With the Dresden Files series, author Jim Butcher, born and still based in Independence, Missouri, gives the private-eye novel a playful, magical makeover. Chicago detective Harry Dresden lands somewhere on the fiction continuum between hard-boiled Sam Spade and the wisecracking Weasley twins. He’s a wizard-for-hire who brandishes a wand instead of a revolver. Dresden swears often, but his favorite oath is “hell’s bells.” And his sex-obsessed confidant, Bob, is a talking skull possessed with “a spirit of intellect.” At the end of 2008’s Small Favor, which debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times Best Sellers list, Dresden emerged from several rounds of intense supernatural warfare looking like “a raccoon that has been run over by a locomotive.” In the just-out Turn Coat, Dresden risks further abuse by pursuing a traitor within the White Council of Wizards. While that premise might sound a bit fantasy-insular, Dresden’s narration, all quips and casual descriptions, keeps things light and accessible. Turn Coat is the 11th Dresden book, but each installment supplies enough cursory background to facilitate reading without prerequisites. Butcher discusses the new book at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library (4801 Main, 816-701-3407) at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free. See kclibrary.org.
Thu., April 16, 6:30 p.m., 2009