Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files
by Jim Butcher
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath
Review by Drew Bittner
Roc Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451463654
Date: 26 October 2010 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Harry Dresden's life isn't all big, end-of-the-world cases; some of his adventures are quite a bit smaller in scope. Side Jobs collects a dozen of these tales, including one all-new novella suitably entitled "Aftermath".
Jim Butcher has become one of the giants of urban fantasy through the Dresden Files series. One of the pleasures of Side Jobs is seeing that Butcher has a flair for short stories as well as novel-length adventures. Beginning with "Restoration of Faith," the first Dresden story, we see private eye (and Yellow Pages-listed) wizard Harry Dresden doing what he does: fighting the good fight and getting beaten down because of it. He's tasked with finding a girl from a wealthy family who's run afoul of a monster...and he meets a rookie cop (who'll be a significant presence in his future) as well.
A classic noir character (apart from his being a wizard), Dresden is Gandalf and Marlowe rolled into one. In these adventures, we see some lighter moments, as well as stuff that probably none of the readers thought about (for instance, in "Vignette", we see Harry and Bob argue over the wording of his infamous Yellow Pages ad--and get a sense of who Harry is and why he does his thing).
"Something Borrowed" shows Harry's part in the wedding of his two werewolf friends, and how fairy tale romances often have fairy tale complications.
In "It's My Birthday Too", Harry and his half-brother Thomas Raith do a little bonding while dealing with angry vampires and live-action roleplayers. It's a nice bit that deepens the relationship between these two, while offering all of the slam-bang action Butcher is known for writing.
The next-to-newest story in the collection, "Love Hurts", follows Harry and Murphy as they try to solve a rash of love-fueled crimes. It seems someone is wreaking love magic in Chicago, and as Captain Kirk once said, "Too much of anything, even love, isn't necessarily a good thing."
The last story, "Aftermath", is set hours after the end of Changes, the most recent novel. With Harry missing, Sgt. Karrin Murphy has the job of finding a kidnapped werewolf. Murphy gets a peek at what her world might be like without Harry Dresden...and it isn't a pretty picture.
Butcher delivers some great stories in this volume. They work better when the reader is familiar with the context and the overall narrative of the Dresden Files stories, but there's enough context that even a new reader shouldn't be lost. It's also a great way to sample the story to see if it's worth diving in and buying a sizable pile of novels.
This is a great collection, featuring a hero who's proven himself over and over again, as well as delving into the odd corners of his fascinating and fantastic world.