As the fifth book in the Harry Dresden series, Death Masks continues to follow the same format as the first four books. Harry is in desperate need of money. He takes a case. This case leads him into deeper troubles. The Chicago PD gets involved in some capacity. He never sleeps. He gets hurt. A lot. Eventually, most of the loose ends get tied up nicely, with some remaining stories still unresolved to keep the reader’s interest for future stories. Predictable, methodical, and yet utterly addicting.So what is it about such a formulaic series that keeps readers coming back for more? It all revolves around Harry. Harry Dresden is a character with more character than almost anything else one will read these days. He is fully cognizant of his flaws and does nothing to improve them. He can be utterly dense, causing the reader to groan aloud in disbelief on more than one occasion. He is sarcastic, bombastic, completely lacking in tact and finesse. Yet, the reader remains firmly behind Harry in spite, better yet because of his gaffes. He may be a wizard, but he is a human first and foremost. His loneliness and desire to make the world a better place make him exactly like most other humans. While a reader may not be able to call up fire or wind with an effort of will, the reader understands what it is like to seek love and companionship, to feel chagrined at having to ask for help, for wanting to keep loved ones safe, and for wanting to rid the world of evil. The reader can relate, and Harry shines.One note on the audio production: James, James, James, James, James. You know my love for you knows no bounds. Yet, your performance on Death Masks left me confused and a little concerned about listening to the rest of the series on audio. For one thing, you changed pronunciations of certain words. Second, you changed voices on key characters. Can’t you remember the voice you did on the first four books? I could forgive you on some of them, but Bob? That is inexcusable. While I was not forced to listen to the lip smacking and gum flapping from the previous book, I just could not get over the slight changes you made to these now well-known characters. I am willing to give you one more chance, but then you and I might have to part ways. The thought just makes me depressed. Please make sure your performance on book six is consistent. Otherwise, I will be forced to retract my statement about everyone needing a little James Marsters in their life. In spite of the concerns about the audio performance, Mr. Butcher’s formula is extremely effective, and a reader is sucked back into the drama and the snark without effort. If you have not yet had the pleasure of discovering Harry Dresden’s Chicago world, I am not certain what else it will take to get you to try out at least the first book in the series. Death Masks is another strong performance in an equally strong series that remains one of the better ways to spend an afternoon.