Turn Coat by Jim Butcher may be the first of his Dresden novels that I am truly ambivalent about. On the one hand, I really enjoyed reading it. On the other... let's just say it has some problems. And this is going to be spoilery. Be warned.
The easy stuff:
The editor needs to go back to editing school. The comma usage was distracting. Not everywhere but enough that they frequently made me stop and say, "Why is there a comma here in the middle of this sentence?" To write that as it would probably appear in Turn Coat: "Why is there a comma, here in the middle of this sentence?" or "Why is there a comma here in the middle, of this sentence?" I shouldn't be stopped by oddly placed commas. Just sayin'.
[And, yeah, I know; most people will not be stopped or even slowed down by the commas, but I kept tripping on them, and that was annoying.]
As with all of the Dresden books, I found this one an enjoyable read. I mean, I found the reading of it enjoyable. I find the character of Dresden enjoyable, and I really want to see where Butcher is taking us on this meta-plot he has running. However, whenever I stopped to think about this one, I would become annoyed.
As the title may indicate, this book deals with the idea of a traitor. Specifically, there is a traitor in the White Council. Okay, fine, I can deal with that. The issue here is that for the story to have any meaning, any impact on the reader, it really needs to be a character we've already met. For it to really mean something to the reader, it needs to be a character we like, even if it's a minor character. Yes, that would mean that Butcher would have to mess up the life of one of his characters, but that's what writers do, right? Evidently, that was too much to ask of Butcher because, about 1/4 of the way through the book, we're introduced to a completely unlikable character that Dresden immediately has issues with. The astute reader knows at that moment that that is the traitor. So, yeah, at not quite 25% of the way through the book, I knew where it was going, so there was this pervasive disappoint as I read. I just kept hoping that maybe I was wrong and it would actually be someone like Ebenezer and we'd all be shocked, but I knew that it wasn't going to be anyone like that.
So, you know, great, Butcher introduced a character that we didn't like just to kill him off. No emotional payoff at all.
There are some other things that don't make a lot of sense, either:
1. Why in the heck is the skinwalker working for Peabody? The skinwalker is some ancient evil creature; why does it care at all about what Peabody wants? [Granted, this may become more clear as the scope of the Black Council is revealed, but it felt more like Butcher just needing to up his game from the previous bad guys Dresden has had to fight.]
2. Why does the skinwalker kidnap Thomas? This doesn't actually make any sense within the context of the story or the skinwalkers behavior throughout the rest of the book. He just shows up and takes Thomas and leaves. What the heck? Sure, I get that Butcher wants this traumatic event to happen to Thomas to get him to embrace his vampire ways, but none of what happened felt genuine.
Also, there's the issue of the Black Council. This is probably not an issue for other readers so much, but it reminds me too much of the Black Aes Sadai (I think that's what they were called; something like that, anyway) from Wheel of Time and the black whatever they were from Sword of Truth. I'm not saying that he copied the idea, but it just feels like the same concept going on, and I find that particular thing annoying.
On the other hand, there is the ending where Dresden actually lives up to the title of the book, a thing which I'm not going to explain, but, at least, the whole turn coat thing wasn't just about Peabody. That said, I think what I need from Butcher with these books is for them not to keep feeling like Butcher is screwing with Dresden for the sake of screwing with Dresden. The thing with Thomas just feels like one of those things where they have a good relationship and, so, you have to screw it up, because the main character isn't allowed to have good relationships, and Butcher had to contrive a way for that to happen. A way that felt contrived. The same with the stuff with Anastasia.
So... I enjoyed the read but am annoyed by the book overall. I'd say it probably comes in at a C+ for me.