Review: ‘Turn Coat’ by Jim Butcher (audio)


Turn Coat

Dresden Files #11

Author: Jim Butcher

Format: audio book

Publisher: Penguin Audio Books

Release Date: 4/10/2009

Length: 14 hour 40 minutes (a 576 page paperback also resides amongst my other Dresden Files books)


Sample chapters


The blurb from the website:

The Warden Morgan has been accused of treason against the Wizards of the White Council–and there’s only one, final punishment for that crime. He’s on the run, wants his name cleared, and needs someone with a knack for backing the underdog. Someone like Harry Dresden.

Now, Harry must uncover a traitor within the Council, keep a less-than-agreeable Morgan under wraps, and avoid coming under scrutiny himself. And a single mistake may cost someone his head–someone like Harry.


My spoiler-riddled thoughts:

“The Wardens are coming. Hide me. Please.” Not the words Harry would have ever expected to hear from White Council Warden Donald Morgan, who shows up at Harry’s door, bloodied and scared, and then passes out.

After Waldo Butters patches him up and he regains consciousness, Morgan tells Harry how he’s been framed for the murder of one of the Senior Council, Wizard LaFortier. They discuss the situation and both understand that it had to have been an inside job. Harry smells the Black Council all over it. He decides to help Morgan in order to stop the traitor, lest the treachery continue he possibly finds himself the victim of a future frame.

After a run to Thomas’ apartment to pick up a medical kit for Morgan, Harry senses something following him. He can’t spot a tail so he decides to take a gander with his Wizard’s Sight and boy, does he ever get an eyeful.  What he sees is so horrific, so utterly wrong, that he literally wrecks his car and staggers, sick, disoriented andcounting prime numbers all the while to keep from losing his mind, to Billy and Georgia’s nearby apartment.

After recovering, he realizes that the creature followed him and when it somehow cuts power to the entire neighborhood, Harry heads out with several of the Alphas to confront it. It doesn’t go well. The creature rips through the kids and gets away, leaving one of the Alphas dead and one near death. Harry thinks that he knows what it is, though… a skinwalker.

On his way home to finally tend to Morgan, Harry runs into Karrin Murphy. She was told of the wrecked and impounded Blue Beetle, and then heard about the power outage and the disturbance in Billy’s neighborhood, added it all together and came up with Harry Dresden. He tells her what’s been going on as she drives him home and we get a quick Murphy update to summarize the first few chapters:

“So let me get this straight, you’re hiding a fugitive from your own people’s cops, and you think the guy’s been set up in order to touch off a civil war within the White Council. And there’s some kind of Navajo boogeyman loose in town, following you around and attempting to kill you…”

Yup, that’s about it so far, Murph!

With Thomas’ help, Harry stashes Morgan, Molly and Mouse in a storage container he’s set up as an emergency bolthole and then heads to Edinburgh Scotland, via the Nevernever. He chats with Ebenezar McCoy about Morgan’s likely innocence and then seeks out Injun Joe Listens-To-Wind who’s investigating the scene of the murder. He then chats with the Merlin and offers his services in clearing Morgan’s name… so the Merlin instructs Peabody, a clerk, to hand over the file on the case to Warden Dresden. Peabody does so but Harry refuses to sign it out, he just takes it, much to the clerk’s chagrin.

Back at the ranch… erm, Harry’s basement apartment, rather… he and Murphy look over the file to see what they can see, which isn’t much. Except for the gigantic sum of money that was deposited into Morgan’s account, making it look like he was paid off to kill LaFortier. Murph suggests trying to follow the money but then Harry then gets an urgent call from his brother.

Thomas sounds frantic and tells Harry that he needs to get to the storage unit, that he can’t handle them all. The call is cut off so Harry and Murph beat it over to the storage facility where they find a whole crowd of creepy identical constructs which Harry refers to as grey suits and later on, as grey men (no, not those Gray Men) being controlled by a practitioner called Binder. Binder has apparently been hired to find Morgan and has tracked him to the area. Working together, Molly and Morgan manage to circle him and cut him off from the Nevernever so that the constructs fail and he’s alone… and then Murphy takes him down and cuffs him. She waits for the cops while Harry, Morgan, Molly and Mouse beat it out of there.

They discuss how they might have been found and Molly points out that they knew Morgan was in the vicinity but not which storage unit so they decide to go back to Harry’s place in order to reacquire the apparently non-magical tail that they seem to have picked up. Harry’s hoping to find out who hired Binder by first finding out who’s tailing him. With a little help from Toot-toot, who’s now a foot tall Harry finds a PI in the building across the street. Molly comes through with the assist and discovers that the PI was hired by a law firm. Harry goes a’calling. Only he discovers that the lawyer who did the hiring has had her mind tampered with, by a female White Court vampire. Hmmm, let me see… an ancient, evil skinwalker (which is essentially shape-shifter that can veil itself) and the Black Council together are a kind of a walk in the park for Harry so, I know! Let’s toss in some vampires to spice this plot up a bit!

Harry returns home to find Luccio at his apartment and poor Morgan gets his cold, hard Warden heart broken when he realizes that Luccio and Harry are involved. His reaction is actually kind of touching and sad. And then, oh yeah, you remember what an ass he can be and you get over it.

Harry takes Luccio along to meet with Lara Raith, thinking that she must have hired the lawyer that hired the PI that… well, you know. It’s rather obvious from their conversation that she’s not responsible and she takes the opportunity to dress down Harry and the White Council in general for a moment before alarms start going off. Chateau Raith is under attack. And Harry realizes that it’s the skinwalker. Oh, boy.

The skinwalker, henceforth known as Shagnasty, pretty much rips Harry, Lara and everyone else a new one before getting down to the nitty gritty. He tells Harry that he has Thomas and offers to trade him for the doomed warrior. Great, the bloody skinwal– erm, Shagnasty wants Morgan, too. That guy knows how to piss people off, alright.

Before heading out to figure out just how the hell he might orchestrate the rescue of his brother, a wounded and drugged Justine talks with Harry within Luccio’s hearing. She says enough that Luccio is able to deduce that Thomas is Harry’s brother and then reveals to Harry that she knew their mother.

Harry visits Murphy at SI headquarters where she’s holding Binder. She releases him and Harry’s newly hired PI (who quit the job tailing Harry because he wasn’t into the attempted murder thing) follows Binder to a hotel. Harry arrives and overhears Binder speaking to Madeline Raith who mentions that she tipped the Council off to Morgan’s whereabouts.

Great. So much for having time to solve the case. The clock, as they say, is now ticking and Harry is feeling a bit overwhelmed. He thinks at this point, ‘Maybe it was time to admit it, this one was too big for me. It had been from the very start.’ 

Harry formulates a plan and decides to move Morgan to the Water Beetle. They head out to the creepy island in Lake Michigan on which the Denarians held Marcone and Ivy in Small Favor. Harry leaves Murph on the mainland but they have a very touching conversation before he goes. Knowing the events at the end of Changes actually makes this little chat a lot more heart-wrenching than it was the first couple of times I read it!

On the island, Harry leaves Morgan and Molly on the boat and travels to the broken down tower on top of the hill. There, he performs a sanctum invocation to create a bond with the land, which he isn’t sure he will survive. But he does. As he later described it to Wizard Rashid of the Senior Council, he punched the spirit of the island, which is a genius loci, in the nose and now they’re friends. He names the island Demonreach and when he is on the island, he has access to the island’s latent energy which will give his own spells a bit of an extra punch. He also seems to have developed an awareness of anything and everything on the island, provided he is there.

Harry heads back to the mainland to take care of a few details in order to set his plan into motion. One such detail is calling the White Council to tell them he’s got Morgan and that he’ll be on the island at sundown, with a witness that can testify to Morgan’s innocence. He then calls Lara Raith who tells him that the money in Morgan’s account came from a dummy corporation owned by the Raith family. Lara realizes that her cousin, Madeline Raith is responsible and is working for someone that’s trying to play the White Council against the White Court. Harry invites her along for the festivities on the island that evening, too.

Harry has also arranged for Shagnasty to be informed at the opportune time that Morgan is on the island and that Harry will trade him for Thomas. His hope is that with a little help from his fellow wizards and a few White Court vamps, he’ll be able to take out the skinwalker, thereby rescuing his brother without tipping the Council to the fact that they’re related. It was actually rather fortuitous that Madeline Raith betrayed her cousin and their house, it gave Harry the excuse of bringing Lara in to declare her innocence and demand the return of her brother.

But nothing ever goes as planned, does it? At least not as planned by Harry. Ah, well… you know what they say about the best laid plans of Mouse and grey men… and wizards.

Ebenezar, Ancient Mai and Injun Jo Listens-to-Wind arrive at Demonreach via boat, several Wardens in tow -not literally, they were actually aboard the boat- to arrest Harry. They pause when Lara Raith and her sisters pop in and Lara makes a show of blaming Harry for her brother’s abduction. Harry then senses dozens of beings arriving on the island and realizes that Madeline and Binder have arrived, and that Binder has summoned gray men from the Nevernever. A lot of them.

As if that weren’t enough, Harry senses more arrivals and concludes that the traitor has taken the bait… and he’s brought a hell of a lot of friends. The  wizards and the vamps form a temporary alliance and rush to meet their attackers. A frenzied battle ensues. I won’t detail that battle here but it features werewolves, a crispy vamp, giant spiders and pixies. It’s a pretty damn good battle. You should read it. Chapter 42, page 417 in the paperback.

Battle, fighting, fire, blood, etc., and the time eventually comes when Harry senses that Shagnasty has arrived on the island with Thomas. It heads uphill to the tower and Harry races to beat him to the top because Morgan and Molly are holed up inside the little cottage near the tower. Another furious battle ensues, between Harry and Shagnasty. Harry actually holds his own for a little bit and then Toot-toot is there, attacking the creature, brave and stupid as he can be. After poor Toot is swatted out of the air and lands in some bushes, Listens-to-Wind shows up… and proceeds to kick the skinwalker’s ass. Which. Absolutely. Rocks.

With foes fled or defeated, Thomas rescued but taken by Lara, and no traitor outed, Harry, Molly and Mouse, head to Edinburgh for Morgan’s trial. Harry has a picture provided by his PI (say that three times fast) of a White Council member that traveled the Way through the Nevernever and had no business being in Chicago the previous evening… so he presents his photographic evidence and is scoffed at, as expected.

But then Mouse testifies. As such. He growls at the White Council clerk and Harry states that Mouse smelled him when he entered Chicago from the Nevernever the previous evening. Ancient Mai, among others, attests to the fact that Mouse is a genuine Foo dog and so his word… or his growl rather, is taken as testimony and the traitor is found.

And then he escapes.

The Merlin shows off a bit of his own badassery by organizing the Council, sending Harry after Peabody and fending off the wicked killer mist that Peabody had unleashed upon the assembled wizards before fleeing. Harry catches him but is unable to best him and is surprised by the arrival of Morgan who saves Harry’s life yet again when he shoots Peabody in the head. Twice. Wizards follow the double tap rule, too.

Morgan, sadly, doesn’t survive his wounds and massive blood loss, but expresses his thanks in a roundabout way and tells Harry the truth: Luccio killed LaFortier and that he was trying to protect his old master and mentor… the woman he loved.

It turns out that Peabody had been messing with a whole bunch of minds of the members of the White Council. He was responsible for Luccio’s actions and so she had absolutely no memory of the murder she had committed. She also wasn’t aware of what Morgan had done for her. Sadly, Peabody was even responsible for her relationship with Harry so that she could keep close tabs on him and Harry endured a rather uncomfortable Luccio breaking it off with him after they’d both recovered somewhat from their wounds.

To Harry, the most devastating casualty of the whole conflict was the end of his brother’s attempt to rein in his hunger. Thomas’ torture at the hands of the skinwalker was utterly devastating to him and it destroyed his inhibitions about feeding heavily upon and even killing humans. He now only sees people as food, food, food. Harry is horrified but promises to give Thomas time and space even though Thomas doesn’t see his new attitude as being a problem. He’s accepted his demon. Embraced it, even.

Harry also saw a bit of an entry in Ebenezar’s journal regarding Harry and Demonreach. It alludes to the fact that the island is more than an island and that it involves a mantle that he wouldn’t mind seeing Harry take up. Then it says, “I trust his judgement. Then again, I trusted Maggie’s, too.” Just a couple of morsels to nibble on until we find out from a future book what the hell all of that means!

All in all, Turn Coat was yet another action-packed Dresden Files adventure. There are so many things happening, not just in this book but in this leg of the series, that it’s somewhat difficult to keep it all straight! This is one reason I include spoilers galore in these write-ups, so that later on, I can read through them and actually remember the events of the books.

Next in the line-up is book #12, Changes. I’ve only listened to this book once, when it was released last year… so if you think my last couple of Dresden reviews are long, I apologize in advance for the next one. Of course, the next installment in the series–#13, Ghost Story–was released two days ago but I won’t be listening to the audio. Instead, I’ll be reading the hardcover in a couple of weeks, so that review take a little while to be published.

And now, Mr. Marsters… you may begin.


My own personal summary:

The one in which Harry: discovers a wounded Donald Morgan at his door and then hides him from the Wardens who are after him for the murder of a member of the Senior Council; encounters a Nagloshi Skinwalker which kills one of the Alphas; visits a kinky vamp club where Thomas beats the crap out of his cousin; travels to White Council headquarters in Ediburgh, Scotland via the Nevernever; makes an offer to the Merlin to find the real killer and clear Morgan’s name; hires a PI; performs a Sanctum invocation on the creepy island from Small Favor, survives and comes away with some kind of bond with the island which he names Demonreach; arranges a meeting of Senior Council members and White Court vamps on Demonreach to simultaneously draw out and expose the White Council traitor and rescue Thomas from the skinwalker; takes Mouse to wizard court as a witness; joins a secret wizard group; gets dumped; and introduces Butters to the Alphas.


Fave quotes:

“He was wrong. It doesn’t make him a villain. It just makes him an asshole.” ~Harry to Butters, about Morgan

“Oh, bite me wizard boy.” ~Butters to Harry

‘You can’t abandon life just because it’s scary, and just because sometimes you get hurt.’ 

‘Sometimes irony is a lot like a big old kick in the balls.’

“Madeline, go away before I beat you to death with my bare hands.” ~Thomas to his cousin, Madeline Raith

“You… are… vastly irritating.” ~Morgan to Harry

‘How the hell was I supposed to do the right thing, if there wasn’t a right thing?’

“If a revolver was good enough for Indiana Jones, it’s good enough for me.” ~Harry to Murphy

“If you knew half the things I’ve done that you think are impossible, you’d already be running.” ~Harry to Binder

“You’re a real humanitarian. A regular Mother Theresa.” ~Harry to Lara Raith

“Murph, you’re one hell of a dame.” ~Harry

“I swear. I swear to God, Morgan, if you don’t explain yourself, I’m going to strangle you dead with my own hands and drag your corpse back to Edinburgh by the balls.” ~Harry

“I feel less left out now that I know someone might kill me anyway.” ~Murphy

“I’d rather have you covering my back than anyone in the world, Karrin. You might be the best friend I ever had.” ~Harry

‘Fire erupted in an explosion that lifted the skinwalker another dozen feet into the air, tumbling tail over teakettle, an expression that makes no goddamn sense whatsoever, yet seemed oddly appropriate to the moment.’

“Don’t plan to bind you or banish you old ghost, just gonna kick your ass up between your ears.” ~Injun Joe to Shagnasty

“This is Waldo Butters, and his geek penis is longer and harder than all of ours put together.” ~Harry to Will and Georgia


Check out my other Dresden Files reviews:

#1 – Storm Front

#2 – Fool Moon

#3 – Grave Peril

#4 – Summer Knight

#5 – Death Masks

#6 – Blood Rites

#7 – Dead Beat

#8 – Proven Guilty

#9 – White Night

#10 – Small Favor

#12 – Changes

#12.5 – Side Jobs

#13 – Ghost Story

4 thoughts on “Review: ‘Turn Coat’ by Jim Butcher (audio)

    • Yeah, it was interesting to see what a Senior Council member could do first hand!

      And Butters really is awesome. I like how Butcher had planned for him to be a one-book character and liked him so much that he kept him around. :o)


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