As a result of the events of Grave Peril, Harry is something of a sad sack. He has not had any cases since then, he overdue on his rent, and he is occasionally a target of assassination attempts from the Red Court of vampires. On top of the war between the White Council and the Red Court of vampires, a second war is about to start–this one between the Summer and Winter Courts of the Sidhe. As usual, Harry is in the middle of it.
Harry is approached by Mab, the Queen of the Winter Court. It turns out that Harry’s fairy goddess the Leanan Sidhe has sold his contract with her to the Queen. Mab wants him to solve a murder case involving the champion of the Summer Court, in order to clear her of having murdered the Summer Knight. Harry tries to back out of it, but finds that he can’t.
It also turns out that he is one of two Emissaries, and the Emissary for the Summer Court is his long lost girlfriend Elaine. (Through no fault of her own, Elaine is responsible for many of Harry’s romantic hang ups. Elaine disappeared after their teacher and guardian had apparently turned to dark magic.) This is not a very happy reunion, since Harry had assumed that she had turned to dark magic of her own free will, but Elaine is able to explain to Harry what had really happened. After escaping, she had found sanctuary in the Summer Court of the sidhe, and was now paying off her debt. Harry tries to convince Elaine to go to him to the White Council, but Elaine refuses considering what had been done to Harry, who had killed their teacher in self-defense.
The case turns out to be extremely complicated, though he gets help from a gang of werewolves and his cop friend Karrin Murphy. Other complications are in the form of a group of Winter Court Changelings who had been under the protection of the Summer Knight, and the discovery that one of the Queens of the Summer Court is definitely up to something. (And let us not forget the other war that is still going on, the one with the vampires and the White Council.) Meanwhile, the White Council is breathing down Harry’s neck and assassins continue to take pot shots at Harry.
This was another enjoyable book in the series. There is a lot of action, and a particularly funny (and appalling) battle in the middle of Wal-Mart that I thought was really funny. I also liked the way Harry’s friends try to bully him a little bit into taking care of himself. (They invariably fail, but it’s still fun to watch.)