Paranormal investigations are Harry Dresden's business, and Chicago is his beat as he tries to bring law and order to a world of wizards and monsters that exist alongside everyday life. And though most inhabitants of the Windy City don't believe in magic, the Special Investigations department of the Chicago PD knows better.
Karrin Murphy is the head of SI and Harry's good friend. So when a killer vampire threatens to destroy Murphy's reputation unless Harry does her bidding, he has no choice. The vampire wants the Word of Kemmler (whatever that is) and all the power that comes with it. Now Harry is in a race against time -- and six merciless necromancers -- to find the Word before Chicago experiences a Halloween night to wake the dead...."
Karrin Murphy ventures on a vacation to Hawaii with Jared Kincaid, while Harry is left in Chicago. Harry is contacted by a Black Court vampire Mavra who is searching for the Word of Kemmler. If Harry does not deliver, Murphy will pay the price. While checking out a corpse in the morgue, he and Waldo Butters are attacked by a necromancer. The two manage to escape alive and Harry briefs Butters on the workings of the supernatural world. He leaves Butters at his home under the protection of his wards and Thomas Raith, and heads off to find information. Harry visits Artemis Bock, a bookseller at Bock Ordered Books, and meets Shiela Starr who helps him find Die Lied der Erlking. On the way out he is attacked by a strange man called Cowl, and his assistant Kumori. Harry and Cowl fight, and Harry manages to make a quick gettaway with Billy Borden.
Back at Billy's place, Harry overhears some of Georgia's concerns about Harry's behavior. Harry tells them about the consequences of picking up Lasciel's coin. Harry investigates further, and gathers more clues. With the help of Mortimer Lindquist, he discovers there are necromatic hot spots across Chicago. Harry follows the hot spots on Morty's map and one leads him to the Field Museum where Harry overhears parts of a murder investigation. A visiting Professor, Dr. Bartlesby who was examining a colletion of Kahokian artifacts, was found murdered that morning. Detective Henry Rawlins shows him pictures of Bartlesby two assistants: Alicia Nelson and Li Xian.
The second time Harry visits Bock's shop, he is attacked by Corpsetaker, another necromancer who had been posing as Alicia Nelson, who was Dr. Bartlesby's assistant. As the Corpsetaker tries to invade Harry's mind, he willingly calls upon Hellfire. Harry barely manages to escape with the help of Gentleman Marcone and Gard who conveniently show up and save him; however, he has lost the Erlking book. Marcone willingly gives Harry names of two EMTs: Jason Lamar and Gary Simmons, Marcone drops Harry off at Cook County Hospital.
While being attended to at Cook County Hospital, Jason Lamar tells Dresden how the necromancer Kumori brought one of Marcone's men back to life. This explains why Kumori did not get involved in Harry's fight with Cowl outside of Bock's book shop & leads Harry to question whether the use of necromancy should always be considered black magic.
Back at his basement apartment Harry, Thomas, and Butters come under the assault of Grevane and Quintus Cassius. and a not so small army of zombies. They are seeking the data from the USB jump drive Harry and Butters had retrieved from corpse of Bony Tony Mendoza and in the ensuing battle manage to overcome Harry's wards & capture Butters. Harry trades the information for Butters. After Corpsetaker and Li Xian arrive and do battle with Grevane and Liver Spots, Harry, Thomas and Butters manage to escape. They seek refuge at Murphy's home.
Plot points introducedEdit
- Bob is revealed to have served the necromancer Heinrich Kemmler before serving Justin DuMorne.
- The shadow of Lasciel begins to appear to Harry, after he intentionally infuses his magic with Hellfire for the first time.
- Harry becomes one of the wardens.
- Warden Commander Luccio is forced into a younger body by the necromancer Corpsetaker.