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. MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.