BLOOD RITES

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This is a good time to be a fan of gritty modern fantasy, and Butcher's sixth entry in the Dresden Files is an excellent way to top off a month of stellar offerings. Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, takes on a case as a favor to his vampire friend Thomas and finds himself undercover on the set of an adult film. Women close to the film's director are dying in bizarre accidents, and Harry is soon battling an entropy curse. Meanwhile, Thomas' family comes a little too close for comfort, and there's still that pesky matter of the war Harry started between the wizards of the White Court and the most fearsome of the vampire clans.

In the works as a television pilot for the Sci Fi Channel, the Dresden Files is turning into a must-read series. Fans will relish the details that unfold about Harry's mysterious past, which Butcher cleverly ties into the current case, but the stand-alone plot won't confuse new readers. The usual assortment of supernatural baddies keeps both Harry and the reader on their toes.

A dark series to begin with, this entry takes it into even blacker territory, but there are moments of light and levity, thanks in part to Harry's sarcastic wit and a stowaway sacred temple puppy. (Aug., 384 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum