Grimshaw Griswald Grimsby is not a member of the magical elite. Nor is he an Auditor, after being kicked out of the training program for being “not Department material.” Still, he’s convinced he’s got skills and he hasn’t given up hope that he’ll still be able to prove himself. But it soon won’t be a case of ‘hoping’ to prove himself, but a necessity.
Grimshaw’s mentor, sometimes known as the most dangerous witch alive, is murdered, just down the street from where Grimshaw works and now the Auditors have put Grimshaw as their number one suspect.
With Auditors on his tail, supposedly the best of the best, Grimsby forms an alliance with ‘the Huntsman’ aka Mayflower – a retired legend – and a creature from ‘Elsewhere’ named Wudge and he’ll need to step up his own game to stay ahead of the Auditors and try to find the one who actually killed his mentor.
I knew, going in to this book, that this wasn’t a Jim Butcher (author of The Dresden Files series) novel. I was not aware at the time that James J. Butcher is Jim Butcher’s son. But not knowing this, I couldn’t understand how or why someone would publish a book that resembled Harry Dresden and The Dresden Files so much. And it does … it does resemble Chicago’s best-known wizard. Clearly James J. has learned a thing or two from Jim.
There are more than a fair number of similarities between Grimshaw and Harry Dresden – both talented in magic and both more than a bit rogue within their communities. But there are plenty of differences as well. Grismby isn’t the hardened, grizzled old wizard. He’s young – college-aged – and hasn’t seen it all … yet. He’s a bit more unsure of himself and, by necessity, throws in with those who may or may not be good for him.
There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of world-building here. This is our world with one difference – magic is out there and everyone knows it. Otherwise this is a fairly typical urban fantasy, fitting right in alongside his father’s works or that of Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye series.
Grimsby and Mayflower are fun characters to follow and I suspect that this companionship will generate some fun stories. They are, with this first book (a debut novel) little more than stereotypes – pretty much the same character types you’d see in way too much urban fantasy. Hopefully, as the books continue, these characters and their relationship will grow and develop to become much more unique.
Looking for a good book? Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher is a decent debut, urban fantasy novel with room to grow the characters. Being the child of a famous author will earn Butcher some interest, but he’ll need to step up and work harder than most to prove he’s fit for the arena.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Dead Man’s Hand
author: James J. Butcher
series: The Unorthodox Chronicles #1
hardcover, 384 pages