My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Side Jobs is perhaps not absolutely critical reading for a fan of Jim Butcher and the Dresden Files. Most of the stories herein are ones which were previously published in various other anthologies, with the shining exception of Aftermath, the novella that takes place immediately after the novel Changes–and which was the first thing I’d ever seen Mr. Butcher write from a female point of view, at least in the Dresden Files. For that alone, and for an opportunity to see Murphy react to the way that novel ended, I was myself quite happy to snap this one up.
Fortunately, I hadn’t actually read most of these stories before, so the collection was primarily new to me. And there’s definitely some good stuff in here, taking place over quite a wide range of the Dresden timeline. Aside from Aftermath, my favorites were “Last Call” and “Love Hurts”, just because of fun mileage with McAnally’s, and again with Murphy. I certainly squeed quite a bit for the “Love Hurts” story in particular. I’d already read Warrior from the Mean Streets anthology, but that one’s a good solid story as well. And if you want to go way, way back in Harry’s timeline, “Restoration of Faith” takes place before Storm Front; that one’s available to read for free on Jim’s site, but it was good to see it here, too, and good to see the collection ranging from very early Harry to (as of the time of this collection’s release) current Harry.
Critical? No. But definitely fun, and if you’re like me–a big fan of Jim’s work but not one who normally reads anthologies or collections–you should go ahead and pick this up. But for the love of all that’s holy, do not read Aftermath unless you’ve already read Changes. Because oh my yes the spoilers. Four stars.