What would you do if someone you hated for much of your life was suddenly vulnerable? What would Harry Dresden do? In Turn Coat, my favorite of the Dresden Files novels, Harry must aid one of his oldest enemies while uncovering a traitor within the wizard ranks. Liars and traitors and catspaws, oh my....
Turn Coat starts off running with a knock on Harry’s door. He opens it to find Morgan the Warden, bleeding, on the run from the Wardens. He asks Harry to hide him. Now we all know there’s no love lost between Morgan and Harry, but Harry takes him in. Morgan’s wounds aren’t life-threatening but need treatment. So Harry calls on his favorite medical professional, Waldo Butters.
Butter wonders why Harry is helping Morgan, considering the animosity between them in the past, and Harry’s position as a Warden. Harry insists that Morgan would never break the Laws of Magic. Butters fixes him up. Harry also mentions that he’s been getting migraines recently.
Morgan sleeps and Harry meditates. When Morgan awakes, he tells Harry that LaFortier, one of the members of the Senior Council (who we saw back in Summer Knight) is dead. Morgan was found standing over the body with the murder weapon but doesn’t have any recollection of how he got there. There was also a large sum of money deposited into Morgan’s bank account. It seems that the traitors on the Council have started making moves to eliminate those who stand in their way. Morgan mentions that he used the favor the Summer Queen gave him (in Proven Guilty) to prevent the Wardens from finding him, but that the spell will expire in about 48 hours.
Harry goes to visit Thomas who questions Harry’s willingness to help Morgan. But Harry defends his choice. He also asks Thomas for Justine’s help. Justine has been Harry’s mole on the inside of Lara Raith’s organization. Now he wants to see if he can dig up any info on what’s going on with the Council. But Thomas balks at first. He doesn’t want Justine put into any more danger than she’s already in. Harry promises to look out for Justine’s safety and Thomas reluctantly agrees.
Harry then goes to obtain some medical supplies and on the way gets a sense he’s being tailed. He catches a glimpse of his pursuer with his wizard Sight which messes with his mind in a major way. Harry crashes his car and has to start counting prime numbers to hold off the psychic trauma. He makes his way to Billy and Georgia’s place, asking for a quiet place to basically face the trauma. Which he does. With difficulty. He fills in Billy and Georgia only to realize that the creature has tracked him to their place. It attacks the Alphas and Harry, killing Kirby and seriously injuring Andi before changing into a bird and flying away. Harry recognizes it as a Skinwalker, bad, bad business. Harry leaves the rest of the Alphas to look after Andi and leaves to continue with his investigation.
Murphy tracks him down and he fills her in on what’s going on. As usual, she wants in and Harry, grateful for her help, agrees. She asks if Harry knows of anyone who might know about or have some experience with Skinwalkers. As Native American spirit creatures Harry thinks first of Injun Joe/Listens-to-Wind. But he trusts him. Murphy is quick to point out that that’s the part of treachery that really sucks. That it’s unforeseen.
Harry heads back home to check on Morgan and bring him the medical supplies. He bonds with Mouse and warns him about the Skinwalker. Harry plays nurse to Morgan who can smell the blood on Harry. Harry tells him about the Skinwalker. After chastising Harry about involving amateurs in the game, Morgan gives Harry a quick lesson on Skinwalkers. Apparently they can eat magic, steal a person’s power and add it to their own. They are also known as naagloshii. Incredibly hard to kill. Morgan once destroyed one by (literally) nuking it.
Harry uses the power of the Paranet to get a sense of what’s going on with the Wardens, discovering that they were all over the country looking for Morgan. Then Harry checks with some of his Warden friends to get an update.
Thomas calls to say he’s meeting Justine and Harry goes along. They meet at Club Zero, an ultra-exclusive club which could stand in for the court of Caligula. Justine shows up and hands over some info to Harry about a wanted post on Craigslist for Morgan. It makes Morgan a target for all of the big hitters in the world who might want the favors the White Council is promising. Harry guesses it wasn’t the White Council, though, since they would be unlikely to go through the internet. Harry decides to try to draw out the person who did list it. Harry also decides to move Morgan so as not to endanger his neighbors.
The arrival of Madeline Raith disrupts the club and Thomas warns Harry to stay out of family business. Harry mouths off, of course, and then Thomas threatens to beat her to death. Then she threatens Justine which, as we should know by now, is not a good thing to do around Thomas. He breaks a chair over her head, then uses Justine’s hair chopsticks to pin Madeline down where Justine kisses her and lets her hair trail down her body. Since Thomas still loves her, her touch is pain to a White Court vamp. Madeline sizzles and Thomas, Harry and Justine leave the club.
Harry sees Luccio beckoning to him outside the club. They take a moment to make sure they’re who they say they are and then Luccio catches Harry up. Seems like it was Ebenezar who ordered the Wardens to shut Harry out, worried, no doubt, that with Harry’s dislike of Morgan he would gun for him. Luccio seems to think that Morgan might be innocent despite the evidence against him. She also thinks he might be trying to out Harry as the traitor, something which gives Harry pause. Harry asks Luccio to find out what she can about Skinwalkers since Harry wants to kill the one that killed Kirby. Then he returns home.
Harry enters to find Morgan on the floor facing off against Molly Carpenter who has Mouse sitting on her. Turns out Molly showed up to do a little homework and startled Morgan. Mouse stopped her before she could do anything dangerous. Harry warns her to control her emotions then sends her out for a bit. Morgan was testing her and he thinks Harry is going easy on her. Harry also realizes he has to tell her what’s going on. If Harry goes down with Morgan, Molly, under the Doom of Damocles is going down as well. In for a penny and all that....
Harry sends Morgan off with Thomas. Molly agrees to go as well. She’s angry, though, with Morgan for being hard on Harry. But also she’s scared that she’s a monster as well, because of what she did in the past. Harry reassures her and they head to his bolt hole, a location in a storage locker with some basic magic protections and an escape hatch into the Nevernever. Harry brings up the Black Council, but Morgan refuses to acknowledge its existence. That’s apparently the position of the entire Senior Council. Morgan offers to show Molly how to open a passage to the Nevernever. Harry leaves Mouse with them as well and heads into the Nevernever himself to head to Edinburgh, Scotland.
Harry is at first stopped by some spiders from the Winter Court. They challenge his right to use the path until he drops one of them with magic. Then Harry continues on to Edinburgh, the seat of the White Council. Actually, beneath Edinburgh Castle. Harry goes first to the War Room and his mentor, Ebenezar McCoy. Ebenezar seems convinced of Morgan’s guilt. Too many things line up and he doubts that mind tampering would work without breaking Morgan’s mind. Wizard Peabody, a kind of wizard clerk shows up for Ebenezar’s signature, then Ebenezar twigs to what Harry’s doing. Ebenezar directs Harry to Listens-to-Wind.
Listens-to-Wind is inspecting the crime scene under the orders of the Merlin. Morgan was his right hand man after all. Listens-to-Wind fears a civil war and is willing to sacrifice Morgan, whether he did it or not, to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Harry speaks to the Merlin next, offering his help. It’s in the Merlin’s best interest to find Morgan innocent, after all. Otherwise his power is undermined. The Merlin will accept Harry’s help IF Harry also agrees to root out the traitor. Then the Merlin orders Peabody to give Harry a copy of the file on the murder.
Peabody gives Harry the file, though Harry refuses to sign for it. We also learn that Wizard Peabody was the one who compiled the book on the Erlking from back in Dead Beat. Harry returns and passes out until Murphy wakes him up in the morning with coffee and donuts. Harry uses her help to review LaFortier’s file. Which helps because she brings up the death curse that wizards have. Surely LaFortier would have got his off before dying, right? Also there’s no sign of magic use—why not? Then Murphy tells Harry to follow the money, but that she can’t help him with that. They are interrupted by a call from Thomas which seems to indicate some serious shit going down.
Harry heads off with Murphy in tow and when they get to the storage units they see a bunch of identical grey-suited and hatted men. Harry guesses they’re from the Nevernever, all wearing the same look. Murphy goes all bad-ass and double-taps two in the head.
Harry tries to get them into the storage locker, but fails to before the grey coats are on them. Instead he creates a magic circle around them to keep the grey coats out. Then their summoner appears, a cockney man called Binder who can summon and bind him things from the Nevernever. Binder wants Morgan, of course. He’s a gun-for-hire, so to speak. He threatens Harry and Murphy and then the arriving cops until Morgan appears behind him and the grey coats, still in his wheelchair, a shotgun in his hand. Then Molly appears from under a Veil. She activates a magic circle around the grey coats, sending them back to goop. Binder runs, but Murphy, still a bad-ass, takes him down.
Harry regroups with Mouse, Morgan and Molly (ever notice that there are a lot of “M” names in these books?) and learns that Thomas isn’t with him. He left them a while ago. Where did he go? And what took him out? They all escape into the Nevernever where Morgan grumbles about Thomas having sold them out. Harry protests but can’t tell Morgan that Thomas is his brother. Harry decides to take them all back to his place.
Harry summons Toot-toot and gets him to sniff out someone watching Harry’s place. Turns out it’s a PI hired to follow Harry, though he won’t spill the name of his employer. Then Molly steps in, going out to talk to him. She gets the name of a law firm and a contact, Ms. Evelyn Derek. So Harry goes to check it out.
Harry bluffs his way into Evelyn Derek’s office pretending to be the PI. Then he throws a bit of magic around to get her to tell him who hired her. Only she can’t. Her mind has been tampered with. So Harry soulgazes her. He doesn’t see who’s behind everything, but he can tell that it’s a vampire of the White Court.
When he returns home he finds Morgan with a blade at Molly’s neck and Mouse with his jaws at Luccio’s throat. He eventually finds out that Luccio had walked into Harry’s apartment. Molly blinded her and attacked her and Morgan then attacked Molly and Mouse restrained Luccio from doing anything dangerous. Luccio confronts Harry about lying to her, but it’s Morgan who has the hardest time, first realizing that Luccio doubted him, and then that she’s in a relationship with Harry. Turns out Morgan has had a thing for Luccio for about a hundred years.
Harry and Luccio visit the Raith Estate to look into the White Court activity and what that has to do with Harry and the White Council and Harry threatens his way into Lara Raith’s presence. Luccio cautions him on his belligerent attitude, but Harry thinks he knows Lara. He brings up the tampering with Evelyn Derek as well as Thomas’s disappearance, but Lara claims to know nothing about any of it. Before they can get into things further, the lights cut out and Harry senses the skinwalker. Lara grabs some weapons and Harry, Luccio and her face off against the shapechanging creature until it pulls Harry down through the floor and chokes him.
Harry manages to recover, only just, as Lara and her sisters face off against the skinwalker. It manages to withstand their attacks and then Harry’s as he recovers. Harry quickly twigs to the fact that the skinwalker isn’t there to kill them. He talks and the thing offers a trade—Morgan for Thomas (so that’s where he disappeared to).
Lara tries her best to tempt Harry to join her, but he resists and instead offers her a chance to save Thomas and gain status for herself. He also figures that Madeline is in on what’s going on, seeing as how she didn’t show up to fight the skinwalker and seeing as how what’s going on seems to fit her style. Harry asks her to trace the money in Morgan’s bank account as well as Thomas’s cell phone. Harry also overhears the damage report of who was injured in the attack and how the hired men are going to feed the other members of House Raith. Harry promises to take Lara down one day.
Regardless, she gives him a car. And not just any car—a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. But not before Harry checks on Justine and she brings up Thomas in front of Luccio. As they drive away, Luccio questions him about this. And Harry tells her the truth. Which brings up Margaret, Harry’s mother. Turns out Luccio, and all the Wardens, knew her. She apparently wanted to reform the Laws of Magic. Luccio seems to think that those reforms would have drawn wizards into mortal affairs. The Laws, as they are, limit wizards’ influence in the mortal world. She also tells Harry that Margaret was called LaFey because she had so many contacts among the Fae and because she knew more ways through the Nevernever than most other wizards. She knows now that Thomas is Harry’s brother and he asks if she will tell. Her answer is less than comforting—“not unless it’s relevant.” It creates distance between them. Harry affirms that he’s going to find his brother.
Harry checks in with Bob but none of his tracking spells work. Bob gives Harry some info on the skinwalker. This one seems to be one of the original naagloshii, with millennia of experience. Harry, frustrated, talks to Molly who passes on a message from Billy and Georgia with the hospital that Andi is in.
Harry heads to the hospital and talks to Billy. Andi might not make it through. Harry needs the Alphas help but Billy says he won’t help Harry unless he knows exactly what’s going on. Harry has been trying to protect the Alphas but it hasn’t stopped Kirby from dying, or Andi from being hurt. Billy...Will stands his ground and Harry tells him everything.
Then Harry goes to talk with Murphy who is currently holding Binder but who probably can’t keep him. Harry discusses matters with Murphy but comes up with nothing. So they try to question Binder, which doesn’t go far, but Murphy grabs hairs off of his head. But since Binder is a pro, the spell doesn’t take. Luckily, Harry has enlisted the help of the PI from before, Vincent Graver, and he tracks Binder to the Hotel Sax where he might be meeting with his employer.
Which turns out to be true. Harry shows up at the Hotel and magically eavesdrops on a conversation between Binder and Madeline Raith. She seems to want Morgan. Binder guesses that Harry’s been keeping him in his apartment. It also turns out that Madeline made a call to the Wardens to say that Harry has been sheltering Morgan.
Uh oh. Now what’s Harry going to do? Check back in a week when we cover the second half of Turn Coat. And please share your opinions and thoughts in the comments.
Rajan Khanna is a writer, blogger and narrator who is a sucker for intrigue and betrayal. And mysteries. He also realizes that these Dresden re-read posts are getting long. His website is www.rajankhanna.com