REVIEW SUMMARY: Jim Butcher’s popular Wizard P.I. Harry Dresden works three cases helping a Bigfoot deal with some problems in the Bigfoot’s son’s life, highlighting the author’s knack for snark, humor, and fun storytelling.
PROS: Working for Bigfoot provides great additional tales for readers familiar with The Dresden Files and also works as a fine sample for readers curious to try The Dresden Files.
CONS: The nature of The Dresden Files is such that Butcher sets up each novel and story as inviting to new readers, which leads to some repetitiveness in laying the foundation for Harry’s supernatural world in each story. It was especially evident in reading three stories in such quick succession.
BOTTOM LINE: Any fan of The Dresden Files should be getting this one, whether in the physical edition Subterranean is publishing or the electronic version more readily available. Essentially, this three story collection does what many such collections should do: it works as an introduction to the writer and his best known creation while also providing some nice smaller adventures for our beloved hero.
Jim Butcher, largely because of his Dresden Files series, is known for writing novel length fiction. Occasionally, when an anthology editor calls, Jim will write a shorter tale featuring a mini-adventure of everybody’s favorite Chicago Wizard (or another character from the series). The fine folks at Subterranean Press have gathered three of those shorter mini-adventures her in Working for Bigfoot. In each story, Harry Dresden takes on jobs for a Bigfoot as the Sasquatch/Yeti are, unsurprisingly, a separate supernatural race in the world of The Dresden Files.
The first of story of this ‘trilogy’ of stories, “B is for Bigfoot,” finds Harry waiting for a client in the woods and is surprised to learn that his employer is a Bigfoot, “Strength of a River in His Shoulders.” River enlists Harry’s aid in helping River’s son Irwin Pounder, a scion due to being born of a Bigfoot and human woman. It seems the young, teenaged Irwin is being bullied at school. When Harry speaks with Irwin’s mother, a geologist, she has it arranged for Harry to pose as a janitor at the school. Of course the young boys bullying Irwin aren’t typical, run of the mill boys. There’s some really nice interaction between Harry and Irwin about how to deal with bullies and their ringleader, each of whom is supernatural in nature.
The second story, “I Was a Teenage Bigfoot,” brings Harry to Irwin’s high-school where Irwin falls ill, catching what the school nurse and doctor think is Mono. When Harry first meets up with River, the Bigfoot informs Harry that his kind simply do not get sick; River has a strong inkling that something supernatural is afoot. Harry, unsurprisingly, is met with some resistance by the head of the school upon his arrival, but Irwin’s mother having granted Harry power of attorney, allows our favorite wizard some leeway. There’s some nice banter between Harry and the nurse assigned to Irwin, before Harry discovers the true nature of Irwin’s ailment. The ending provides a very humorous denouement of the villain’s reasons for his actions.
When Harry catches up with Irwin in “Bigfoot on Campus” the final story in tryptich, it isn’t without some precursor. Each meeting with River was over a fire and some food, so that Harry could be the Host and invite River as a guest and observe one of the strictest rules of the supernatural world. By this third meeting, Harry is cooking steaks, sharing some fine tobacco with River, but Harry accepting the job it isn’t without a catch. Harry demands that River finally introduce himself to his son before Harry takes the job. At an unspecified college in Oklahoma, Irwin is on the college football team and falling in love (and lust) with a vampire name Connie. There aren’t any complications to that, right? Of course there are. Harry comes to realize he knows Connie’s father from a previous “adventure” and as wizards and vampires are wont to do; they find themselves at odds with each other. I liked the framing device of this story: we are introduced to a police officer trying to sort out a chaotic scene with eye witness Harry Dresden. So, Harry decides to tell the police officer the truth.
Prior to reading Working for Bigfoot, I recently read the (at the time of this review) most recent Dresden Files novel, Skin Game, which just happens to have as a supporting character, a Bigfoot. So perhaps the timing of the release of this “Bigfoot Trilogy” of short stories is quite apropos. I found the stories just as enjoyable as the novel-length stories in this series, what I enjoy about the novels (Butcher’s humor, Harry as a character, and the Fantasy Kitchen Sink approach to the supernatural world) was on display here. This is the second limited edition publication Subterranean Press has published featuring a short story in The Dresden Files (the previous is Backup), the art here is by Vincent Chong, who did the covers and art for the limited editions of the Dresden novels Subterranean has published thus far. Even in ARC form, this is a nice edition, with not only an eye-catching cover but moody illustrations for each of the stories.
These shorter tales are a great sampling of Butcher’s style and give a fantastic snapshot of Harry Dresden as a character during three different points in his “career,” so the collection would also work very well for readers who have yet to dive into the novels of The Dresden Files.