Quick-take: A murder-mystery with a touch of fantasy.
Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a wizard and private investigator. He is short on his bills, so he is very compelled to accept an odd case from a wealthy woman in search of her missing husband. He accepts it and then gets a called from the police about a very strange murder. Dresden only gets called for the truly bizarre. With that, I will leave this narrative.
"Storm Front" is a part whodunit and part fantasy magic. It is a pretty interesting take on crime fiction. As the story progresses, we are introduced more to the Dresden Files magic system. The rules and mechanics of the magic seem a touch haphhazard. It feels like Jim Butcher will introduce a new rule to the magic or give Harry Dresden a new power whenever it is conveneint or entertaining to the story.
Another bit of a problem I had: There is absolutely no reason for Harry Dresden to be broke and self-loathing. Harry Dresden prides himself on not being interested in worldly matters. He also has no significant other (despite women being interested in him in the book), owns no expensive gadgets, wears old clothes, and drives an old car. His only responsibilities are himself and a cat.
To top it off, this guy is a wizard. He is the only wizard-dectivie in all of Chicago. I'd think his services would be in extreme demand... and my thought seems to have merit when a thread of the story is basically him juggling 3 wealthy clients charging them $50/hour + expenses in 2000-era dollars.
So the magic system is a bit off. The motivations are a bit off. What about the crime story? It is actually decent. Throughout the entire novel, I could not figure out who did the crime. There is a lot of dots Harry Dresden needs to connect, and decent execution of this story arc is the highlight of the book. Score 3/5, and I am on the fence about getting book 2.