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Lessons from the Aether: A Clueless Wizard Keeps the Mystery Alive Until the End

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Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only Wizard Detective, says so right there on the phone book, is the protagonist of The Dresden Files, a long running Urban Fantasy series staring the above mentioned detective. The mix of occult elements and detective noir with a snarky edge gives this book series a powerful edge. But at heart it is still about a hard boiled private eye trying to solve the mystery of the week. And the author uses a particular tool of the genre with great skill.

First person point of view.

Everything we see, hear or known comes from Harry PoV. That channels the amount of information the reader gets as well as his understanding of said information. The reader may speculate, but he doesn’t have anything more to go on than Harry does. It is also a great way to set up all kinds of red herrings, created mainly by Harry’s own theories based on incomplete information to the point where more than once (if not all the time) Harry charges into a situation half-blind and figures out what is going on while shots (and worse) fill the air. This keeps the reveal (and the reveal is often multilayered) and the final twist mostly intact until the very end of the story, although Butcher is not above rewarding the reader for figuring out stuff on their own.

If you want an excellent example of the effective use of PoV to keep a mystery alive, look no further than The Dresden Files.



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