Last time, sexy vampire lesbian sex lesbian sex sex that Harry is so disgusted by he has to watch every second so he knows just how disgusted to feel about it.
Harry gets a loan car from the tow truck, despite the fact that people shouldn’t want to loan him cars when he appears to cause a lot of damage to the internal workings. You give him one car while you’re fixing his other one, and when you get it back you’d have to fix your car. If they were charging him through the nose I could see it, but again, Harry’s money issues come up only in the opening chapters for hardboiled cred. Indeed, in a few minutes he’ll claim to be out of money again, meaning he isn’t even paying for the loaned car at all.
He calls Randall.
The phone rang several times before a quiet, dusky contralto answered, “Beckitts’, this is Linda.”
“Linda Randall?” I asked.
“Mmmm,” she answered. She had a furry, velvety voice, something tactile. “Who’s this?”
“My name is Harry Dresden. I was wondering if I could talk to you.”
“Harry who?” she asked.
“Dresden. I’m a private investigator.”
She laughed, the sound rich enough to roll around naked in. “Investigating my privates, Mr. Dresden? I like you already.”
I have to read it, you have to read it.
Thank god the mood changes when he mentions her dead friend. She just says no. He tries to talk her into it. No again. But. No means no. She hangs up.
Harry is pissed that he went through the effort of finding out about her only to get no further information. He realizes the background noise was that of an airplane, and Bianca said Randall was a driver, so he actually puts two and two together like a proper detective and decides to drive over to the airport.
It was far easier to blow off someone over the phone than it was to do it in person.
This doesn’t seem horrible because it’s Harry’s job!
See, it’s understood that a private detective will badger and annoy people in order to get their job done. They’ll have to be at least a little dickish in chasing people down. The problem with this book so far is Harry hasn’t been acting as a private detective. Even his interaction with Bianca was primarily framed around how he personally treats women. And, of course, he’s spent the last half down chapters telling us about how he isn’t doing his job, doesn’t want to do his job, and is only even semi-motivated to follow up on one case because he’s going to be killed otherwise.
He did the most half-assed job imaginable investigating the missing husband case, and repeatedly lies to Murphy claiming he’s working on her case when he isn’t. All this dickery is not legitimate private detective dickery, it’s him.
But no, FINALLY, he’s just being a pushy dick about his case.
Anyway, he heads there and finds a limo waiting.
I swerved the old Studebaker into a parking place, racing a Volvo for it and winning by dint of driving the older and heavier vehicle and having the more suicidal attitude.
Also I like this because this is how my family drives.
He tries calling again to see if there’s a reaction from the limo. There is!
“Beckitts’, this is Linda,” she purred.
“Hello, Linda,” I said. “This is Harry Dresden again.”
I could almost hear her smirk. There was a flicker of light from inside the car, the silhouette of a woman’s face, then the orange glow of a cigarette being lit. “I thought I told you I didn’t want to talk to you, Mr. Dresden.”
“I like women who play hard to get.”
She laughed that delicious laugh. I could see her head move in the darkened car when she did. “I’m getting harder to get by the second. Good-bye again.” She hung up on me.
Like with Rodriguez, this is more pleasant than Harry’s other interactions because it’s someone who actually wants to be playing this game. She’s not going to actually like it when she realizes he’s shown up, but she’s not going to be harassed by it either.
a woman in her mid-twenties arched an eyebrow at me. She had beautiful eyes the color of rain clouds, a little too much eye shadow, and brilliant scarlet lipstick on her cupid’sbow lips. Her hair was a medium brown, drawn back into a tight braid that made her cheeks look almost sharp, severe, except for her forelocks, which hung down close to her eyes in insolent disarray. She had a predatory look to her, harsh, sharp. She wore a crisp white shirt, grey slacks, and held a lit cigarette in one hand. The smoke curled up around my nose, and I exhaled, trying to push it away.
She looked me up and down, frankly assessing. “Don’t tell me. Harry Dresden.”
Yuup, our proper femme fatale has finally appeared.
She’s not actually going to be one, mind you, but still. It’s sad it’s taken this long to get a severe and predatory gorgeous woman as opposed to sexy cheerleader mom and demure then giant bat Bianca.
“I really need to talk to you, Miss Randall. It won’t take long.”
She glanced at her watch and then at the terminal doors. Then back up at me. “Well. You’ve got me cornered, don’t you? I’m at your mercy.” Her lips quirked. She took a drag of her cigarette. “And I like a man who just won’t stop.”
Look, now she’s innuendoing at Harry while he just wants to talk about serious subjects!
Then…well, as always, it goes weird:
I cleared my throat again. The woman was attractive, but not unduly so. Yet there was something about her that revved my engines, something about the way she held her head or shaped her words that bypassed my brain and went straight to my hormones.
So what about her isn’t attractive? Probably the clue here was that her makeup is noticeable, as opposed to Harry’s favorite description of just enough makeup to be invisible. And the fact she’s got a more dominant look to her likely isn’t helping.
Harry desperately tries to ask if she knew the people involved in the case, and basically gets a response of “oh yeah biblically” each time. It almost works, but Harry realizes her hands are shaking.
She was wearing the alley-cat mask, appealing to my glands instead of my brain, and trying to distract me with it, trying to keep me from finding something out.
Good job Harry, you’re proper detectiving yet again!
I’m not inhuman. I can be distracted by a pretty face, or body, like any other youngish man. Linda Randall was damned good at playing the part. But I do not like to be made the fool.
Aaand there’s you getting creepy again. Getting mad at women for making you be attracted to them is sketchy, getting mad at one of them doing it because she’s terrified is downright awful.
Randall, like most characters, is far more on the ball than Harry and notices the moment this act stops working. Honestly, she should probably have kept it up since he seems easily distracted. But it shows she’s smarter than him, and I appreciate that.
I mean, okay, she immediately asks him if he’s a cop as if a cop wouldn’t lie his ass off, but I think the author actually believes that works.
Randall says her friend called her to ask if she wanted to be part of sexytimes with Tomm the soon to be heartsploded. Unfortunately, work prevented Randall from taking her up on that.
She was sweet. A lot of girls get like-They get pretty jaded, Mr. Dresden. But it never really touched her. She made people feel better about themselves somehow.”
See, hookers dying is only a tragedy if you properly establish they’re Not Like The Other Girls and were totally having sex with you because you’re so great and fun.
Harry then informs us that whoops, she definitely knows stuff she isn’t saying.
unless she was just shutting down because I’d stomped all over her feelings, as I had Bianca’s.
This is a weird little chivalry tangent. There doesn’t seem to be any tie between the two except they were both women he asked questions. She didn’t even seem particularly bothered by the questions so much as fear of cops. He even thinks this a second time to hammer in how shitty he feels about stomping on two women’s feelings.
So naturally, he then follows it up with
“Why,” I asked her, the words slipping out before I thought about them. “Why the slut act?”
She looked up at me again, and smirked. I saw the subtle shifting in her, magnifying that sort of animal appeal she had, once more, as she had been doing when I first approached her-but it didn’t hide the self-loathing in her eyes. I looked away, quickly, before I had to see any more of it. I got the feeling that I didn’t want to see Linda Randall’s soul. “Because it’s what I do, Mr. Dresden. For some people it’s drugs. Booze. For me, orgasms. Sex. Passion. Just another addict.
So her being uneasy about talking to him makes Harry feel so, so bad, but obviously this is an acceptable topic, because slut!
Also, Empty Tiger Fridge’s soul is awesome but seeing her disgusting slut soul? Just no. (Even though he’s pretty sure she’s hiding something and the soulgaze might tell him.) And of course, Harry has no problem with her getting soulfucked despite the fact she has no way of knowing this could happen and so is certainly not indicating willingness here – it’s just she’s too gross for him to want to do it.
This gets into a difference in male/female flaws. Harry’s tragic past makes him better – he’s so badass people faint when they see it! He claims to be angsty about his past, but he sure seems pretty damn proud. Randall’s tragic past? Something to avert your eyes from.
As if to distract us, it’s time for Harry to do some detective inferencing about the Beckitts who’ve just shown up.
They had the look of lifestyle professionals, the kind that have a career and no kids, with enough money and time to spend on making themselves look good-a NordicTrack couple.
This turns out to be completely wrong, and the fact they did have a kid is in fact a major feature of the plot.
Detectives misjudging people can be acceptable, but Harry doesn’t have any excuse for this fuckup, and it’d have been more palatable if he wasn’t a complete failure even as the book acts like he’s so awesome.
The husband asks Randall who Harry is, and she claims ex-boyfriend. He then looks at the wife, who had the look I’d seen in films, on the faces of prisoners released from the German stalags at the end of World War II. Empty. Numb. Dead, and just didn’t know it yet.
Harry proceeds to not revise his previous estimation of the Beckitts as rich professionals living their life how they want or even react to this in any way.
Also, kind of like the author’s HEARTSPLOSIONS ARE THE GORIEST THING EVER AND ANY POLICE OFFICER WOULD BE NEAR BREAKDOWN OVER MY EPIC HEARTSPLOSION DESCRIPTION thing, his wife has not been through anything comparable to German POW camps. (I’m not sure why it’s stalag and not concentration camp. I hope it’s because the author at least knows it’d be wrong to compare losing a child to living through the Holocaust. I fear it’s because stalag sounds more original than concentration camp.)
What’s particularly weird here is – haven’t you seen people grieving? Wouldn’t you recognize that better than of something you saw on ancient blurry film of a tragedy over half a century ago?
Here’s something I remember about police and psychics. Police don’t give a shit when people call them about having psychic visions of a missing person, and do you know why? Because the psychics report things like what the missing person is seeing or that they’re scared, and the police know the missing person is dead. Oh, they hope that maybe this particular case is an exception, and sometimes it is, but they know missing persons cases end with finding a body in the woods.
Now, Harry is not psychic but does do divination. That means some times before, maybe many times before, desperate and terrified family members have contacted him and provided him with an item to find their loved one, and he has found them a corpse, sometimes intact, sometimes in pieces. He should know what grief looks like very well.
But the author apparently has no frame of reference but what he’s seem on the History Channel. Or whatever the source of nonstop war footage was before the History Channel. And I don’t think he even particularly looked at those empty numb dead faces too hard, because the book goes right from that to…
Mrs. Beckitt briefly put a hand on Linda’s waist in passing, a gesture that was too intimate and possessive for the hired help. I saw Linda shiver, then close the door.
…lesbian!!! Because it’s super important you know that Mrs. Beckitt is totally going to be tapping that when she gets home.
I guess at least homosexuality confirmed to exist. Randall’s statements about how she was totally doing her friend are suspect due to who she was talking to, and the Bianca thing earlier was obviously playing on the author’s interest in girl-on-girl more than actually being it, but Mrs. Beckitt must be pretty damn into women for it to overcome the fact she is utterly dead inside.
Let’s see how long it takes for definite male homosexuality (as opposed to Giant Naked Sword Stalker) to appear.
Randall tells Harry to get going before he gets her in trouble, and Harry actually does something competent and also not hateworthy.
I reached for her hand, grabbed it, and held it between both of mine, as an old lover might, I supposed. My business card was pressed between our palms. “My card. If you think of anything else, give me a call. Okay?”
See, someone using a “ex-lover” cover story does not mean you can then act like this toward them, especially regarding touching – claims of a relationship for some other purpose aren’t consent. It is, however, utterly acceptable to continue the act for some other purpose yourself. Note how Harry does not do any shit like kiss her “to make it look realistic”. Good job, Harry!
Mrs. Beckitt’s dead eyes watched me through the side window as the limo went by me. It was my turn to shiver. Like I said, spooky.
While the ultimate mastermind is not, as Harry originally says, a witch, on the reread I’m further convinced there’s narrative backing to the women hate better thing, because all the focus here is on Mrs. Beckitt rather than the both of them being equally messed up.
Possibly this is the author’s attempt at a red herring, but it’s pretty damn subtle if it’s supposed to be given Harry’s lack of reaction. How much a detective story holds your hand varies, but in a story where 90% of the rules are unknown until the main character explains them, he really should be doing more explaining.
I went on into the airport. The monitors displaying flight times flickered to fuzz when I walked by. I went to one of the cafes inside, sat down, and ordered myself a cup of coffee. I had to pay for it with change. Most of my money had gone into paying off last month’s rent and into the love potion I’d let Bob talk me into making.
THEN WHY ARE YOU ORDERING AIRPORT COFFEE YOU STUPID FUCK ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS WALK IN THE OTHER DIRECTION AND GET A COFFEE THAT WASN’T TEN TIMES THE REGULAR PRICE!
The money thing is just irritating, okay? It’s like someone who’s never had to worry about it is writing this and all he knows is that poor people talk about paying rent and have to use change like it’s currency instead of this weird metal chaff generated by purchases.
I had two areas of concern. The most important was finding who had killed Tommy Tomm and Jennifer Stanton. Not only to catch the killer before any more corpses turned up, but because if I didn’t, the White Council would probably use the opportunity to have me put to death.
Act pointed out that in a proper detective story, it’s cheating to have it turn out to be the main character all along. It makes it far too easy for them to manipulate or remove information, and traditionally detective stories are designed around the idea that all the information is right there and the challenge is in assembling it. That said, this book is already shit, so I see no reason not to wonder if it’d be better if Harry was the killer.
All you’d have to change is Harry thinking he’s got to find the real killer. Just remove a few chunks of his internal narration, which is no real loss anyway. He can still react to Morgan showing up with Oh fuck, the White Council thinks I’m the killer! and he could talk a lot about finding a suspect for the police/White Council, then in narration say that he’s looking for the killer, when what he’s really doing is desperately trying to find someone else to pin the blame on when it turns out the White Council is on to him.
See, it’d be satisfing because Harry is terrible and so the reveal that he’s the killer would make stuff like his cutesy sexism into a villain hint. The narration only acted like it was no big deal because it was Harry’s narration and he’s evil!
Harry then points out that nothing he’s done so far is billable hours. I’m not even clear if this is an ethics thing or it’s just that Murphy will not pay him on the basis of “yeah totally working on that spell but haven’t found anything yet, money plz”.
So, if I wanted money from Chicago P.D., I would have to spend time doing the research Murphy wanted-the black-magic research that could get me killed all by itself.
Or, I could work on Monica Sells’s missing husband case. I thought I had that one pretty well pegged down, but it wouldn’t hurt to get it fleshed out fully. I could spend time working on it, fill out the hours on the retainer, maybe even get a few more added on.
In either case, Harry’s ethics evidently do not have any issue with dicking around on a case to fill out hours, or deliberately avoiding the more important one because he doesn’t feel like it. He decides to call up a bunch of delivery places, then finds out there’s only one in the area so no problem.
“Hey there,” I said. “I wonder if you can help me out. I’m looking for the driver who took an order out to an address on Wednesday night.” I told him the address, and asked if I could speak to the driver.
“Another one,” he snorted. “Sure, hang on. Jack just got in from a run.”
Did everyone catch that? Because Harry really, really did not. Watch:
“Hello,” I answered. “Are you the driver who took pizza to-”
” Look, ” he said, his voice exasperated and nervous. “I said I was sorry already. It won’t happen again.”
I blinked for a minute, off balance. “Sorry for what?”
Harry. “Another one” means you are the second person to call – could even be third. It’s also not that hard to guess what someone desperately apologizing about after delivering pizza to people screwing might be talking about, but apparently it’s too hard to Harry, because the guy proceeds to spell it out:
“Look,” he said in a half whine. “I told you I’m not gonna say anything to anyone. I was only looking. You can’t blame me, right? No one answered the door, what was I supposed to do?” His voice cracked in the middle of his sentences. “Hell of a party, but hey. That’s your business. Right?”
At which point Harry…struggled to keep up with the kid. “What, exactly, did you see, Jack?” I asked him.
Holy shit this is stupid. Somehow, the delivery guy is too rattled to notice Harry’s complete failure to pretend he knows what’s going on, despite the fact any detective worth his salt knows to take advantage of mistaken identity. He then informs Harry that there were a bunch of people fucking, then Harry somehow knows that the guy is hiding something despite not even being bright enough to play along, because the plot demands it, so he asks again and this time the guy mentions there being some other guy taking pictures.
Note that second part is completely unnecessary because Harry should already have figured out there was someone there taking pictures by the fact there was concrete evidence of it.
What a proper detective should have done is combine the knowledge that there was an orgy and the delivery guy already was called and yelled at about seeing it with the knowledge there was evidence of a cameraman to come to the conclusion someone else was there taking blackmail photos. There are definitely people who’d be fine taking photos of their orgy, but those people probably would not be this mad the pizza guy saw them too.
Harry then obligingly lays out the evidence we were just told in detail as if he’s working it all out on the spot and we’re supposed to be impressed.
And a photographer? Someone lurking around outside of windows and taking pictures? I rummaged in my duster pocket and felt the round plastic film canister. That explained where the canister had come from, at any rate. But why would someone be out there at the house, taking pictures of Victor and his friends? Maybe because Monica had hired someone else, a PI, without telling me. Maybe just a neighbor with the hots for taking dirty pictures. No way to tell, really.
Okay, first off? Unless Victor is using that house for orgies every weekend, no neighbor should know that’s an option, especially when we’re told these are rich people’s houses with rich people’s enormous separation from the road and each other. Lotta leg work to check every house just in case somebody’s currently orgying. Second, you can absolutely tell if Monica hired a PI and told the guy to take pictures at the house, because she has a telephone you stupid fucker.
My investigation for Monica Sells had netted me one husband throwing wild parties in his beach house after losing his job, and working hard not to be found. Probably an advanced case of male menopause.
Because see, men being like women is the highest insult, even if nothing about the comparison makes the slightest bit of sense.
But don’t worry, we’re be back to hating women for being like women next sentence:
Monica didn’t seem to be the kind of woman who would take such a thing with good grace-more like the kind who would close her eyes and call me a liar if I told her the truth.
Harry “oh yeah those grieving parents definitely never had a child” Dresden can tell these things.
Incidentally, she would have every right to call you a liar because you are too stupid to take pictures (1839. Kodak was invented 1888, and the Kodak Brownie was the first mass-market camera in 1900 if mass market is what we’re using to determine dates. My dad actually managed to find at a 1950s one at a yard sale a few years back, and he was really pleased by how you can actually see the (lack of) inner workings – they’re amazingly simple devices, it’s the chemical film that’s impressive.)
In the event that gremlins prevent Harry from taking pictures himself on the basis he’s a dick and they feel he doesn’t deserve to be able to take pictures, that just shows he should have someone he can call up (given phones somehow work for him), just like he has a system in place to handle his need for 1940s cars.
Moreover, Harry just suggested that the most likely reason for the cameraman was that Monica hired the guy, so odds are she’s already been supplied with photographic proof.
But at least it merited a little more looking into-I could log a few more hours in on the case, maybe earn some more money out of it before I gave her the bill.
He then informs us that he’s dead-ended on the other case. (He really should be able to tell Murphy that Bianca has no clue who did it, since what’s really going on is they have two potential targets, Bianca and Refrigerator Tiger, and this narrows it down.) But he’s dumb, so he has no clue. Luckily, that means it’s time for the beatings to start.
He was waiting for me behind the trash cans that stood next to the stairs leading down to my front door. The baseball bat he swung at me took me behind the ear and pitched me to the bottom of the stairs in a near-senseless heap. I could hear his footsteps, but couldn’t quite move, as he came down the stairs toward me.
It figured. It was just the kind of day I was having.
I felt his foot on the back of my neck. Felt him lift the baseball bat. And then it came whistling down toward my skull with a mighty crack of impact.
Except that it missed my motionless head, and whacked into the concrete next to my face, right by my eyes, instead.
“Listen up, Dresden,” my attacker said. His voice was rough, low, purposefully hoarse. “You got a big nose. Stop sticking it where it doesn’t belong. You got a big mouth. Stop talking to people you don’t need to talk to. Or we’re going to shut that mouth of yours.” He waited a melodramatically appropriate moment, and then added, “Permanently.”
In addition to how great it is generally that Harry is suffering, there’s the possibility that this poor thug was given a script or told to adlib from a noir movie because they didn’t think Harry would register anything else, and that’s why this is such a pile of cliches.
Now, does it make sense aside from that? No, no it does not. The problem is this comes on the heels of the vampire thing.
You can see what they’re going for here – Harry holds off the vampire because he goes into it knowing exactly what he’s facing, while this guy blindsided him. But it still comes off as jarring, in part because of the monologue. Everything Harry said when discussing how to handle Bianca was based around speed, and he still wins the magic quickdraw. Here, he’s as helpless as any ordinary human against someone else with a bat.
I’m honestly fond of magic not being super great at keeping you alive, since it means winning is about cleverness and positioning. But, Harry’s really not that, and actually has a super great shield charm he’ll show off later. Plus he can just fireball someone with a word, no prep necessary.
This is another problem with him as a hardboiled detective. The author obviously thinks he’s an underdog, but he’s not. Murphy’s an underdog. Harry is Privileged McPrivileged, able to literally kill people with his mind.
Harry should absolutely be able to make a detect enemy spell, an anti bat to head spell, etc, without a problem. Plus we’ve now had multiple people explain he’s in the weight class to heartsplode anyone who pisses him off, just as soon as he finishes working out how.
Anyway, his cat eventually comes over to verify its food source is still functioning, and Harry staggers up, still pretty dazed by his brush with death and also his concussion. Mostly the concussion.
I cut off that line of thought. “You are not some poor rabbit, Dresden!” I reminded myself, sternly. “You are a wizard of the old school, a spellslinger of the highest caliber. You’re not going to roll over for some schmuck with a baseball bat because he tells you to!”
The problem is, he’s absolutely right.
Harry isn’t bucking himself up here by saying he’s tough and dedicated enough not to get scared off, he’s pointing out he can straight up take these guys in a fight.
He then begins the hardboiled ritual of trying to figure out who’s upset at him and so must be involved themselves. He painstakingly works out that wait, wasn’t the mob telling him not to fuck around, then adds that also it was totally a mob hit so there was that clue too. In fairness, concussion. But also in fairness, he was as dumb or dumber prior to the concussion.
I staggered to my kitchenette and fixed myself a tisane tea for the headache, then added in some aspirin. Herbal remedies are well and good, but I don’t like to take chances.
You’d really think magic could handle this. But no, because he then picks up my Smith & Wesson .38 Chief’s Special out of its drawer because obviously guns are cooler than the ability to set people on fire by looking at them.
Wanna try to justify that one, Harry?
Wizardry aside, it’s tough to beat a gun for discouraging men with baseball bats.
No I’m still pretty sure setting people on fire with your mind is still better.
And I sure as hell wasn’t going to roll over for the tiger-souled Johnny Marcone
So now he’s finally motivated to actually do the job he was hired for. Murphy asking, begging, and ordering didn’t do it, civic duty didn’t do it, but Harry does respond to threats. It’s a shame Murphy is too good of a cop to have an agreement with the mob where every time she actually needs Harry to do something she has them ask him not to do it, she’d get a lot more done. Maybe she could just ask one of her fellow cops to take off their uniform and pretend to be a mob thug? Harry views most of them as scenery so he probably wouldn’t recognize them.