Dead Man’s Hand is the first novel in the Unorthodox Chronicles urban fantasy series set in Boston. Written by James J. Butcher and narrated by James Patrick Cronin, I quickly found myself pulled into the world of Grimshaw Griswald Grimsby, a down on his luck witch who finds himself at the center of a high-profile murder investigation. Suspense, a little snark and characters I cannot wait to spend more time with …
by James J. Butcher
Series: The Unorthodox Chronicles #1
Narrator: James Patrick Cronin
Length: 11 hours and 10 minutes
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Publisher, Purchase
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 5 cups Speed: 1.2x
In the tradition of his renowned father, James J. Butcher's debut novel is a brilliant urban fantasy about a young man who must throw out the magical rule book to solve the murder of his former mentor.
On the streets of Boston, the world is divided into the ordinary Usuals, and the paranormal Unorthodox. And in the Department of Unorthodox Affairs, the Auditors are the magical elite, government-sanctioned witches with spells at their command and all the power and prestige that comes with it. Grimshaw Griswald Grimsby is...not one of those witches.
After flunking out of the Auditor training program and being dismissed as "not Department material," Grimsby tried to resign himself to life as a mediocre witch. But he can't help hoping he'll somehow, someway, get another chance to prove his skill. That opportunity comes with a price when his former mentor, aka the most dangerous witch alive, is murdered down the street from where he works, and Grimsby is the Auditors' number one suspect.
Proving his innocence will require more than a little legwork, and after forming a strange alliance with the retired legend known as the Huntsman and a mysterious being from Elsewhere, Grimsby is abruptly thrown into a life of adventure, whether he wants it or not. Now all he has to do is find the real killer, avoid the Auditors on his trail, and most importantly, stay alive.
Indeed, fans of the Dresden Files and Alex Verus will find themselves cozying up to the Unorthodox Chronicles. It stands on its own and was a fantastic debut. This first in series has me excited about the stories to come.
I love urban fantasy particularly in audio format as was delighted to listen. James Patrick Cronin did a splendid job giving voice to our protagonist Grimsby, as well as Mayflower, known as the Huntsman. This narrator was new to me, but I am looking forward to hearing more from him.
We are introduced to the world filled with ordinary Usuals, and the paranormal Unorthodox, who live among humans and the governing body that polices them. The Department of Unorthodox Affairs whose Auditors; magically elite, government-sanctioned witches who have spells at their command, power, and prestige. There were some unique elements, such as the glasses Grimsby wore, I found fascinating.
When a powerful witch is murdered, Mayflower, the Huntsman who retired from the business, is called in. He does so because the witch was his friend. A note at the scene leads them to Grimsby. He’s a disabled usual who works at a human pizza joint that hosts birthday parties for children, complete with a castle, knights and a mote. Grimsby soon finds himself in danger and joins up with Mayflower. The tale that unfolds held me captive and entertained as auditors, familiars and danger come to call.
The pacing was well done as the world-building was woven throughout the tale. Magic lairs, strange creatures, deadly battles and character growth formed our hero. I have to say; I loved seeing the growth in Grimsby. He started out as this down on your luck dude with a solid moral code. He was flawed, noble, vulnerable and transformed out of necessity. The creature he unwittingly befriends was a favorite.
The story ended on a high note, but also dangled some knowledge that has me eager for the next audio in the series. While I received an advanced copy, I also grabbed a copy with a credit so I can listen again.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature)
Oh wow! I didn’t know Jim Butcher’s son was an author too! How cool! I’ll have to share this title with my aunt’s boyfriend who loves Jim Butcher’s books, because this sounds like it might be a similar read. Great review!
I hope he enjoys it!
Anne - Books of My Heart
The narrator was new to me but I really liked his work. I’m curious to see how things go now. Grimsby is very young and he progressed so much here.
Glad to hear you enjoyed it as well.
Carole @ Carole's Random Life
I have a copy of this one from NetGalley but haven’t been able to get to it yet. It sounds great. I may just grab the audio since it sounds like that is the way to go!
Me too, but I also used a credit for the audiobook.
So cool to see a son take the mantle and introduce a new series!
Indeed. I am looking forward to seeing him come into his own.
Another new fascinating urban fantasy series. I like that it has witches and good character growth. Wonderful review, Kimberly
It had some colorful characters and I am looking forward to continuing the series.
I was curious about this one when I saw it on GR. Thanks for sharing. Good to hear you liked it so much.
I hope you are able to grab it 🙂
Like father like son. This sounds like a top notch read.
Different styles, but yes.
Lover of Romance
What a wonderful one you loved here. I am so happy it worked for you. I see that many readers really love UF in audio. I do enjoy when the character building though is top notch.
Yes, I love when characters are flawed and well developed.
Felicity Grace Terry
A fan of the Dresden Files though its been so long since I last bought any of the books that I must be way behind, I had wondered if this author was connected and it seems its a case of like father, like son. Another one to be added to my Wish List, this really appeals and not just because of the name.
I am too Felicity but I have listened to them all and have started reading them as well.