If you’re writing a long running series, and you don’t want it to get stale for yourself or your readers, choosing a theme for each part is not a bad idea. Dead Beat is, as the title implies, about death. There’s the threat of the disciples of a necromancer named Kemmler, who once stood up to the whole White Council and killed many of them. Now his disciples search for a book, the Word of Kemmler, to complete a ritual that is surely bad news for everyone. But that’s just the surface, underneath Butcher explores how people cope with death, the fact that each of us will die one day. Not that this overwhelms the rest of the book, it’s there, but subtly done and not distracting for those who just want to enjoy the action. And there’s plenty, like in every other part of the series, Harry gets his ass kicked before he can kick back. The ending is a fabulous confrontation, I just mention Tyranno Rex.
I just wonder whether the series will fall prey to the syndrome that every book deploys stronger and stronger enemies, and Harry has to deploy deadlier forces each book to win, until the power scale becomes ridiculous. Harry also worries more and more about whether he’s slowly becomes one of the monsters he’s fighting, which mirrors the development of a similar, but female character in another series. At least Butcher won’t devolve the series into a pornfest without plot.