My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This fourth installment of the Dresden Files series finds our hero essentially strung out and on the verge of a break down after the traumatic ending from book 3 (Grave Peril). Once again Harry Dresden is called upon to solve a murder, but this time his client is none other than the Faerie Winter Queen, who has bought Harry's debt from his Godmother and now wants his help to find a murderer and recover something that was stolen. That might be easy enough to do, except the vampires of the Red Court are gunning for Harry, and the White Council has basically given him one more chance to prove his worth, or be thrown to the vampires as a peace offering. It's never easy being Harry Dresden.
As with all of Butcher's books about the troubled wizard in Chicago, I loved this installment. The gritty, noir world that Butcher creates is always fun to visit, and the characters are top notch. In Summer Knight I really like that Harry finally gets it through his stubborn head that he can't always do this on his own. Yes, he is chivalrous to a fault, but he's learning that people (friends - gasp) are willing to help him. And this time he needs all the help he can get.
I also love that we learn a lot more about Harry this time, about his past, and what happened with him after he fought his first master, Justin. The interactions that Harry has with the White Council were quite fun, and it was nice to see the larger wizard-world being shown. I also liked that characters that have appeared in the earlier books were making a return engagement, helping to create a living world.
My one quibble comes at the end of the book when the events have been resolved. Harry was given a task by the White Council, which he completed, but there was no resolution with the Council. You assume that there was a conclusion, and that Harry at least passed the test given him, but I really wanted more interaction - especially between Harry and the Warder, Morgan. I wanted to see that interaction play out, as well as the reaction of the senior council, and that didn't happen in this book. That was a disappointment for me and why I knock a whole star off my rating.
I "read" the audio version of the book, narrated by James Marsters. Marsters does an excellent job of making Dresden's world seem real. He is engaging, and his narration really makes Dresden and the other characters come to life.
Despite my quibble, this is a wonderful installment in the Dresden Files series. If you've read the previous books you probably know that already. If you've never picked up any of these books I highly recommend that you do.