It was strangely hard to find a book authored by an author starting with the letter B. I guess we don't have that many I want to read over and over. I'd read Clive Barker's Imajica and Holly Black's Tithe in the previous rereads. So this time I was a bit of a quandary.
In the end I decided to go with a favourite author and a favourite series in the first of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. I am aware that's not the current cover. It is however the cover that my edition has, and I also prefer it to the newer ones. I have nothing against Chris McGrath as a cover artist, but I just prefer the earlier Dresden Files covers.
Picking the opening book of a long running unfinished series gave me a few more questions to ask. Should I just read the first one, or go ahead and reread the whole 15 published so far. As the Dresden Files books are fairly episodic and self contained I decided that reading the first one only would be okay (I will reread the whole thing one day, but probably wait until the penultimate volume comes out).
I think Storm Front may get a bit of bum rap from readers. Fans now claim that Storm Front really isn't that good and the series doesn't take off until the 3rd book. This may stem from the fact that it's the first book and it was written 16 years ago now. It hasn't dated badly, but there are things in it that do make it come across more as a product of its time.
When Butcher first wrote the books he had the idea to make his hero come across as a hard boiled private eye type, that's probably why he chose Chicago as his setting. He does a pretty good job of channeling Raymond Chandler in this one, the books do move further away from that style as the story unfolds, though.
It is true that in this first book the writing is fairly raw and some things hadn't been thought through at this point, but it moves along briskly and sets Harry up as the old fashioned type he is.
The author also established some of the recurring characters in it. Karrin Murphy, the feisty little cop makes her first appearance as did the sexy, but tough, reporter, Susan Rodrigues. Readers first met the spirit in a skull Bob and Harry's giant cat Mister. Gangster Johnny Marcone and his hulking bodyguard Hendricks made their first appearances, as did Bianca; the head of Chicago's thriving vampire community (something that established book's urban fantasy credentials, that and the fact that Harry is a practicing wizard).
I'm happy to report that the suck fairy did not visit Storm Front, and it remains the fresh, fun story it was when I first read it over 10 years ago now.
I may have to delve back even further to find a suitable C author.