Jim Butcher,
Side Jobs
(Roc, 2010)

I've been a fan of the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher ever since I met Butcher at Conestoga when he was selling his brand-new paperback, Storm Front. He described that book as "an Anita Blake rip-off with a wizard protagonist." But I quickly learned that Butcher's writing, particularly his characterization, far surpassed that of Blake creator Laurell K. Hamilton.

Since then, I've read every Dresden book and story I could get my hands on. The last Dresden novel, Changes, left me with a lot of questions, particularly regarding Harry's survival, so I had to pick up Side Jobs on the release day and start reading.

Side Jobs is a collection of 10 short stories and one novella based in the Dresden universe in and around the novels. The first story, "A Restoration of Faith," takes place before Storm Front and tells us how Harry got started in the private detective business. Butcher describes this story as not his finest work; however, it's fascinating to see how his prose and characterization developed through the years.

"Aftermath" the concluding novella, is what dedicated Dresden fans have been waiting for. This story is told from Sgt. Karrin Murphy's point of view 20 minutes after Changes' shattering conclusion. Readers are not going to get answers about Harry's survival from this story, but you're going to see inside Murphy's head, which is something this reader has wanted to do for a long time.

Side Jobs is probably not the best book to start with in the Dresden series. I'd recommend readers start with Storm Front; however, each of the stories is well-written enough that readers won't feel deprived. This is an excellent book if you want more Dresden and would like to know things like what Harry does on his day off, etc.

book review by
Becky Kyle

30 July 2011

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