The Dresden Files/Dead Beat

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Book #7 in The Dresden Files.

Harry has a problem. Yes, again.

He’s just been hired to find The Word of Kemmler, the personal spellbook of a powerful necromancer, which is also being hunted by any number of Kemmler’s apprentices and, really, anyone who would want to unlock the secrets of powerful necromancy--including a spell that would allow the caster to become a demi-god by devouring the spirits of the dead.

Oh, and a T-Rex is involved.


Tropes associated with ‘’Dead Beat’’:[edit | hide | hide all]

Harry: "Touche, oh dark master of evil bathrobes."

  • Body Surf: Corpsetaker's preferred method of operation.
  • Cain and Abel: The opening has Harry namecheck the story when he comes home to find that Thomas not only hasn't cleaned, but hasn't left to allow the brownies time to clean the apartment, either.

Narrator!Harry: On the whole, we're a murderous race. According to Genesis, it took as few as four people to make the planet too crowded to stand, and the first murder was a fratricide. Genesis says that in a fit of jealous rage, the very first child born to mortal parents, Cain, snapped and popped the first metaphorical cap in another human being. The attack was a bloody, brutal, violent, reprehensible killing. Cain's brother Abel probably never saw it coming. As I opened the door to my apartment, I was filled with a sense of empathic sympathy and intuitive understanding. For freaking Cain.

  • Chekhov's Gun: The GPS system in Georgia's SUV. It does not actually show up itself, but the GPS itself gives Harry his Eureka Moment when he realizes that the numbers on Bony Tony's flash drive are GPS coordinates.
    • Butters's one-man Polka suit (and ability to play it) become a combination of Chekhov's Gun and Chekhov's Skill later in the book, as they're used to keep a zombie T-Rex under control.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Butters is taught how to create a magic circle around himself to keep out stray magical influences thus allowing him to use a GPS device. He then uses this skill to keep specters from killing him.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The museum scene, where Cassius tortures Harry for no reason other than personal enjoyment. Of course, this is the guy that Harry himself tortured not two books earlier for information.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Harry remembers this being the psuedo(?)superpower of the Knights of the Cross, and smiles in the face of Cold-Blooded Torture knowing Michael or Sanya will show up to save him. They don't.
  • Cool Car: Subverted with Billy and Georgia's giant SUV. Butters is talking about all the cool features of these new cars- and then he turns on the GPS. It has apparently been around Harry too long already.

"Now entering Helsinki."

  • Deader Than Dead: The Necromancer Kemmler's back story: "They killed him good. A couple of times. He'd come back after they'd killed him early in the nineteenth century, so they were real careful this time".
  • Dead Person Conversation: Harry speaks to his father this way, though he is not a ghost.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The legendary incident in Dead Beat, which seems to be widely considered the defining moment of the series so far (c.f., the Laconic and Haiku versions of this page).
  • Friend or Foe: Figuring out who is on what side gets quite ugly at the climax.
  • Genre Savvy: Dresden wonders whether he is in High Noon or early in The Maltese Falcon when trying to work out whether or not it is safe to go outside.
  • Gratuitous German: Die Lied der Erlking (The grammatically correct title would be Das Lied des Erlkonigs). Lampshaded in-series when Harry finds the author of the book -- an anal retentive Obstructive Bureaucrat -- and taunts him over the fact that he screwed up the title. His miffed response is that "German is an untidy language". This is either a subtle joke by the author or a case of Did Not Do the Research, as German is a more logical language than English.
  • Ice Cream Koan: Billy and Georgia's car (with navigation system) keeps telling Harry "The door is ajar."

Butters: It gets kinda Zen after a while. Life is a dream. Time is a river. The door is ajar.

  • I Have a Family: No, he didn’t. No, it doesn’t make it any better.
  • Indian Burial Ground
  • Kick Them While They Are Down
  • Kiss Me I Am Virtual: Lasciel.
  • Lovable Coward: Subverted by Butters. He admits it about himself, and Thomas points it out in a genial fashion, but despite his frequent screaming Harry realizes that Butters never actually does anything cowardly.
  • Non-Human Undead: Also something of a plot point, as Harry exploits a loophole in the White Council's Necromancy prohibition by animating an animal as a zombie. Specifically, a freaking Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  • No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus: Lampshaded, when Harry explains the basics of Necromancy and raising the dead to him, Waldo Butters immediately swears, "Jesus". Snarky as ever, Harry immediately quips back, "I kinda doubt they had anything to do with that one." Butters, being near-panic, overreacts and Harry has to explain that it was just a joke.
  • Oh Crap: For once Harry's the one inflicting these. Specifically, it turns out this is the natural reaction of everyone when a zombie T. Rex is bearing down on them.
      • He gets one of his own (literally, 'Oh, Shit,') when Morgan comes at him with Unstoppable Rage, thinking Harry murdered Captain Luccio.
  • The Power of Rock: Or rather, the power of polka.

"Polka will never die!"

  • Raising the Steaks: Harry raises a T-Rex in a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Revenge by Proxy
  • Screw Destiny: When Corpsetaker and the ghoul attack Harry in an alley, he is rescued by Johnny Marcone and Ms. Gard. When Gard (a Valkyrie) mentions Harry was fated to die there and their interference had changed his destiny, Marcone's quick response is, "It's fun to spit in Fate's eye once in a while."
  • Survival Mantra: POLKA WILL NEVER DIE!
  • This Is Not a Floor: Or rather That Is Not A Fire Escape. Lash uses this to prove to Harry that if she wanted, he would be dead by now.
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex: Um... yeah.
  • Unwitting Pawn: A few times near the end. In particular, Harry inadvertently does Cowl's work for him by calling up the Erlking (and, because Harry was trying to keep him trapped, all Cowl had to do was whack Harry in the back of the head to set the Erlking loose), then ends up leading Grevane to the Word of Kemmler, something Grevane could not have done on his own. He gets better, though.
  • The Wild Hunt: One of many, many profoundly awesome things in this book.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Chicago is about to be overrun with zombies and a necromantic "dark god" who, ironically, intends to abolish death.
  • World War I: It was Kemmler's fault, apparently.