CBR 13 Bingo Square: Old Series – The first Dresden Files book, Storm Front, was published April, 1st 2000
Side Jobs contains eleven short stories, little adventures that happen between the novels. Some were written for promotional reasons and some were written at the invitation of anthology editors. These stories occur from before Storm Front to just after Changes. This was my first audio book experience and I enjoyed it immensely. Ardaigle’s waxing rhapsodic over James Marster’s narration convinced me that I needed to hear it for myself. And I’m glad I did! Marster’s has a great voice and listening to him has made the past month of health stomps much more enjoyable. I chose Side Jobs as I couldn’t remember if I had read it. Conclusion: No, I hadn’t but I had read one or two stories from other sources.
Overall, these are a good time. At the beginning of the collection, it was nice reflecting back on a time when stakes were lower for Dresden. It also was a reminder that Dresden has been a horn dog from the onset, that his being attracted to Molly has always been creepy, and that he only ever seems to meet attractive women. Butcher does give Dresden excellent dialog, with great quips and one liners, which Marsters deftly narrated bringing him to life in a way that is different from reading on the page. These stories are unnecessary in the greater sense of the series but are fun little asides, giving more time to some characters, and putting Dresden in some hilarious situations depending on what the theme was of the anthology Butcher was writing for. As these books are written in the present there are pop cultural references, some of which still work, but many work for me only due to my age.
“Restoration of Faith” was from one of Butcher’s writing class assignments. It’s rough but has the essence of what Dresden would become. It kind of broke me that he talks to someone on a pay phone, how antiquated!
“Vignette” was the shortest of the collection and is banter between Harry and Bob the skull. It is a great back and forth about truth and advertising and how Bob thinks he needs to jazz up his ad in the phone book. Ah, phone books.
“Something Borrowed” revolves around Billy and Georgia’s (the werewolves) wedding and is the first story in this collection that Georgia is kidnapped and later found naked. Poor Georgia, I sincerely hope that she doesn’t ever get abducted again after these two short stories. This story had a particularly inventive use of Dresden’s magic to defeat the trap and rescue Georgia.
“It’s My Birthday Too” is an especially fun story for me as it involves LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) which I used to do. It’s also sweet to see Harry try to celebrate Thomas’s birthday and how supernatural forces interfere, because of course they do.
“Heorot” throws Gard (Valkyrie and hench for Marcone) together with Harry to investigate a missing bride. Once again there is an abducted female that is found naked. I like Harry working with Gard because he gets a taste of his own medicine, being the one who doesn’t have all the info and struggling to keep up.
“Day Off” was the funniest story of the collection, in my opinion. Naturally, Harry can’t have a normal day off!
“Backup” is told from Thomas’s point of view and I was impressed at how Marsters voiced him, completely different and distinct from Harry. This story was neat in how Thomas is working in the shadows to help Harry but doing everything possible to stay unnoticed, for if discovered it would lead to uncomfortable questions Thomas won’t answer.
“The Warrior” was inspired by Butcher’s experience moving to a new neighborhood and going around to meet the new neighbors. Those visits had unintended consequences and Butcher explores the idea of how little actions can have big reverberations.
“Last Call” has supernatural forces mucking with Mac’s beer and Harry on the hunt to find out who/what is tainting Mac’s special dark brew. This story features a maenad and I couldn’t help but think of the season of True Blood that featured a maenad. It also contains a magically drunk Murphy giggling about Harry and his ‘rod’ which was a bit cringey. Butcher once again gets between Harry and Murphy, as she doesn’t remember the events and Harry pretends nothing happened.
“Love Hurts” is the one story that I definitely read before in the Songs of Love and Death anthology edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois. Harry and Murphy are on the hunt to discover what is leading couples to commit suicide and find themselves under the effects of a love spell. And again, Butcher won’t let them be a couple.
“Aftermath” immediately picks up after the ending of Changes and is told from Murphy’s point of view. She refuses to believe Harry is dead until a body is found but the city doesn’t allow her time to wallow in misery. Will comes to her house because Georgia, his wife and expectant mother to be, has been abducted. During the mission, Murphy is continually distressed at the loss of Harry but by the end it seems she has found a new purpose. Excellent work by Marsters portraying Murphy.