In this, the fourth book of The Dresden Files, Harry encounters faerie intrigue, an old flame, and the hostile internal politics of the White Council. And counters it with Looney Tunes references and literary quips as much as magic.
Harry investigates the death of one Ronald Reuel for the Winter Queen of the Fae. Ronald Reuel is what the 'R. R.' in J. R. R. Tolkien stands for. Reuel is also described as a "creator of worlds"/fantasy illustrator.
Ebenezar calls Harry 'Hoss' , presumably 'cause he's big and strong and hungry but gentle.
And for those of us who don't get the reference?
I think it's a reference to Hoss Cartwright of Bonanza.
The Western movie cliche about Native Americans saying "How" is parodied and lampshaded. Knowing Harry, it could be a reference to when The Brady Bunch parodied the same thing, rather than to actual vintage cowboy flicks.
Bob calls Harry Captain Ahab because of his self-destructive obsession with curing Susan.
Harry denies having read Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.
Harry's famous battle cry, "I don't believe in faeries!", is a shoutout to Peter Pan. Really funny because the source material says that every time someone says that, a fairy drops dead somewhere. Perfect war-cry!
Later in that same scene, when Harry first steals the Unraveling from Aurora and runs like hell, he makes sure to give her a hearty "Meep, meep!"
He called Elidee "Tinkerbell" earlier, also a Peter Pan reference.
Elaine calls Harry "Peter Pan" when he suggests she project happy thoughts to distract the unicorn.
Averted for much of the book, lampshaded on the last page and finally invoked in the last line of the book. Billy the werewolf comments that "All of those faeries and duels and mad queens and so on, and no one quoted old Billy Shakespeare. Not even once." Harry laughs and his inner monologue thinks, "Lord, what fools these mortals be." (A Midsummer Nights Dream Act 3, scene 2, 115)
Double points for the battle taking place at Midsummer. At Night. On Clouds.
Harry muses that Spenser's The Faerie Queene never mentioned that said Queen had a great ass.
Billy chides Harry for taking on too much responsibility alone, saying he's not Superman.
The Blue Beetle's name has been a superhero reference throughout The Dresden Files, but in this book, Elaine pinpoints where Harry actually got the idea: not the Long Runner comic book/radio franchise, but the bumbling wannabe whose misadventures aired on The Electric Company in the 70s.
Billy makes an Olympic Games reference, saying Harry gave Maeve's magic a rating from the Russian judge.
The sight of Chicago-over-Chicago as a battlefield is so spectacular that it gets Harry thinking about Wagner.
Harry sums up Elaine's explanation for her helping Justin as "the devil made me do it". This could be a reference to Geraldine Jones's Catch Phrase in comedy routines from The Flip Wilson Show, but given Harry's age and love of cartoons, is more likely a Shout-Out to Yosemite Sam's own Shout-Out to that line.
Murphy calls Harry's marbles-on-the-floor plan a Looney Tune.
Shaking hands, Ebenezar's grip could crush a can of spinach. All in all, this is the book that proves Harry watched too many cartoons as a kid.
Graymalkin's manifestation as a feline with only one facial feature visible is reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat's.
Maeve's "Off with his head" T-shirt is a similar reference.
The obligatory Star Wars reference: Harry pegs Morgan's 3-D map at the Council meeting as having been ripped off from Return of the Jedi.