Harry Dresden is a wreck. He spends all of his energy trying to save his ex-girlfriend Susan from the vampiric curse that's pretty sure to claim her, and as a result, he may lose his office, his apartment and what few friends he has left. Mab, the Winter Queen of Faerie wants him to figure out who killed the Summer Knight, and most importantly, prove that she isn't the murderer. Harry tries to refuse her offer, but there are more complications thrown his way.
The White Council of wizards arrive in Chicago, and most of them want to gift wrap Harry and deliver them to the vampires, hoping this will make the vampires stop waging war. The only way Harry can keep them from basically stripping him of his wizard status and giving him up to become a vampire chew toy, is by accepting Mab's offer. If he doesn't figure out who killed the Summer Knight and stole his power, the Summer and the Winter Queens go to war against each other at Midsummer Eve, and that will have catastrophic results for the entire world. He should probably clean himself up a bit.
I've mentioned this on my blog before, but it bears repeating I don't know why I can read countless paranormal fantasy series with female protagonists (I haven't done a count in a while, but I'm pretty sure the various ongoing series I follow still number two figures) and find them fascinating, yet I have trouble engaging with male protagonists. The previous three Harry Dresden novels didn't really grab me, this is the first one where I didn't force myself to finish the book out of stubbornness, and frankly, if Harry hadn't snapped out of his moping over Susan, this would have been another chore to read.
Luckily, because of all the crap he gets dropped in his lap, Harry is forced to snap out of it. He seems to do really well when faced with near impossible odds, and it's not like he has a lot of support. The White Council are clearly mostly filled with douchebags, and it's not difficult to take Harry's side against them. I'm also a sucker for bad faeries, and as Harry still owes the Winter Queen two tasks before being free of her influence at the end of this book, it's clear that the faerie stuff is going to come back in later books too.
As far as I can tell from other reviews on the internet, this is the book where the Harry Dresden books really start becoming worthwhile. I really like some of the supporting characters, like Karrin Murphy and Billy the werewolf. If Harry actually stops moping so much and more of the future books involve faeries, I will probably keep reading. But not just yet. I have more lady-oriented paranormals to get through first.