“Side Jobs”
by Jim Butcher
read by James Marsters
Produced by Penguin Audio
approx. 13 hours

While still rushing with adrenaline from the huge cliff-hanger at the end of the last Dresden book, “Changes, ” I’m looking everywhere I can for my Harry Dresden fix.  If you haven’t read any of Jim Butcher’s series, “The Dresden Files,” you are seriously lacking in your fun, exciting detective story romp through the supernatural reading.

Harry Dresden is a wizard and a private detective protecting the city of Chicago.  His adventures have taken him through the land of the Faeries, off fighting werewolves and vampires and even Gruffs (you’ll have to read about that one).  His support staff consists of some college students who spend their evenings as werewolves protecting their neighborhood, Karrin Murphy at first a lieutenant for Chicago P.D. Special Investigations, but later demoted to Sargeant,  Thomas his half-brother and White Court vampire, Bob a spirit of a wizard locked within a skull (the wizarding world version of a computer), Mouse a giant Temple Dog, Mister an oversized cat, and on occasion, Gentleman John Marcone Chicago’s biggest mob boss.

With that team you’d think Harry would be able to take on anything, well in general he can, but for the most part it’s his luck that doesn’t hold out.

“Side Jobs” is an anthology book set in Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files series.  Most of the stories were published in other anthologies but finally here they are in one book, in chronological order of appearance in the time stream of the Dresden Files books.   I had read many of these before because seeing a Jim Butcher story in an anthology, I had to read them at the time of release.  There are a couple of stories that were only available on the website and a new one that takes place just after the previous book in the series.  This collection contains the following short stories:

“Restoration of Faith,” takes place before “Storm Front and originally published on Jim-Butcher.com. This story tells a little of a backstory on Dresden as he was working to get his private investigator’s license.  Harry rescues a little girl from a troll under a bridge.

“Vignette” takes place between Death Masks and Blood Rites and was originally published on Jim-Butcher.com.  This one is a very short  fun story about Bob and Harry trying to write the perfect yellow pages ad.

“Something Borrowed” was originally published in “My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding,” and takes place between “Dead Beat” and “Proven Guilty,” is about Billy and Georgia’s (werewolves that help Harry from time to time) wedding day.  Harry saves Georgia from a faerie and in doing so wrecks their wedding day, but they do live happily ever after.

“It’s My Birthday Too” was originally published in “Many Bloody Returns” and takes place between “White Night” and “Small Favor” and depicts a day when Harry is trying to give his vampire half-brother, Thomas, a birthday gift but ends up saving Thomas and some “larpers” from a Black Court Vampire.

“Heorot” was originally published in “My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon” takes place between “White Night” and “Small Favor” and is the story of Harry rescuing a missing bride with the help of Miss Gard, a Valkyrie and agent of Gentleman Johnny Marcone.  This one mixes in some Norse Mythology into the Dresden world.

“Day Off ” was originally published in “Blood Lite” and takes place between “Small Favor” and “Turn Coat”.  This is a very funny story in which Jim Butcher explores the bad luck Dresden faces when trying to take a day off.  Harry’s apprentice is blowing up lab, the werewolves have fleas and a wannabe wizard is bombing the house.  “It’s my day off!”

“Backup: A Story of the Dresden Files” (Mike Mignola illustrations from the first edition not included)  novelette from Harry’s brother, Thomas’ POV, originally published by Subterranean Press, takes place between “Small Favor” and “Turn Coat.”  Harry is being used by an ancient evil, and Thomas must put a stop to it without him noticing.  This story explores more of the “Oblivion Wars” which have only been mentioned in  earlier books.

“The Warrior” was originally published in “Mean Streets” and takes place between “Small Favor” and “Turn Coat” reveals what happens to the Carpenter family after the events of “Small Favor.”  Michael Carpenter was a Knight of the cross, weilding the sword Amoracchius to battle for God.  At the end of “Small Favor” Michael was battered to the point where he lost function of one of his eyes and some limbs.  Michael will still battle when his family is threatened but will the take up the sword again?

“Last Call” was originally published in “Strange Brew” takes place between “Small Favor” and “Turn Coat” and tells when Harry takes on the darkest of dark powers–the ones who dare to mess with this favorite beer.  Someone is lacing Mac’s Home brew with a psycho-control drug, and Harry must stop them.

“Love Hurts” was originally published in “Songs of Love and Death: Tales of Star-Crossed Love” and  takes place between “Turn Coat” and “Changes.”  Harry and Murphy investigate a series of love spells with deadly consequences.  This also shows another side to the Harry / Murphy relationship.

And finally a new novelette exclusive to the anthology: “Aftermath” which takes place 45 minutes after “Changes” and is told from Karrin Murphy’s point of view. She must help find a kidnapped werewolf.  All through this story Murphy is using what she has learned from Harry while at the same time mourning his “possible” death.

If you haven’t read any Dresden novels you may want to pick this one up, as it is a great introduction to the fun to be had.   While I’m recommending, if you are into audiobooks, I highly recommend this in audiobook form.  As are all the Dresden Files audiobooks, it is read by James Marsters (you know, Spike from the Buffy the Vampire Hunter Series).  Marsters voice captures the wit and wisdom of Harry Dresden, and being that all the novels are told in first person you feel as though Harry is talking directly to you.  If the Sci-Fi channel would have cast Marsters as the lead in the short lived Dresden Files series, I think they series would have done much better….just sayin’.

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