Jim Butcher’s latest offering in his bestelling Dresden Files, titled Side Jobs, is more of a quick-fix for Dresden fans than anything actually original. Ninety percent of the short stories in there have been published elsewhere, leaving only the final story (“Aftermath”) something nobody has ever seen before. It’s not going to give you anything original, but it will leave you partially satisfied until next April’s release of the highly anticipated Ghost Story.
So where to begin? Butcher’s ability to tell a story from Harry’s point of view is excellent as always, and his quick wit cuts sharper than a sword. However, this is a collection of short stories, so you’re only left with a taste of the usual Dresden novel.
One of the things I did like was the reprinting of the short story (Backup) featuring Thomas Wraith, the older half-brother of Harry who also happens to be a White Court vampire. This change in direction from the normal Dresden story is interesting, for you finally get to see how other people look at Harry. One of the initial impressions you receive is that Harry may have enemies and friends, but everyone seems to respect him. And hey, a healthy dose of fear can instill respect, right?
But… it’s the final story of the book, Aftermath, that I’m going to focus on here. This story is from Karrin (Karin?) Murphy’s, Harry’s contact at the Chicago PD and quasi-romantic possibility, point of view hours after the events of Changes. No spoilers here, but suffice to say that Harry isn’t around to help Will the werewolf when his pregnant wife suddenly vanishes without a trace. Officer Murphy steps up and offers to track down Georgia to help Will. Naturally, the events at the end of Changes is weighing on everyone’s minds, but Murphy infiltrates a sort-of frog demon’s lair and rescues Georgia and her unborn child, and make their escape.
The short story (novelette?) is pretty straightforward, and while Murphy lacks Dresden’s wit and charm (not to mention his magic) she is a worthy stand-in for the departed hero. Nonetheless, purchasing a $26.00 book to get to one original short story is near highway robbery. A reader would be happier with a paperback version of Side Jobs, though a die hard fan of the Dresden Files will definitely want to see all the stories together for the first time.
-Reviewed by Jason