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For Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, there have been worse assignments than going undercover... read more
It’s late autumn, four years after Storm Front, and over a year since the events in Death Masks (page 161). After dinner at McAnnally’s with Thomas Raith, Dresden offers to drive him home, but first, he has an errand to run. Dresden has been hired to rescue a litter of Tibetan Temple puppies... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
It’s late autumn, four years after Storm Front, and over a year since the events in Death Masks (page 161). After dinner at McAnnally’s with Thomas Raith, Dresden offers to drive him home, but first, he has an errand to run. Dresden has been hired to rescue a litter of Tibetan Temple puppies for Brother Wang. The puppies are held in an abandoned school "by purple pyromaniac gorillas." Dresden and Thomas rescue the pups, send the demon gorillas back to Nevernever, and make it to O’Hare to deliver the puppies just before Brother Wang’s flight leaves.
On the ride home, Dresden discovers that one puppy had slipped out of the box and hid himself under the back seat of the Blue Beetle. Brother Wang's flight is long gone. The puppy has the ability to sense dark magic. He barks madly just before a vampire attack, giving Dresden time to fend off the vampire. The puppy fits comfortably in Dresden’s duster pocket, so he brings the puppy along for the ride until he can return it to Brother Wang.
Thomas introduces Dresden to a friend, Arturo Genosa. Arturo hires Dresden to investigate the suspicious deaths of two women. Arturo suspects that a strega death-cursed the women. Arturo is a movie producer, who is breaking away from a major studio and starting his own company. Some powerful people do not like this - and they are probably not above murder. Dresden explains that "strega" entropy curses are nebulous things that cannot be backtracked. Dresden can only detect the caster if he is present, when the curse is cast. Arturo agrees to this condition. Dresden will pose as a production assistant, nose around the film set, and apprehend the strega.
Mavra and her scourge of vampires are in town, complicating Dresden's life. He survives their first attack. Dresden makes an uncharacteristic decision to exterminate them before they can kill him. He enlists Murphy to help him hunt down and destroy the vampires on Saturday - and babysit the puppy. Dresden needs more muscle for the vampire hunt, so he hires Kincaid, the mercenary who works as The Archive’s bodyguard.
The next day, Dresden shows up early at the film studio. They are shooting a porn film. Dresden meets the male porn actors Jake, a friendly guy, and Bobby, a not-so-friendly guy. The female lead is absent. Joan, the producer and Jill of all trades, puts him to work assembling the equipment. When the next curse hits the studio, Dresden is able to rush to the scene and save the lives of porn stars Giselle and Jake. Dresden had sensed the extremely powerful energy of the curse as it zeroed in on Giselle. Dresden realizes that Arturo is not the target of the strega; the women in his life are marked for death. The situation feels like a woman’s vendetta. Arturo has three ex-wives. The question is which one is the strega.
Giselle will live, but she’s out of the picture. Her replacement is the supernaturally-attractive Lara Romany (Lara Raith, a White Court vampire). Inari, Lara’s little sister, is on the set, too. Dresden is angry with Thomas for getting him involved. Dresden, Thomas, Lara (Thomas' older sister) and Inari (Thomas’ younger sister) discuss the political implications of Dresden’s investigation. Lara decides that Dresden must die - and little brother Thomas, too. She shoots Thomas. Before she can shoot Dresden, they are jumped by Mavra’s minions, who have been ordered to kill everyone. Lara and Dresden agree to a 24-hr truce. They team up and exterminate Mavra’s minions.
Thomas is dying. He used up his energy reserves in the fight. Inari’s arm is shattered. Lara and Dresden evacuate them to the Raith mansion for medical attention. Lara offers Dresden the hospitality of her home. Dresden accepts her hospitality on behalf of himself and Thomas. Now, Lara is bound by the Old World rules governing hospitality; she is even required to defend Dresden and Thomas, if the Black Court attacks them while they are under her roof. Lord Raith, her father and the King of the White Court vampires, is not bound by her word. Lord Raith greets Dresden rather coolly. Later, Raith sends a drugged and confused Inari to Dresden’s room to feed on him. When Inari tries to feed, she is burned.
Thomas arrives just in time to hustle Inari away to sleep off the drug. He explains that Inari was burned, because Dresden is still protected by Susan’s love. Thomas has another surprise for Dresden. In Lord Raith’s gallery, he shows Dresden the painting of their mother, Margaret Gwendolyn LeFay. Thomas is Dresden’s half-brother and six, maybe seven, years his senior. Dresden is furious, and refuses to believe Thomas, calling him pathetic. Thomas pleads that Inari needs their help against Raith’s machinations. Thomas was hoping that this blood tie would convince Dresden to help him. Seeking the truth, Dresden soulgazes with Thomas. The soulgaze gives Dresden a vision of their long dead mother. She has a message for him: help each other. Dresden agrees to help Thomas save Inari from Lord Raith.
But first, Dresden needs to deal with Mavra; and then, he needs to head off the next attack of the entropy curse. Dresden meets Kincaid and Lt. Murphy at the IHOP to coordinate the raid on Mavra and her scourge. As soon as Dresden discovers their location, they will attack later in the day-–before sunset. Dresden hurries back to the studio to prevent the next curse. He drafts Jake into helping draw a magical lightning rod. While they are inscribing it on the floor with chalk, Jake lets it drop that Arturo is getting married for the fourth time. With the lightning rod done, Dresden phones Murphy. She confirms that Arturo has a marriage license for Thursday. The fax is blurred, so she cannot read the name of the bride-to-be. Unlike the prior three wives, this Mrs. Genosa was not required to sign a pre-nuptial agreement. If Arturo dies, she will inherit everything, which is the motive.
Just as Dresden is putting all the pieces together, Trixie surprises him. She holds him at gunpoint, so he cannot interfere with the curse. Oh, and they found his magical drawing on the floor and smudged it. Trixie and her co-conspirators have no idea who Arturo is marrying, so they are killing all the women around him. The next curse will kill Emma, the last starlet left on the movie set. Desperate to save Emma, Dresden jumps Trixie. She fires wildly. Dresden wrestles the gun away from her. The curse controls two of the wild shots. Emma is dead.
Trixie screams that Dresden killed Emma. The entire cast and crew see him holding the gun. Dresden doesn’t have time to talk to Chicago PD. He needs that time to take out Mavra and her scourge. Dresden drops Trixie’s gun and runs.
Back as his apartment, Bob gives Dresden the location and a site map of the vampire hideout. Mavra is in the basement of a homeless shelter, so she and her kind can feed on people who won’t be missed. The wheelman for Dresden’s raid arrives. It’s Dresden’s mentor and former teacher, Ebenezar McCoy. He agrees to help dampen Mavra’s sorcerous powers, as well as drive the getaway truck. They pick up Murphy from her family picnic and rendezvous with Kincaid.
Kincaid and Ebenezar know each other from before, and share mutual hatred. Kincaid calls Ebenezar a "Blackstaff." A term for a wizard allowed by the council to kill with magic. Harry is shocked. They give their word to Dresden for a temporary truce, so they can shut down Mavra and her scourge. Impersonating Red Cross workers, Kincaid and Murphy evacuate the homeless people and shelter staff from the ground floor. Gas leak, everyone outside! Ebenezar keeps the truck running, while they go into the basement lair.
They locate the vampire’s food supply. It’s a closet full of children. After unchaining the children, they are surprised by Mavra and her human henchmen, armed with flamethrowers. As an older vampire, Mavra doesn’t need to sleep in the daytime. Her men flame them with napalm, setting the building on fire. Dresden’s shield protects them, but it absorbs the heat energy, incinerating his left hand. Ignoring the agony, Dresden lashes back at them. The human henchmen are destroyed, but all he did was make Mavra angry. Without hesitation, Dresden shoots Mavra with a special weapon loaded with alternating rounds of holy water and garlic. Mavra is shredded. Kincaid beheads the other vampires. Gathering the children, they flee the burning building.
Kincaid gives Dresden three days to pay him or die. Kincaid leaves to take another contract. Murphy and Dresden take the rescued children to Fr. Forthill. Ebenezar explains that a Blackstaff is the White Council’s assassin. Also, he tells Dresden that his mother, Margaret LeFay, was his apprentice. And finally, Margaret was murdered by Lord Raith.
Dresden figures out the identities of Trixie’s accomplices, as well as their sponsor. Dresden and Murphy take on the sponsor - Lord Raith - for the murder of Margaret and the entropy-cursed movie starlets. The confrontation in the Deeps, a cavern system near Chicago, ends the entropy curse and culminates in a coup. Lara displaces Lord Raith. She makes her father into a puppet, so their enemies won’t see any weakness in House Raith or the White Court.
Banished from House Raith, Thomas moves into Dresden's apartment. He proves his usefulness by doing needful things. He acquires painkillers for Dresden’s burned hand. He pays off the mercenary Kincaid, so Dresden wouldn't be executed for non-payment. And, Thomas buys a bag of puppy chow for Mouse - large breed puppy chow.
Source: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Rites_(novel))
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