Book Review: Jim Butcher’s Death Masks

Posted January 12, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jim Butcher’s Death Masks

Death Masks


Jim Butcher

It is part of the The Dresden Files #5 series and is a urban fantasy that was published by ROC on August 5, 2003 and has 451 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Mean Streets, Changes, Side Jobs, Ghost Story, Dark and Stormy Knights, Aftertaste, Hex Appeal, Welcome to the Jungle, Dangerous Women, Storm Front, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Fool Moon, Cold Days, Skin Game, Blood Rites, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor, Shadowed Souls

Fifth in The Dresden Files urban fantasy series revolving around Harry Dresden, a wizard private investigator and world saver. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the The Dresden Files books on my website.

My Take

It’s funny enough to open with Harry on a talk show, but then Harry opens…his mouth and spews forth truths, which only makes it funnier! Surprisingly, Mortimer is good on the show and it’s good cover for what Harry needs.

I’m with Harry, Ortega needs to work on his negotiating skills. That could be an interesting business class: Negotiating with Vampires and Faeries.

Karrin is trusting Harry. And while Susan trusts Harry, she can’t be with him. She’s got the right reasons, but it’s still sad for them both.

Nah, doesn’t matter how often I read that scene. It’s just plain stupid for Harry to insist on an explanation in that alley. It’s driven him nuts often enough, why on earth would he do it to Michael?

Damn, Butcher has got one heck of an imagination with his depictions of the Denarian demons. He’s also brought in a pack of new characters besides the Denarians from “Ivy” with Kincaid to the other Knights to Snoozy Martin who is driving Harry crazy with jealousy. It’s complex with multiple, multiple layers — a Butcher classic.

I gotta wonder if we’ll ever learn more about the Chicago PD powers-that-be and if they have a connection with the vampires or Marcone. It’s gotta be something the way they keep slapping Murphy down. This time, she may lose her job.

Thomas may not be able to help Harry, but watching him as Ortega’s second is too funny.

Oh man. See, that’s what’s wrong with the Catholic Church and confession. Say you’re sorry and you’re all cleaned up and ready to sin again. At least Harry didn’t have to abide by the rules — and I loved that Sanya and Michael got into the spirit of it afterwards! At least it shows that they’re human!! And that crack about the phone! Oh, ROFL, damn I’m mean.

It’s Saturday-afternoon, or should it be a Sunday-school-afternoon?, at the movies with the train chases and our own evil Snidely Whiplash.

The Story

It’s Harry and Mortimer waiting for the show to begin, literally, as they’re both guests on The Larry Fowler Show in a segment on “Witchcraft and Wizardry — Phony or Fabulous?”

It’s one of the other guests that’s a problem, and he wants to fight Harry in a duel to the death. Harry’s.

The Characters

Harry “Hoss” Dresden is a wizard who manages to fit in the usual private investigator cases between his saving the world. Bob the Skull is a spiritual entity housed inside a human skull; he has an encyclopedic knowledge of magic. Margaret was Harry’s mother’s name. Mister is Harry’s ginormous cat while Mouse is the rescued temple food dog.

Special Investigations
Lieutenant Karrin Murphy heads up Special Investigations (SI) for the Chicago PD, well, unless they’re trying to shut her down harder. It’s where they throw cops who get out of line. Waldo Butters is an assistant medical examiner who almost got tossed to the curb when he insisted the bodies after xx, xx, were humanoid, and not human. Detective Rudolph is a brownnoser who wants out of SI.

The Fellowship of St. Giles
The Fellowship of St. Giles tries to help people the Red Court has harmed. Susan Rodriguez was Harry’s girlfriend and a reporter for the Midwestern Arcane before she pushed too hard and crashed a vampire ball. Now Harry’s trying to figure out a way to bring her back. The very bland Martin, Susan’s current partner, has his own agenda.

The Knights of the Cross
Shiro Yoshimo carries Fidelacchius, was Michael’s teacher, and will be Harry’s second, Sanya, who repented, and Michael Carpenter with Amoracchius wield the Three. Michael is married to the Harry-hating Charity while their kids include the very teenaged Molly with her rebellious ways right down to Harry’s namesake.

Father Forthill is with Saint Mary of the Angels church. Ulsharavas is an oracle spirit. Ebenezar McCoy was one of Harry’s teachers and is on the Senior Council. The Merlin is the leader. The Archive may be a little girl (Harry names her Ivy), but only in appearance. She is the living memory of mankind. Kincaid is her appointed driver-cum-babysitter. MacAnnally’s is a tavern for supernatural users, and it’s run by Mac. It’s also been declared a neutral zone.

Mortimer Lindquist is an ectomancer who communes with ghosts. Father Vincent is a representative from the Vatican and is their leading scholar on witchcraft and magic. Dr. Paolo Ortega is with the University of Brazil at Rio de Janiero and a “world-renowned researcher and debunker of the supernatural”.

Larry Fowler is the TV host for The Larry Fowler Show, and I get the impression the show is right up there with Jerry Springer.

The demon boys, the Order of the Blackened Denarians
The Denarians are Fallen who tempt greedy mortals with one of the thirty coins Judas was paid. Ursiel is a Fallen with a bear shape; Rasmussen was his mortal. Nicodemus is the head boy with Anduriel as his patron. Nick wears the noose that Judas used to hang himself. And he packs a whole lotta power. He’s also killed hundreds of Knights. Chauncy. Dierdre is Nicodemus’ daughter, and they have a very twisted relationship, besides the fact that she turns into a demon with razor blade-sharp tentacles. Quintus Cassius does the fake repent of his liaison with Saluriel.

Gentleman Johnny Marcone heads up the crime syndicate in Chicago. Hendricks is one of John Marcone’s thugs. Miss Gard is a new employee.

The Vampires
The vampires are divided into three courts: the White, Red, and Black.

The White Court
The White Court vampires feed on psychic energies, emotions, lusts. Thomas Raith is its king’s bastard son. Justine is his girlfriend-cum-victim.

The Red Court
Duke Paolo Ortega is their warlord and quite sneaky with his true plans. Thomas Raith will be his second.

Gaston LaRouche is the ringleader for a group of thieves called the Churchmice. Anna Valmont and Francisca Garcia are part of the ring. Nick Christian at Ragged Angel Investigations was Harry’s boss when Harry first arrived in Chicago.

The Cover and Title

The cover is dark and gets darker in its center. There’s a feeling of being underground, even if it is an underground with giant white fluted pillars, with the only light coming from Harry’s staff. Harry himself is in his standard black, walking away from us, his long duster flaring out around his legs.

The title refers to the Death Masks of the Denarians as well as Ortega’s trickery.