Storm Front is the first novel in The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, published in 2000. It has twenty-seven chapters. It is a contemporary crime fantasy novel set in Chicago. The protagonist, Harry Dresden, is a professional wizard and private investigator[Footnote 1] who occasionally consults for the Chicago Police Department Special Investigations unit.
Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he's the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the "everyday" world is actually full of strange and magical things - and most of them don't play well with humans. That's where Dresden comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a - well, whatever.
There's just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Dresden's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Dresden's name. And that's when things start to get... interesting.
Magic. It can get a guy killed.
Harry Dresden is hired by a woman named Monica Sells to find her husband Victor Sells, an amateur wizard who has been dabbling in magic and recently gone missing. Later, he is called by Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, chief of the Special Investigations (SI) Unit of the Chicago Police Department. Murphy's partner shows him the bodies of two people, gruesomely murdered by having their hearts ripped out. Dresden realizes that he is the chief suspect for these magical murders. A third party then intercedes to try and take Dresden off of the case. Gentleman John Marcone, the crime boss of Chicago, tries to buy Dresden out from helping CPD and SI.
Eventually, despite encounters with a vampiress named Bianca, an unknown warlock, and the ever-suspicious Warden Donald Morgan, Dresden learns that the affair centers on the drug ThreeEye, which allows normal humans to temporarily acquire the Sight, a type of magical vision that can drive a person insane. Victor Sells has been manufacturing ThreeEye to edge out mob boss John Marcone. Using the energy from thunderstorms and orgies held at his home, he powered the spells to remove his enemies, namely Marcone's men and anyone else threatening his operation, in order to gradually bring down Marcone and corner the drug trade.
Dresden interrupts Sells' spellcasting and attacks him, "brains versus muscle", eventually burning down Sells' house with him still inside grappling with monster scorpions and a demon he had summoned to kill Dresden. Dresden survives, but is himself trapped on the balcony of the burning house until Morgan steps in to rescue him. Morgan had witnessed the fight with Sells and, knowing now that Dresden is innocent, reluctantly testifies on Dresden's behalf to the White Council.
Butcher's original proposed title for the novel was Semiautomagic, to sum up the series' balance of fantasy and hard-boiled detective fiction.