Harry Dresden is the only wizard in the Chicago phone book. He consults for the police department on those so-called "unusual" cases. He's even been on talk shows. So there's no love lost between Harry and the White Council of Wizards, who find him a little brash and undisciplined. But now war with the vampires has thinned the ranks of wizards, and the White Council needs Harry, like it or not. He's drafted as a Warden, and assigned to look into rumors of black magic in the Windy City.
And, if that isn't enough, another problem arrives for Harry in the form of the tattooed and pierced daughter of an old friend, all grown-up and already in trouble. Her boyfriend was the only one in the room when an old man was attacked, but in spite of this, he insists he didn't do it. What looks like a supernatural assualt straight out of a horror film turns out to be...well, something quite close to that, as Harry discovers that malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in Chicago. All in a day's work for a wizard, his faithful dog, and a talking skull named Bob...