Dresden Files Fool Moon Ch31

The barrel of Denton’s gun looked bigger and deeper than the national debt

Harry, sometimes you need to just accept you’re not very good at metaphors, noir-style or not.

His grey eyes glittered down the sights at me, and I saw the decision to pull the trigger flash across them. Before he could, I met his eyes hard, shoved myself out toward him with a sudden screaming pain in my temples, and locked him into a soulgaze.

This suggests the soulgaze isn’t involuntary at all. Harry was staring just fine into his eyes to describe it without triggering anything, then locking eyes on purpose makes the soulgaze hit instantly when previously it’s always required a few seconds to kick in.

I assume we’re supposed to read it as Harry forcing it to happen, but for him to have even that much control goes against what we were told before. And given it hurts it seems forcing it to happen is the same as forcing any other magic to happen, which means that the excuse for this, that Harry had no other options but mindfuck, is undermined.

Oh, also Harry whines that Denton’s soul probably sucks and may not be any better than death, because he whines constantly.

Try to imagine a place, a beautifully ordered structure, like the Parthenon or Monticello. Imagine that everything is balanced, everything is in proportion, everything is smooth and secure. Stick in blue skies overhead, green grass all around, puffy white clouds, flowers, and children running and playing.
Now, add a couple hundred years of wear and tear to it. Dull the edges. Round the corners a little. Imagine water stains, and worn spots where the wind has gotten to it. Turn the skies dirty brown with smog. Kill the grass, and replace it with tall, ugly ragweed. Ditch the flowers, and leave in their places only dried up, skeletal rose vines. Age the male children into adult winos, faces haggard with despair and self-loathing and flushed with drink, and the girls into tired, jaded strumpets, faces hard, eyes cold and calculating. Give the place of beauty an aura of rage and feral abandon, where the people who walk about watch the shadows like hungry cats, waiting to pounce.
And then, after all of that, after all the cares and trials and difficulties of the world a cop inhabits have been fairly represented, coat everything in a thick, sticky black sludge that smells like swamps and things that attract dun-colored flies. Paint it on, make it a coating that emphasizes the filth, the decay, the despair all around, that brings out that painful decline to the utmost degree. The sludge makes things stronger, and more bitter, more rotten, more putrid all at the same time.

Remember, everyone, only boys have drug problems. Girls and only girls become whores who are terrible because they’re calculating about sex.

You know, maybe if the cops are having so much trouble with the whinos and strumpets they could leave them alone and go deal with actual crime. Why is FBI guy’s world sound like it’s based on beat cop life anyway?

Anyway point is Denton somehow lived a noir life despite it being 2000ish and between that and the belts Harry is again certain that for real none of the original guy is left and it’s so okay to murder him.

There was an image of him kneeling at someone’s feet as a wolf-fur belt was passed into his hands, and then it was gone.

That sounds incredibly relevant. I realize you never follow up anything, but are you at least going to tell Morgan about it later?

Anyway, Harry’s been very emotional recently, so let’s reestablish that he’s such a fucking badass:

Denton stared at me as the soulgaze broke and we were released. He wasn’t reacting well to whatever it was he had seen inside of me. His face had gone white, and his hand was trembling, the barrel of the gun wavering every which way. He lifted his other hand to mop beads of cold sweat away from his face.
“No,” Denton said, white showing all around the grey irises of his eyes. “No, wizard.” He raised his gun. “I don’t believe in hell. I won’t let you.” He screamed then, at the top of his lungs. “I won’t let you!”

He’s so much more hardcore than the FBI guy who also eats people.

But don’t worry, mobster dad is here to save Harry’s stupid ass again. Marcone reminds everyone, again, that the deal wasn’t to kill Harry and I have to say, this book’s done a much better job with the ship. There’s really no heterosexual explanation for Marcone’s obsession with keeping Harry alive.

I guess it’s a sort of love triangle where Marcone loves Harry who loves Morgan who hates that this is his life.

Marcone goes on to explain that the plan, remember that everyone, is to not complicate the foresncis with bullets.

Denton finally really is losing it and, apparently having trouble with the concept of things he can’t see RIGHT NOW still existing, suggests that MacFinn might not show up at all.

“My spotters,” Marcone said, “tell me that the animals I sent out with them went mad with fear about two minutes ago, three miles west of here.

Yet another point for there being secret tree cameras. This is someone who understands the importance of knowing where people are.

“Marcone,” I said. “Just shoot him now.”
“I think we’ve both had enough of your attempts to divide and conquer, Mr. Dresden,” Marcone said, his voice bored. “You’re beaten. Acknowledge it with grace.”
I watched a slow smile spread over Denton’s face as he kept the gun pointed at my head. My voice rose by a couple notes of alarm. “I mean it, John. I really do, I shit you not. This entire thing is about them killing you.”
“What a vulgar reassurance,” Marcone said. “Agent Denton, we have a few details to attend to. Lower your gun and let us be about them.”

…okay, so the way I’d read this is Marcone knows and is trying to get Harry to shut the fuck up because the ideal point to double-cross Denton is still off a ways. But apparently he’s taken off guard by Denton deciding fuck it everybody dies NOW.

Maybe part of the problem is that Denton is more unstable than he realizes. His whole grandstanding and acting like he’s not afraid probably would’ve worked on Denton back when the guy had a functioning grasp of consequences.

He shoots Hendricks, but I’m assuming the guy was wearing some sort of vest. If he wasn’t then eh, he’s obviously not competent enough to have mattered in the first place.

Marcone started to raise his gun, but Wilson and Harris hurtled at his back and dragged him to the ground, pounding on him with their fists. Marcone writhed like an eel and slipped away from them, but Denton stepped into his path and thrust the gun into Marcone’s face.

And that’s about precisely the fighting ability you’d expect from Marcone – he’s certainly been in them and is likely more dangerous than he looks, but no one’s claimed he’s all about personal fighting skill.

So basically, this book is competent when it doesn’t involve the supernatural and avoids women as much as possible. He should’ve just written a detective story with minimal women.

I took the moment to roll to my hands and knees and attempt to slip away unnoticed, but was brought up short by a pair of bare, muscular, feminine legs. My gaze followed the legs up, past the skirt, to a magnificently bare-breasted torso encircled by a wolf-pelt belt, and then to a face dominated by eyes made eerie by the lack of anything recognizably sentient in them.

God, I wish he’d just written a detective story with minimal women.

Because Benn is such a bitch lol it’s a pun do you get it, she stomps on his wounded shoulder. Because Harry won’t shut up about her breasts, I don’t care.

You know… The book always talks about how unconcerned Tera is about being naked, like that’s such a big deal it needs to be mentioned each time. And now we have Benn similarly bare-chested but not actually doing anything sexual with it. Then last book Harry explained that Rodriguez is extra hot because she flirts much as possible but at the same time isn’t aware of how attractive she actually is.

I think the contrast is about if women are performing for men or not and if they’re confident. That’s what’s going on with it being mentioned over and over, and why Tera is alien and possibly evil – she’s not self-conscious and she’s not doing it for other people. She’s not ashamed to be seen naked. She’s not stripping to appeal to anyone either. She’s acting like her body is first and foremost her own body. And so Benn here is clearly insane and subhuman – she’s too far gone to be aware that baring her breasts is supposed to be all about the men seeing them, not about if she doesn’t want to wear a shirt.

Confident females are monstrous and not really women.

Anyway, there’s some pit and some sort of plan. Harry suddenly thinks about how the thick trees and thick wall probably muffle gunshots. He doesn’t think that this is probably on purpose and maybe he could try lecturing Marcone about the whole law is the law is the law nonsense sometime instead of the poor FBI agents trying to deal with him.

He’s shoved into a wet pit.

I had a brief pang for my leather duster

See, this is why when I wear my coat everyone assumes I’m cosplaying Matrix characters and I keep having to explain that no it’s practical! It’s practical! We’ll see who’s making school shooting cracks when the zombies can’t bite me!

I mean, it’s possible to buy fancy leather stuff that you can wreck, if you pay enough money you can do pretty much anything, but I refuse to believe Rodriguez bought him that when their first date involved watching his stuff get wrecked, she’s a generally competent and smart person, and Harry is a total fuckup. Half the weight of the jacket probably comes from the layers upon layers of waterproofing.

I mean, if you soak it long enough I’m sure it’ll eventually be wrecked, but MacFinn is a couple minutes away, remember? Either you get out of the pit or MacFinn swallows your jacket with the rest of you, so regardless it’s not going to be in water too long.

Harry decides to lie down because it makes his shoulder feel better as he drowns, and Murphy’s all NOPE and drags him back up. God, Murphy, I’m sorry he’s all you have to rely on. Did I mention she’s only got one working arm at this point?

Also, the pit has a suspended platform above it. A few paragraphs later Marcone gets dangled from it as bait, which seems excessive – it’s not like nutso ragewolf would hesitate to jump into a pit so long as there was something maulable at the bottom. Just chuck them all in.

I turned my head to see a naked and dirty Tera West, sitting with her back against another wall of mud. There were five soggy, motionless forms lying around her, the Alphas in their wolf-shapes. Tera held their heads upon her lap, up out of the water. She looked bedraggled and anguished, touching each of them in turn, very gently. Her amber eyes were dull.

Why is she human, though? She’d be warmer as a wolf and have more surface area to support the others.

Also I wonder if there’s any meaning to calling her “dirty” rather than “muddy”.

Harry explains the whole spellwolf thing, and Murphy isn’t confused by the belts so nope, that was totally in the report she (and Marcone)got, that’ll teach any of you to hope this could make sense.

That’s how he kept showing up everywhere so fast, too-he already knew that someone was dead.”

Huh. On the one hand, I guess that’s another legitimate clue, but on the other, isn’t that a rookie mistake? Murphy wasn’t calling the guy, so she wouldn’t notice, but whoever was in charge of telling them could’ve noticed something was up. It’s not like it was a situation where they really needed to get there early to start tampering with evidence when this whole scheme is based around providing gobs of evidence that can’t be linked to them.

“With us,” Murphy said quietly. I felt her shivers grow a little more severe. “They’re going to drop that thing into this pit with us. Oh, God, Harry.”

As last book, Murphy is a Strong Female Character, which is to say she’s cutely vulnerable when it gets bad.

Oh, also one of the babywolves is waking up and it’s fucking Billy.

Murphy settled beside me, a shivering spot against my side. The cast on her arm pressed against my ribs. I opened my coat, more a polite gesture than anything else, given that it, too, was soaked

Harry, look, I understand computers don’t work for you but given your life surely you can find the time to crack a survival book sometime. Also you’d be benefiting from the shared warmth too.

Her back stiffened and she flashed me a look of indignation, but after a second just pressed as far under the coat as she could.

See, girls randomly hate you for being nice to them but also their objections are meaningless and they secretly like it. Also, I guess presumably somehow mutual huddling to share heat is Harry being super chivalrous.

But because she’s now properly humbled by Harry’s manly protectiveness, she says that she decides she was probably wrong about him being the killer.

Harry, being an asshole, decides to say that Denton being against him should prove he’s totally innocent, and Murphy explains that actually bad guys wanting to kill you don’t make you innocent. But he wants to kill me! whines Harry.

“From what I can tell, Denton wants pretty much everybody dead.

Oh Murphy. So sane. So smart. So wasted in this series.

And then we get this horrible exchange:

And you could still be lying to me.”
“I’m not, Murph,” I said, my voice soft. “Cross my heart.”
“I can’t just take your word on it, Harry,” she whispered. “There are too many people dead. My men. My people. Civilians, the ones I’m supposed to protect. The only way to be sure is to take you all, everyone involved, and sort things out with you behind bars.”
“No,” I said. “There’s more to it than what you can prove, Murph, more than what’s going to stand up in court. Come on. You and me, we’ve known each other for years. You should be able to trust me by now, right?”
“I should be able to,” Murphy agreed. “But after what I’ve seen, all the blood and death …” She shook her head. “No, Harry. I can’t trust anyone anymore.” She half smiled and said, “I still like you, Dresden. But I can’t trust you.”

No.

She should be able to trust him after knowing him for years – but he chose to spend those years lying to her.

But nothing is ever Harry’s fault, so it can’t be that she doesn’t trust him on the basis he’s not trustworthy. No, it’s that poor Murphy won’t accept his words (and his dick) because she’s just been through so much she can’t recognize a Nice Guy like him when she meets one.

Harry then says he wishes he could rescue his damsel but that Murphy would be pissed at the very idea.

Also he feels bad for Marcone because no one deserved to dangle like bait from a hook and Harry seriously you do understand he kills people right? Lots of people?

The Alphas, Tera, Marcone, Murphy. They were all where they were because of me. It was my fault we were there, my doing that we were all about to die. Carmichael, the poor jerk, was dead, also because of me. So were other good cops. So was Hendricks.

Once again Harry can only accept responsibility when it’s a blanket acceptance including stuff that obviously had nothing to do with him, because it’s not that he actually fucked up and could’ve avoided any of this, it’s just that it’s the wizard’s burden to be responsible for the lesser races.

“I need to get out of here,” I told Murphy. “Get me out of here, and maybe I can do something.”
Murphy turned her head toward me. “You mean … ?” She waved the fingers of her unbroken arm in a vaguely mystic gesture.
I nodded. I still had my ace in the hole. “Something like that.”
“Right. So how do we get you out of here?”
“You going to trust me, Murph?”
Her jaw clenched. “It doesn’t look as though I have much choice, does it?”
I smiled back at her

Harry asks her to help him, then doesn’t actually answer her fucking question in any way, then when she accepts this non-answer and chooses to help him anyway, he needles her about how haha trusting me now huh? Her anger at this pleases him.

Murphy begins the obligatory listing of how much of a woobie underdog he is and MacFinn mercifully shows up to cut it short.

12 Comments

  1. Roarke says:
    Harry explains the whole spellwolf thing, and Murphy isn’t confused by the belts so nope, that was totally in the report she (and Marcone)got, that’ll teach any of you to hope this could make sense.

    (sad voice) Burn.

  2. Socordya says:
    Try to imagine a place, a beautifully ordered structure, like the Parthenon or Monticello “or a cheerleader’s body.”
    1. Roarke says:
      “And then, after all of that, after all the gossip and homecomings and pregnancies of the world a cheerleader inhabits have been fairly represented, coat everything in a thick, sticky black sludge that smells like swamps and things that attract dun-colored flies. Paint it on, make it a coating that emphasizes the wrinkles, the sagging, the despair all around, that brings out that painful decline to the utmost degree. The sludge makes things stronger, and more bitter, more rotten, more putrid all at the same time, like an excessive application of makeup.”
  3. illhousen says:
    “I guess it’s a sort of love triangle where Marcone loves Harry who loves Morgan who hates that this is his life.”

    Morgan is very obviously Harry’s kismesis, at least as far as Harry is concerned.

    With Marcone, I’m not sure. Harry seems to hateflirt with him given an opportunity, but it feels forced, and when all is said and done they’re closer to matesprits than anything, though it’s also possible Marcone tries to moirail-zone Harry who pushes for a more romantic relationship (also, isn’t it sad when a mob boss would actually make a decent mpirail to you?).

    In conclusion, quadrants are fun.

    1. Farla says:
      Ooooh, moirails, now it makes sense!

      Harry and Marcone are both trying to moirail each other without listening to the other one. One is saner but the other is stubborner so it’s getting nowhere.

      Marcone: You’re wasting your life and talents!!! Come have a real job with me.
      Harry: You’re a criminal!!! You must NOT BE criminal, because I am disapprove.
      Marcone: I’m SAD you won’t take my advice.
      Harry: I’m MAD you won’t take my advice.

      I actually think Harry/Morgan’s more like Equius/Aradia, where Harry’s way more red than makes sense while Morgan’s firmly hatey about it.

      Also it then explains why Morgan’s so disappointed Harry isn’t actually evil and then drops the relationship immediately.

      1. illhousen says:
        Hm, yes, that makes the most sense.

        And indeed, Morgan clearly needs someone truly evil who would delight in technically not breaking the Laws while doing horrible things to get his hate on.

  4. actonthat says:
    I am so bafflingly confused as to why the book acts like Marcone is a good guy. Like, we’re clearly supposed to like him and be rooting for him, to the point that taking him out isn’t supposed to be a sufficient villain motivation. What is Butcher even trying to accomplish? Is it the typical ~gangsters are so cool~ thing?
    1. Roarke says:
      I think that’s Butcher trying to go for that old “gangster with a code of honor” deal that was romanticized back when he was a kid (aka the early 20th century). Here’s a nice quote from Max Payne: “Vlad was one of those old-time bad guys with honor and morals, which made him almost one of the good guys. None of us was a saint.”

      It’s just another pathetic attempt at being noir: the mundane criminal is such a minor threat compared to the supernatural that he’s almost a victim himself. I do believe Marcone’s portrayal and the way he fits into the world actually do get better, if memory serves. This is likely to be because he has a penis.

      1. Farla says:
        Well, film noir is 1940s but the hardboiled detective starts in 1920, where you had crime and cool mobsters because we had this one great moment where there was an illegal product with massive money in it that wasn’t actually that horrible of a thing.

        I think that gets into the idea that somehow Marcone’s business doesn’t run on human misery – it’d be totally possible for someone whose empire was running on whiskey to have the attitude that causing harm would just lead to more expenses down the line and for the violence to stay contained between criminals. Everyone wants to drink alcohol, but most of them aren’t addicted enough that they’ll keep coming around if there’s too much shooting. Someone smart like Marcone might decide the good PR is totally worth it.

        1. Roarke says:
          Ah, I was conflating the two, I see. I think there is some overlap between them, though, with the whole gray morality thing.
        2. illhousen says:
          What’s sad is that it’s totally possible to replicate the dynamic of “illegal but harmless” stuff with magic involved.

          Back in the day, there was a popular idea of drugs as the key to the doors of perception, something that would allow us to unlock the full potential of our minds, etc. With magic, it’s easy to achieve. Say that the Sight doesn’t drive muggles mad but is actually mostly beneficial: it allows you to see the hidden beauty of the world, increases creativity, etc., and only occasionally scorches your sanity if you’re unlucky enough to encounter some ancient demon.

          So, ThreeEye(TM) drug in this version is perfectly fine and doesn’t cause any significant side effects, no more than alcohol at least, the White Council just doesn’t like it because of the secrecy issues and they have enough connections and power to make sure it gets treated as a heavy drug.

          Other similar drugs, like mentat enhancing cognitive abilities, could be around as well.

          If Marcone deals primary in this stuff, maybe by having a pet alchemist around (someone self-taught like Victor), his empire wouldn’t require human misery to function and his product would likely attract people who don’t appreciate too much violence happening around them. So you can legitimately play him as mostly OK guy who just happened to be on the wrong side of the law.

    2. Farla says:
      I think it helps that Marcone always enters the story saying that Harry is super awesome and he wants to give him anything he wants for being so cool. In contrast, Murphy enters the story demanding Harry do things and then telling him his halfassed “help” isn’t good enough and he better step it up if he wants to get paid.

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