So about, um, six months ago now one of my co-workers loaned me the first three of the Dresden File books. I just finally got through the first one, Storm Front. Overall rating: meh.
His action scenes are good, and some of the magic was entertainingly inventive. Some of it, of course, was blatantly cribbed from urban fantasists of yore (there's a fairy summoning almost straight from War for the Oaks), and from Harry Potter (potions and dog Latin, for pity's sake... I find very difficult to forgive--is the real thing that difficult?).
But then, the entire book feels like it was written after spending much time in careful study of Glen Cook's Garrett books, which is kind of depressing, since while Garrett has his moments, Cook has written a lot of other things that are much better. And even if he hadn't, what was refreshing and interesting in Sweet Silver Blues now just comes across as if Butcher had it open on the table while he wrote. The dialog is downright painful in places ("are you a good guy?" seriously?), the secondary characters are simplistic--there is Good Cop, Sloppy Cop, Cool Mob Boss, and in the end, Villain, all straight out of the box. The only one who seems to have an inner life and some potential to be interesting gets killed off.
And finally, Harry spends way too much page time thinking variations on, "I'm screwed." We know that; Harry starts the book screwed, in so many different ways that when the actual plot shows up it feels like piling on. It's not fun when a first-person narrator spends much, if any, amount of time feeling sorry for himself; the rest of us would like to get on with it, please.
I've got two more to go through, so I'll see if he improves with practice.