I really, really, really want to like this book more and rate it higher, but I just can't.
I love that Jim Butcher has made urban fantasy interesting. There are different kinds of vampires with different councils and different motivations and backgrounds. There are different kinds of werewolves. There are different kinds of spirits. It's interesting and complex, and I love that.
Harry is a decent character. Oh sure, he's over the top, has some sort of savior complex and is a chauvinist pig and I get that. I do get a wee bit tired that every. single. time. there's something going on, Harry is always on his last legs, with the last bit of power, barely able to hold on and figures things out at the last minute and scrapes through his battles in the end. He's always exhausted, weakened, etc. but I can accept that.
I can accept that most the characters are also bigger than life/over the top, because it's a fantasy story, and a pretty decent/action packed one, and the characters are fine for that.
What I get very tired of, and why I can't rate this book more stars, is Harry talking about every female character as a sex object first. When you first see any character, even long established ones, he has to talk about how a blouse cups a breast or how legs look or how many curves a girl has (and where) or how cute or sexy (or not) a woman is. It's tiring. It's cheap, and it's one of the reasons why I tend to shy away from male writers.
Jim Butcher, you're better than that. I appreciate that you've gone as far as making women other than damsels in distress - bravo, but seriously, I hope you lay off the sexualizing of every woman, cheapening them all into sex-objects first, characters later. I can live with once in a while, but I get tired of it every time there's a female on deck. It's demeaning, please stop.
Grave Peril has much better pacing (my complaint regarding the second book), and the society and spooks are interesting and pretty complex. This book is fairly dark, and Harry is pretty much a punching bag. The presence of Michael, a character that shows up full blown with no backstory to explain him at first is a little jarring, but Butcher did get around to fleshing out enough of what's going on with Michael that I'm not as thrown off by his larger than life sudden presence as I was at the beginning of the book. It's not a bad book overall, and it could be a great book, but the writing regarding women is starting to leave a bad taste in my mouth.