Dead Beat (novel)
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (January 2012)|
|Cover artist||Christian McGrath|
|Series||The Dresden Files|
|Publication date||May 3, 2005|
|Published in English||May 3, 2005|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.6 22|
|LC Classification||PS3602.U85 D43 2005|
|Preceded by||Blood Rites|
|Followed by||Proven Guilty|
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (May 2013)|
It's three days before Halloween and nearly a year after the events in Blood Rites. Mavra, from the previous novel, orders Dresden to locate The Word of Kemmler for her within 3 days, or Murphy will be set up for the murder of one of Mavra's minions last year. Dresden consults his spirit assistant Bob who, he learns, used to belong to Kemmler, the most powerful necromancer in a thousand years. Bob, accessing a buried part of himself, does know The Word but by talking in riddles he nearly tricks Harry into killing himself through an improvised ritual, as a punishment for trying to steal "the Master's" secrets.
Searching for the book, he finds a copy and meets Sheila, a helpful clerk with a perfect memory. Along the way, Dresden repeatedly saves Waldo Butters, a coroner working at the morgue, as well as others from a group of necromancers looking for the book, gradually learning everyone is looking for The Word as well as a book about a fairy known as the Erlking, in preparation for the Darkhallow, an event that will take place on Halloween. Desperate for information, Dresden consults Mab, learning that the Erlking is a powerful fairy lord able to summon the spirits of dead hunters for the Wild Hunt. Kemmler devised a way to devour the energy of the dead to increase his own power, hiding the spell in The Word. Commbined with the Erlking's spirits, Kemmler's spell can turn a human into a demigod.
The next day is Halloween. Overwhelmed, Dresden calls on the White Council for support. Remembering Sheila's perfect memory, he meets with her to gain the spell to summon the Erlking, hoping to divert the fairy to prevent the success of the necromancer ritual. Meeting with the Wardens arriving to deal with Kemmler's apprentices, Captain Luccio deputizes him as a Warden and a regional commander.
After planning, Dresden summons and traps the Erlking, but Cowl attacks Dresden forcing him to lose concentration. The Erlking escapes and summons the Wild Hunt. Cowl distracts Dresden, while Kumori kidnaps Bob. Dresden and Butters go to Sheila's for help from the Erlking book. Butters tells Dresden that he is talking to himself in an empty room, and Dresden realizes Sheila is imaginary and the working of Lasciel. Banishing the phantom, Dresden realizes the flash drive data are GPS coordinates.
After stealing a GPS unit, Butters locates 'The Word' in the Field Museum - next to Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Grevane and his associate close in on them. Harry tells Butters and Mouse to flee to safety. Dresden quickly flips through 'The Word', so Lasciel can read it. Grevane captures Dresden and takes 'The Word'. He gives the manacled Dresden to his associate, Quintus Cassius, the former host for Saluriel who Dresden previously brutally assaulted and humiliated. Cassius begins torturing Dresden, but Butters returns with Mouse, who attacks and kills Cassius. Forewarned, Cassius gives Dresden his death curse as he dies "DIE ALONE." The powerful curse knocks Dresden unconscious. He dreams that he makes a truce with Lasciel and she translates the German text of 'The Word' for him.
To be able to go near the Darkhallow, one must surround oneself with traces of necromancer-magic (by performing it). With Butters as his drummer, Dresden raises Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex from the dead, and they head to the gathering maelstrom over a local college. The five wardens are already on campus, fighting a group of zombies. Dresden runs Sue into the zombies and splatters them. The zombies sideline Warden Yoshimo. Sue eats Li.
A wave of specters appear from underneath the Earth and attack the Wardens. Warden Kowalski dies during the battle. Captain Luccio is attacked by Capiocorpus and Luccio impales Capiocorpus but Capriocorpus switches bodies with Luccio and when Harry enters the alley, he is greeted by Capiocorpus in Luccio's body.
Dresden recognizes Capriocorpus within Luccio's body and shoots her dead. Warden Morgan witnesses the shooting and it reinforces his belief that Harry is a traitor. Morgan viciously attacks Dresden and is about to kill him, but is shot by Warden Ramirez, who soulgazed Capiocorpus and confirmed that Captain Luccio is now trapped inside the necromancer's body.
Dresden and Ramirez ride off on Sue to face Grevane, Kumori, and Cowl. They face Grevane and his zombies first. Sue mows down the zombies, while Dresden slugs it out with Grevane. After Ramirez cuts Grevane's throat, they are ambushed by Kumori and Cowl. Ramirez is sidelined. Dresden attacks Cowl, but Kumori comes from behind and ends up holding Dresden at knifepoint. Bob, forced to reveal the contents of the 'Word of Kemmler' to Cowl, signals to Harry that he is still allied with him. Harry releases Bob and his spirit enters Sue and disables Kumori. Quickly, Dresden smashes his staff into Cowl's face, disrupting the spell. The backlash from the botched Darkhallow spell apparently kills Cowl and knocks Dresden unconscious.
When Dresden awakes, the Erlking confronts him about Dresden trying to ensnare him, but is pleased with Dresden's summoning of an ancient hunter like Sue as well as his nerve. With a laugh he declares that he will hunt Dresden some other night. Dresden pockets 'The Word' for his deal with Mavra. Then, Dresden and Butters evacuate everyone to Harry's apartment. Listens-to-Wind and his fellow healers arrive and moved the wounded to a more secure location.
Dresden hurries to his meeting with Mavra, they swap the Word for the photos, and Dresden warns Mavra that if she threatens his friends again, he will use the power of a fallen angel and the Winter Knight to kill her. He also somewhat cryptically states that he read from the 'Word of Kemmler' and learned how to turn necromancy against the Black Court. Mavra stops smiling and accepts his conditions, before she disappears into the night. Later, Morgan almost says he is sorry that he misjudged Dresden, but also states that he still regards Harry as an arrogant fool. The story closes as Butters gives Dresden a guitar as therapy for his burned hand.
Plot points introduced
- The Erlking: a High Sidhe of the Wyldfae. Although he is independent of the Summer Court, he is the Summer King. He is the ruler of the goblins. He has the ability to lead the Wild Hunt and to summon the spirits of past hunters. These spirits take the form of great, black hunting hounds. (pp. 178–9,188)
- Lasciel: Dresden has conversations with the Fallen who inhabits the coin he touched in Death Masks. In desperation, he intentionally draws on her hellfire. (p. 157)
- The War: Capt. Luccio tells Dresden that the war between the Red Court and the White Council is going badly. The Red Court attacked the Council in the Nevernever, bringing the Sidhe into the conflict. Many Wardens were killed in an ambush at a safe site. Clearly, there is a traitor in the White Council, but his or her identity is still unknown. (p. 276)
- The Wardens: They were 200 law enforcement officers of the White Council. Their duties are to enforce the Seven Laws of Magic and to protect the Senior Council. One hundred forty-three Wardens were killed in the recent clashes with the Vampires. Dresden is drafted by Captain Luccio to bolster the ranks. (p. 276)
- The Wild Hunt: It is an autumn and winter gathering of the more predatory beings of Faerie. The Hunt will kill anyone and anything it encounters. One can avoid being hunted, by joining the Hunt. (p. 179)
- The Winter Knight: Queen Mab offers the position to Dresden for the second time. He declines even though he still owes Mab two favors. (p. 189)
- The Outsiders: These immortal, ancient beings were the servants and foot soldiers of the Old Gods. They dwell in the Netherworld, outside of this world and the Nevernever. One of the Seven Laws of Magic forbids opening a gate to the Outsiders. (p. 277)
List of characters
- Grevane: A necromancer, a past apprentice of Kemmler.
- Artemis Bock: the owner, operator of Bock Ordered Books, a rare book store near the university, just a few blocks from Billy and Georgia’s apartment.
- Shiela Starr: an employee at Bock Ordered Books. She has eidetic memory, a total recall of anything she has read. Turns out, she's just a mental Image of Harry's, created by the shadow of Lasciel in his mind.
- Malcolm Dresden: Dresden's father, who died when he was six.
- Kumori: Cowl's associate; a necromancer, but not one of Kemmler's apprentices.
- Cowl: A necromancer, a past apprentice of Kemmler; he works with Kumori.
- Capiocorpus (Latin: Corpsetaker): AKA Alicia Nelson, a necromancer; a past apprentice of Kemmler; and an expert in mental magic.
- Li Xian: A ghoul and minion of Capiocorpus.
- Erlkoenig: aka the Elfking, the Master of the Wild Hunt. A powerful High Sidhe of the Wyldfae.
- Carlos Ramirez: A youthful warden, who admires Dresden's approach to many things. He is promoted to regional commander, working out of Los Angeles, CA.
- Anastasia Luccio: The Captain of the Wardens, in charge of the security for the White Council.
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- The first three chapters of the book may be found on the author's official site.