwester Arcane, interrogates him about the double murder. Not getting anywhere, she asks him out on a date. Dresden accepts a date for Saturday night at 9 PM.

Dresden investigates the Sells' lake house. He only finds a canister of film. Hoping for more information, he enlists the help of a faerie known as Toot-toot (Toot). He asks Toot to find out what happened at this house. After consulting with other faeries, Toot relates that pizza was delivered to a group of "sporting" humans. After Toot leaves, Warden Morgan appears, accusing Dresden of breaking the Fourth Law of Magic. It's punishable by death. After a brief argument, Morgan lets him go on a technicality, because the law only applies to the enthrallment of mortals, not to faeries.

Dresden heads home to start working on Murphy's case. He consults Bob, an air spirit of great wisdom and knowledge, who resides in a skull. After a bit of potion making in his sub-basement laboratory, Dresden meets with Madam Bianca, the owner of the Velvet Room. Without preamble, Bianca accuses Dresden of killing Jennifer Stanton. The situation quickly escalates into violence. Bianca loses their little duel. She vows revenge upon Dresden not only for killing Jennifer Stanton, but for her humiliating defeat. She gives him the cell number for Linda Randall, one of her former girls who was close to Jennifer. After some difficulty, Dresden hooks up with Linda. She's a limo chauffeur--and companion--for the Beckitts. They arrive while Dresden is pumping her for information on Jennifer. He slips Linda his card. Getting back to work, Linda drives off with the Beckitts.

Back on the Sells case, Dresden locates the only pizza place that could have delivered to Victor's lake house. Dresden discovers that someone had called earlier and threatened to kill the delivery driver, if he talked to anyone. When Dresden gets back to his apartment, he's attacked by someone threatening him to stay off the case.

The next morning, Dresden goes to Lt. Murphy's office. He has a literal run-in with a man tripping on "ThreeEye." The drug is the real deal. It opens the mystical Third Eye to give Mundanes a brief dose of wizard "Sight." Now, Dresden's got the motive. Dresden tells Murphy the couple was murdered in a gang war by the makers of the ThreeEye drug. Tommy's death was a warning to Marcone and Jennifer was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dresden also explains that it would take more than one (up to a coven of at least thirteen) dark arts users to cast such a murderous spell. Murphy wants names. When Dresden says he doesn't have any, Murphy gets tough. Dresden's body picks that moment to betray him, falling unconscious due to lack of sleep and the head injury he sustained during the attack. Lt. Murphy relents. She drives him home and drops him off. Just before Dresden goes to sleep, Linda contacts him. She volunteers to tell him what he wants to know; and after that, who knows what could happen. Still dazed, he makes a date with her for Saturday at 9 PM.

A thunderstorm awakens Dresden. He realizes that he made dates with Susan and Linda for that very night--at the very same time. Susan arrives first. As Dresden is showering, Susan answers a knock at the door. Instead of Linda, it's a toad-like demon. It attacks them by throwing electricity and acidic spit. After an intense battle, which destroys his apartment, Dresden and Susan escape using an escape potion in the Lab. Overwhelmed by the experience and the magical potions (she had accidentally drunk a love potion several minutes before the escape potion), Susan passes out. Outside his apartment, Dresden is confronted by the image of a warlock, a renegade wizard, who killed Tommy and Jennifer. He sent the toad-demon. And now, he's going to kill Dresden.

Angry, tired, and desperate, Dresden siphons energy from the storm to send feedback through the warlock's image, hurting him and ending the transmission. Then, Dresden siphons energy from the storm to explode the toad-demon. Just as he thinks he's safe, Morgan reappears. Morgan tells Dresden that the White Council will convene in two days, to try Dresden for violating the First Law of Magic: the murders of Jennifer Stanton and Tommy Tomm. The punishment is death. Morgan can hardly wait to execute their verdict.

At that moment, Lt. Murphy sends a patrol car to pick up Dresden and bring him to another murder--the same MO as Tommy and Jennifer. Susan regains consciousness. She tells Dresden that "This...is the worst night of my life[....]But it's going to make a fantastic story." Susan drives off and Dresden goes with the police. At the crime scene, Dresden recognizes the murdered woman as Linda Randall, his other 9 PM date. This confirms his belief that the warlock is siphoning storm energy to kill in the same manner as he used the storm energy to explode the toad-demon. Murphy found Dresden's business card in the murdered woman's apartment. She demands information. To protect Murphy, Dresden doesn't tell her about Susan, the toad-demon, or Marcone. Murphy knows he's withholding evidence. She gives him until the next morning to come clean, or go to jail.

As Dresden leaves Linda's apartment, he's attacked. The attacker cuts a piece of his hair. Now, Dresden's in real trouble. His hair can be used to direct a spell against him. His attacker was one of Marcone's goons. During the scuffle, Dresden clawed his attacker. Scraping the man's blood from under his fingernails, Dresden casts a tracking spell. The blood spell leads to Marcone's club, the Varsity.

Dresden trashes the Varsity in a grand entrance. He confronts the bodyguard. Before Marcone can intervene, Dresden tells Marcone about the stolen hair, explaining that the bodyguard had sold out Marcone and arranged Tommy's and Jennifer's death. Trapped like a rat, the bodyguard tries to shoot his way out. Mr. Hendricks drills the bodyguard. There's nothing that Marcone and Dresden can learn from the corpse. And, the corpse doesn't have Dresden's hair. The warlock probably has it. Feeling trapped like a rat, himself, Dresden goes to Linda Randall's place to re-visit the crime scene and get some sleep. He finds a film canister that matches the one from the lake house. He decides to sleep on it. He knows that during the next storm, he's going to die just like Tommy, Jennifer, and Linda.

After a night of uninterrupted sleep, Dresden is about to leave Linda's apartment, when someone enters. The man identifies himself as Donny Wise, a photographer Linda hired. He's looking for a film canister. Dresden will give him the film, if Donny spills the beans. Donny tells Dresden there was an orgy on the night the pizza delivery man caught him snapping photos on the porch. Wise photographed Linda Randall and a lot of other people. He assumes they were for blackmail. Dresden lets Donny go, but not before melting the film, in case Donny decides to try to sell the pictures for a profit.

Something about Jennifer has been bothering him. Dresden goes to Monica Sells' house. Monica confesses that Jennifer Stanton was her sister. Yes, Victor had used the energy of sex and lust to gain power and become a stronger sorcerer. Then, he began making the ThreeEye drug. The Beckitts were more than willing to finance his drug empire, to push Marcone out of the market--anything to hurt Marcone. The Beckitts blamed Marcone for the death of their daughter. But Victor could never make enough of the drug; that among other things, just pushed him over the edge. Monica explained that Victor killed Jennifer, because she had threatened to go to Marcone. Tommy Tomm died, because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, Monica is worried about her children. As Dresden is leaving, Monica's little girl asks if he's one of the good guys, because "[W]e really need a good guy."

Back in his office, Murphy is waiting to arrest Dresden. Dresden calls Murphy, first trying her office, then his own, to let her know what he found out. He warns her not to open his desk drawers, because "it could be dangerous." She is still angry and no longer trusts him. Opening a drawer, Murphy discovers the scorpion. It re-animates, grows, and stings Murphy. Dresden rushes to his office to find her incapacitated by the poison. Single-minded as always, she handcuffs Dresden, when he tries to help her. Battling the scorpion while handcuffed to the semi-conscious Murphy, Dresden smashes the car-sized scorpion between the elevator roof and the top of the elevator shaft. Leaving Murphy in the care of the paramedics, Dresden gears up for a showdown with Victor Sells.

Returning to the lakehouse, Dresden saves his own life by interrupting Victor's death ritual. An epic battle ensues, where his opponents include "an evil sorcerer...two crazies with guns" (the Beckitts), half-dozen rapidly growing scorpions, and the re-summoned toad-demon. Dresden wins, but he's trapped inside the burning lake house. Warden Morgan drags him out of the fire. Morgan despises Dresden. But he witnessed the fight with Victor; and now, he knows that Dresden is innocent. For that reason, Morgan cannot let Dresden die. It wouldn't be right.

Plot points introduced

  • Soulgaze: An event where a wizard locks eyes with another human (and only another human, as faeries, vampires etc. don't have human souls) and sees a piece of their souls. It is normally a daunting experience. Later books reveal that the experience is different based on the people involved. Some wizards experience the soulgaze like they would a work of art. Some hear, rather than see, the soulgaze, and some, like Dresden, see symbolic representations of who the other person is.
  • Laws of Magic: A list of seven laws held by the White Council, that must be upheld by all wizards. Breaking one of these laws is punishable by death.
  • Sight: The ability for wizards to see what is being looked beyond its mundane 'normal' view, and also to see the spirit, soul and true nature of persons. It's in brilliant color and will never fade from their minds, no matter how much time passes or how much it is done. This must be used carefully, or the wizard could be driven insane. Dresden refers to the experience as opening and closing "the Third Eye".
  • Death Curse: Briefly mentioned is that a wizard has the ability to perform a death curse, though this idea is not expanded upon until later novels in the series.

Characters

Characters introduced in this novel

  • Harry Dresden: The protagonist; a professional wizard; and he’s in the phone book.
  • Monica Sells: One of Dresden's clients and the wife of Warlock Victor Sells.
  • Lieutenant Karrin Murphy: Director of Special Investigations, Chicago PD.
  • Detective Ron Carmichael: Murphy's partner at SI
  • Jennifer Stanton (deceased): An employee of the Velvet Room and Monica Sells' sister
  • Tommy Tomm (deceased): A bodyguard for Gentleman Johnny Marcone
  • Gentleman Johnny Marcone: The crime lord of Chicago
  • Hendricks: A bodyguard for Gentleman Johnny Marcone
  • Mac: The owner-operator of McAnally's tavern
  • Susan Rodriguez: A reporter at the Midwester Arcane, and Dresden's love interest
  • Toot-toot: A dewdrop faerie who helps Dresden
  • Warden Donald Morgan: A law enforcement warden for the White Council, who has a mandate to aid the innocent and punish the guilty.
  • Mister: Dresden's 30+ pound house cat
  • Bob: An intelligent air spirit who resides inside a skull in Dresden's sub-basement laboratory.
  • Madame Bianca St. Claire: The owner of the Velvet Room and a Red Court vampire.
  • Linda Randall (deceased:) A former employee of the Velvet Room; the Beckitt’s chauffeur; friend and sometime lover to Jennifer Stanton.
  • The Beckitts: A rich couple who provide money for Victor Sells
  • Donny Wise: A photographer for a local adult magazine
  • Victor "Shadowman" Sells: The villain of the novel; a warlock; and Monica Sells' husband.

Storm Front in Other Media

  • Storm Front has also been recorded as an audio book. Narrated by James Marsters, it is also available on Jim Butcher's website, along with mp3 audio samples.
  • The plot of the novel was also condensed down to a 90-minute prospective television pilot for the SciFi Channel. Though the television movie was not used as the pilot episode, it was edited in half and used later in the first season.
  • The novel will be adapted into a comic book mini series. The first issue is set to come out in October. It's length will be in between 12 to 18 issues in length.

External links

  • Storm Front The website summary of Storm Front and the first two chapters to preview.

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