I regard basically everything I might say about the story in Jim Butcher’s Dead Beat to be a spoiler, so let me instead just say a quick thing about the Dresden series in general.
So: What’s really surprising to me is that the series is getting better as it goes along. There aren’t a whole lot of series that get better all the way through book seven. At a hasty thought, I’m coming up with Pratchett’s Discworld (which had its best volumes at either 20 or 29 by Wikipedia Pete’s reckoning), and that’s both good company to be in, and well-boding for future installments. Like Pratchett, Butcher’s writing is getting sharper, his jokes getting funnier, his characters’ relationships getting deeper, and his world-building getting stronger.
Also, despite what you may consider the high praise that I’m lavishing on these books, I think I’ve been mentally underestimating them. Whenever I tear through a series quickly and addictively like this, I tend to think of it as something fluffy and light, and I guess these are — and yet, there’s not a damn thing wrong with them, and whenever they have a chance to fall into cheap cliche and comfortable ruts, they go just a little bit off the path and do something slightly less obvious. They’re clearly entertaining reading, but they’re quality entertaining, like Bujold at her prime or Weber without all the horrid politics.
All that said, I hate to hype things up, because then you’ll read the books and inevitably be all disappointed. My own expectations for the Dresden books (gleaned from unreliable sources and misapplied snark) was that they were trashy, guilty fun like those Anita Blake books are supposed to be, which I think has been a great help toward my being so impressed. What I really want to say is that these books are precisely as good as will make you read them, but no better — so, what I need you to do is to chalk up all my raving to weird idiosyncratic reactions on my part, but figure that there must be something interesting there, even if this sort of book isn’t really your thing, and that they’re worth checking out and might be kinda okay, you guess.
Easy, right? Now, on to book eight for me.