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Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files Hardcover – October 26, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Fans of Butcher's long-running and bestselling urban fantasy series featuring Chicago wizard PI Harry Dresden were stunned by the concluding events of the 2010 novel Changes. They'll probably want to skip ahead to the last of this collection's 11 stories, "Aftermath," set just hours after the end of that book. With Dresden's fate uncertain, it's his longtime ally, Sgt. Karrin Murphy, who must help find a kidnapped werewolf. This entry is the collection's strongest, full of powerful emotion. The rest of the book is a mixed bag, ranging from Butcher's first attempt at short fiction--"a novice effort" that "wasn't up to par for professional publication"--to more recent tales set around and between the novels. First-timers will be lost, and this uneven volume mostly makes the case that Butcher's talent is best displayed in longer form. (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
These are Butcher’s short pieces about Harry Dresden. (Previous novels featuring that character, which the author’s many fans will recall with pleasure, include Proven Guilty, 2006, and White Knight, 2007). Most of these stories are reprints (“Something Borrowed,” “It’s My Birthday, Too,” “Day Off,” and “Last Call” are included), but the collection offers some previously unpublished material. Butcher has not only given the genesis of each story but also indicates where each fits chronologically among the novels. Anyone who likes the Harry Dresden long works probably thinks it’s high time this collection came out. Enjoy, but be warned that there is a sequel to Changes (2010) in the collection. --Frieda Murray
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The new Harry Dresden collection of short stories, SIDE JOBS, is a must for all Dresden fans. Over the years, Jim Butcher has been sprinkling Harry shorts into various compendiums or posting them on his website, albeit less frequently than we would like. But we fans of Harry will most definitely take what we can get. SIDE JOBS pulls all these little extras together in one convenient, complete package, and adds a special treat: "Aftermath". "Aftermath" is a novella which takes place immediately following the end of the most recent Dresden novel, CHANGES. It does not answer any of the big questions, but it does show us how grim the situation actually is.
In total, SIDE JOB contains 11 stories, in the following chronological order:
"A Restoration of Faith," before the first book, Storm Front (1). The first Harry story Jim Butcher ever wrote. It isn't perfect, but it does give us some insights into Harry, and it shows us how some beloved characters first met.
"Vignette," between Death Masks (5) and Blood Rites (6). A conversation between Harry and Bob.
"Something Borrowed," between Dead Beat (7) and Proven Guilty (8). Harry is rude to an evil stepmother, but still makes sure that everyone gets to the church on time.
"It's My Birthday, Too," between White Knight (9) and Small Favor (10). It's Thomas's birthday, and Harry is determined to celebrate it with him. But vampires of the Black Court have other ideas.
"Heorot," between White Knight (9) and Small Favor (10). Mac asks for Harry's help. Harry teams with Miss Gard, and we learn more about this mysterious woman.
"Day Off," between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11). This is Jim and Harry's first attempt at a comic story. All Harry wants is a day off with Anastasia. But the magical realm, from disciples of Slytherin to psychic fleas, will not leave Harry alone.
"Backup," between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11). Thomas works hard to protect his little brother, without Harry ever knowing about it.
"The Warrior," between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11). Michael may still be retired, but that does not mean he isn't in danger.
"Last Call," between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11). Mac's beer is suddenly starting riots, and Harry must thwart the supernatural cause.
"Love Hurts," between Small Favor (10) and Turn Coat (11). Couples are literally loving each other to death. Will Harry and Murphy survive the effects?
"Aftermath," after Changes (13). With Harry gone, Karin Murphy must save the day.
I found all of the stories in SIDE JOBS to be fun and entertaining, but you must be a Dresden fan to appreciate them. This is not a book that you can pick up cold; you need to at least be familiar with the Dresden-verse to appreciate them. But if you are a die-hard Dresden fan, then this book is for you. Most of what we love about Jim and Harry is here: the great stories, the droll, acerbic wit, the fast-paced action. SIDE JOBS also gives us some one on one time with other favorite characters - Thomas, Michael, Karin, the Alphas, Mac, Miss Gard are each featured prominently in at least one of these tales. A few are even told from perspectives other than Harry's. We get to see more of what makes these characters tick, and that adds to the enjoyment.
Overall, if you love Harry Dresden and Jim Butcher, then run, don't walk, to get a copy of SIDE JOBS. It will help fill the gap while awaiting Harry's next visit in April 2011. MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
If you've never read Jim Butcher before, put the book down and get out of the bookstore, please. SIDE JOBS only illustrates that short stories are not where Butcher's main talent lies. This isn't a a critique of one of my favorite fantasy series writers. Butcher has produced 12 stellar books in the Dresden Files series, each one fresh and fun and more riveting than the next. Once an artist has shown himself capable of painting the Sistine Chapel, so what if he can't do Victorian miniatures for watch fobs?
Most of these stories feel like bits broken off of a Dresden Files novel, or odd events happening between the books. They don't have strong independent narratives or interesting short story twists.
But because I love Harry Dresden (and miss him terribly) I liked most of the stories in this book. The first seems to be the weakest, having interest because its the first Dresden story Butcher wrote. The last "AFTERMATH" is a poignant but action-packed novella focusing on Karin Murphy as she and Harry's other friends react to events that follow the stunning conclusion to CHANGES, the 12th book of the series.
It's not a bad story but don't buy the book thinking it will give you clues to the next full length book. It doesn't. This collection also contains "BACKUP", a story narrated by Thomas, Harry's vampire brother. I found it fun to step back from Harry's point of view in these stories, but they also illustrate that while Karin and Thomas are fun supporting characters, they don't have either the wit or the gravitas of our favorite fire-slinging wizard, Harry Dresden. Recommended only to fans of the Dresden Files who are twitching for a fix until Book # 13.