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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to the Collected Works
Thomas Middleton, Gary Taylor
Progress: 92/1183 pages
The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry
Robert Chandler
The Uncertain Land and Other Poems
Patrick O'Brian
Progress: 8/160 pages
The Poems and Plays of John Masefield
John Masefield
Progress: 78/534 pages
Poems Selected
Emily Dickinson, Ted Hughes
Progress: 4/50 pages
Selected Poems
U A Fanthorpe
Progress: 18/160 pages
The Penguin Book of Scottish Verse
Mick Imlah, Robert Crawford
Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2
Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 133/789 pages
The Essential Shakespeare
Ted Hughes
Progress: 82/259 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages

Storm Front, Jim Butcher

Storm Front  - Jim Butcher

Philip Marlowe pastiche mixed with what the author himself says is a hodge-podge of genuine magical practices mixed together. This is unfortunate because hard-boiled detectives are not terribly interesting these days unless they bring something new to the game. It was obvious that the new thing was meant to be the magic, but in turn that brings nothing interesting either through neither being an original take on how it could work, nor a detailed exploration of what if some genuine belief system really worked. The mystery also had predictable elements. The saving grace was the protracted denouement that dispensed with the wise-cracks and got on with an exciting show-down.


This is a debut novel and I've been told Butcher improves (variously between books 4 and 7 of this series) which is projected to last for 20 volumes. I think it's more than 3/4 of the way there already. My feeling is that the climax of this book made up for a lot of the previous sins and I would definitely read more, though I'm inclined to try one of his other series to see if he really has got better with practice. On this showing, Malcolm Pryce's Louis Knight series is a better modern pastiche (or send-up) of the hard-boiled detective genre and Stross's Laundry Files or Lukyanenko's Watch series are both hugely more original urban fantasies.