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Literature / Brief Cases

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A collection of short fiction in the Dresden Files universe. It includes 12 stories:

  1. "A Fistful of Warlocks" (originally published in Straight Outta Tombstone)
    • Warden Anastasia Luccio must team up with the famous gunslinger Wyatt Earp to deal with a band of powerful necromancers.
  2. "B is for Bigfoot" (originally published in Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron)
    • When the son of Bigfoot experiences problems at school, Bigfoot hires Harry Dresden to sort things out. Takes place between Fool Moon and Grave Peril.
  3. "AAAA Wizardry" (originally published in the manual Our World from the Dresden Files Role-Playing Game)
    • In order to help teach several younger Wardens how to do the job, Dresden recounts one of his adventures in dealing with a monster that invaded an innocent family's home. Takes place after Proven Guilty.
  4. "I Was a Teenage Bigfoot" (originally published in Blood Lite 3: Aftertaste)
    • When Bigfoot's son is hit with a magical affliction, Bigfoot hires Dresden to take care of the problem. Takes place around the same time as Dead Beat.
  5. "Curses" (originally published in Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy)
    • Dresden is hired to deal with the most famous curse in Chicago history: the Billy Goat curse which prevented the Chicago Cubs from winning a World Series for seventy years. Takes place between Small Favor and Turn Coat.
  6. "Even Hand" (originally published in Dark and Stormy Knights)
    • Baron Marcone goes to battle with a powerful Fomor sorcerer in order to save the life of an innocent child. Takes place between Turn Coat and Changes.
  7. "Bigfoot on Campus" (originally published in Hex Appeal)
    • Bigfoot hires Dresden to protect his son for the third time, this time from a White Court vampires and her monstrously evil father. Takes place between Turn Coat and Changes.
  8. "Bombshells" (originally published in Dangerous Women)
    • Still reeling from the events of Changes, Molly Carpenter is forced into action when she learns that Thomas Raith has been captured by enemies.
  9. "Cold Case" (originally published in Shadowed Souls)
    • Molly Carpenter, now the Winter Lady, is sent to Alaska to take care of her first assignment from Mab. Takes place after Cold Days.
  10. "Jury Duty" (originally published in Unbound)
    • When Dresden is called in for jury duty, he quickly finds himself drawn into a conflict between Lara Raith and Baron Marcone. Takes place after Skin Game.
  11. "Day One" (originally published in Unfettered II)
    • Waldo Butters, the new Knight of the Cross, is sent on his first assignment: dealing with a monstrous beast who is preying on hospital patients. Takes place just before "Zoo Day".
  12. "Zoo Day" (originally published in Brief Cases)
    • Dresden, his daughter Maggie, and his dog Mouse all have to fend off literal monsters during a trip to the zoo. Takes place just after "Day One".

This collection features more stories in which characters besides Dresden act as the narrator. Luccio is the narrator of "A Fistful of Warlocks", Marcone is the narrator of "Even Hand", Molly is the narrator of "Bombshells" and "Cold Case", Butters is the narrator of "Day One", and Maggie and Mouse both narrate parts of "Zoo Day" along with Harry.

This book contains the following tropes:

  • Aesop Collateral Damage: A case in "Cold Case". Molly needs to learn that she Can't Have Sex, Ever, because pregnancy would destroy the mantle inside her so it will protect itself violently. For Molly to learn it the hard way, Carlos takes a brutal beatdown when they attempt to have sex.
  • Amazon Brigade: Molly assembles one of these teams to deal with the Fomor, who are the guests of the Svartalves. Svartalves covet beauty, so Molly, Andi and Justine use their beauty to get into the party.
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  • Anything That Moves: Depressingly deconstructed: the Fae (or at least, the Winter Fae) are incredibly lustful and fuck like rabbits... so they can have more children to send to the Outer Gates to fight the Outsiders.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Wyatt Earp turns out to have been a member of the Venatori (Umbrorum). So was Doc Holiday.
  • Bigfoot: Plays a very big role in three stories. It turns out they exist in the world, are extremely powerful magic users (easily more powerful than White Council wizards), and very reclusive.
  • Call-Back:
    • In "Even Hand" the location Marcone executes the infiltrating dealers at is the same location the White Council used to execute the Korean warlock in Proven Guilty.
    • In "Day One", when Butters feels like he is getting in over his head against the threat his Mission has brought him against, he calls Harry for help. Harry not only reminds him, "Polka will never die" but also things Michael told him about being a Knight. The primary thing is God/Aliens/Whatever wouldn't give the Knight a quest that's too much for them.
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    • In "Zoo Day", Mouse and Maggie recall when a monster moved under Maggie's bed to torment her but Mouse stopped it. This was first talked about in Skin Game, when Harry first bonded with Maggie.
    • Back in Blood Rites, when Harry gave the puppies back to Brother Wang, the monk noted that not all the pups were present. At first it appeared that Mouse was the exception, having got out of the box without Harry realising, but "Zoo Day" reveals that two other puppies were taken from the litter before Harry got there.
    • In "Zoo Day", Harry tells Maggie that he saved the gorillas in this very zoo from a monster.
    • "Zoo Day" broadly references the horrors Maggie went through in Changes.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: This turns out to be an aspect of being the Winter Lady: each Queen of the Fae has a specific role to fill — Maiden, Mother and Crone — and Molly's job is to be and remain the Maiden. Having sex with a man would destroy her mantle, so if Molly ever tries, the Winter mantle will defend itself by maiming whoever she tries to sleep with. She learns this only after it happens to Carlos.
  • Cerebus Call Back: Inverted. Back in Changes, Harry said, “I will make Maggie safe. If the world burns because of that, then so be it. Me and the kid will roast some marshmallows,” and it was one of the signs of him becoming The Unfettered. In "Zoo Day", Maggie asks, “What if I set something on fire?”, and Harry replies, “Maybe we’ll roast some marshmallows,” but this time, it's a joke meant to reassure Maggie that he is with her and nothing bad is going to happen.
  • Conscription: In "Cold Case", Molly thinks her task of recovering an unspecified "tribute" is basically acting as a tax collector. At the end, she realizes that she's actually a draft officer, come to conscript all of their children to serve at the Outer Gates.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: In "Cold Case", Molly is sent to recover an unspecified "tribute" from a Fae tribe, only to be told that their children have been kidnapped, so she has to go help rescue the children or they won't give her the tribute. At the end of the story, having rescued the children, she finds out that the children are the tribute. Specifically, they're going to be trained as soldiers and sent to the Outer Gates to fight the Outsiders, never to return home.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: River Shoulders kept his distance from Irwin because acknowledging him would have had social repercussions that would severely limit his son's options — and he wanted Irwin to be able to have a modern education and make his own choices.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: This is played with in "Bigfoot on Campus". At first, Connie Barrowill's father encouraged her and Irwin Pounder to have sex so she can kill him on their first night together when she awakens as a succubus, but Irwin's deep reserves of life energy allowed him to survive Connie's first feeding. Now her continued relationship with a guy her father believes she should have killed to make her a "proper" vampire is bad for her reputation. So, he wants her to have sex again so this time he can push her to killing Irwin.
  • Detect Evil: In Mouse's portion of "Zoo Day", he describes his ability to notice evil magic and intents. However, the one stirring up both Harry's and Maggie's problems is very adept at concealing himself to the point even Mouse's holy powers have a hard time tracking him.
  • Disappeared Dad: River Shoulders is this to his son Irwin. Harry finally gets them to meet at the end of "Bigfoot on Campus".
  • Disappointed by the Motive: In "I Was a Teenaged Bigfoot", Dresden finds the source of the spell causing Irwin's illness — a wizard draining his life force to power a hair growth spell.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The legendary Billy Goat curse — the goat cursed the Cubs to never win the World Series again because the stadium authorities kicked him out of the stadium during a World Series game he was watching over the smell of wet goat.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In "Even Hand", Marcone discusses how he has Rules which he forbids any of his people to cross and will personally punish any who intervene into his territory that breaks these rules.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Butters, of all people, invokes this in "Day One."
    That's the thing about knowing a lot of gamers. They don't necessarily count their riches in bank accounts. Not when there are virtual status symbols to acquire.
  • Evil Counterpart: Mouse meets his in "Zoo Day": When Harry rescued Mouse and his siblings in Blood Rites, three of the puppies weren't sent back to the Temple. Mouse was adopted by Harry, but the other two were taken and raised by unknown, dark entities. The one Mouse meets is his brother, who apparently works with some very bad people.
  • Exact Words: In "A Fistful of Warlocks", Luccio has made a deal with a kelpie-like Sidhe: he serves her for a year if she can ride him for an hour. He's rather upset about the fact that she was able to accomplish this even though he spent the hour underwater...
  • God's Hands Are Tied: The "haunts" that possess children and cause them to become little bullies are part of the natural order. They are there for children to confront and overcome. So long as they keep their actions to the non-physical in those they possess, not even Mouse is allowed to help fight them.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Irwin Pounder in the three Bigfoot stories. He is half-human and half-Bigfoot, also called a Forest Person. He gains much of his father's size, protection from common illnesses, and a powerful natural energy inside, which as a college student Harry compares to being on par with himself. The later is also how he survives sex with his girlfriend, who was becoming a White Court vampire. He had enough to allow her inner demon to gorge and he is fine afterwards.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: This is discussed by Mouse to his evil older brother. Mouse is wounded, the younger of the two, and weaker. But if his brother continues attacking Maggie and Harry, Mouse will come at him with everything he has to take down his brother. Mouse will probably die but if it means taking down his evil brother, it is fine by Mouse. He loves Harry and Maggie that much.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: This is discussed by Harry with Butters in "Day One" when Butters is terrified of the monster he is facing and needs help. Harry gives him words of advice but refuses to come. This trial is for Butters to overcome. Butters is a Knight and cannot trust on Harry to be the Big Damn Heroes he has been so often before.
  • Invisible to Adults: There are creatures Maggie calls "creeps" based on a book the Carpenter children wrote. These creeps are mystical creatures that adults, even Wizards like Harry, don't notice. Even Mouse has a hard time noticing them. They possess adults and children, causing some boring conversations in the former, and turning the kids into nasty bullies in the latter.
  • Little Miss Badass: Maggie has become this — she routinely fights off things that prey on children.
  • Logical Weakness: Mab notes that Molly has one. Her title is the Maiden of the Winter Court. If Molly has sex and becomes pregnant, she will certainly no longer be a "Maiden". This will destroy the mantle. So, the Mantle will protect itself by severely injuring Molly's would-be sexual partner by overriding Molly's control.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • A White Court vampire will kill their first sexual partner unless they are in love with them. This apparently turns out to not be the case if they have too much life energy to absorb, like the child of a Bigfoot with a human.
    • In "Cold Case", Molly teams up with Carlos but cannot talk about her mission at first. She uses sexual innuendos and provocative statements instead. It isn't until a deal is made where they help each other can she speak more freely.
  • The Man Behind the Man: In "Zoo Day", Mouse's Shadow, a corrupted holy dog is the cause of both Harry and Maggie's problems, using his dark powers to increase the threat level of both dangers. He is also using his power to increase the anxiety of Harry and Maggie's relationship.
  • Mugging the Monster: A childhood monster once moved under Maggie and Mouse's bed. It ended poorly for the creature when faced against a holy dog whose duty is to protect the home.
  • Mundane Utility: A college professor attempts to use magic in order to regrow his hair, despite the dangers thereof.
  • Mythology Gag: Bigfoot is psychic. This explains why there are never any non-blurry pictures of them.
  • Notice This: Butters loves playing online games. God knows this, and chose to speak to his newest Knight in a manner his Knight would understand. The person Butters has to help on his first mission has a big exclamation point over him like he was some important NPC in a game who Butters must talk to to begin his gaming quest.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • In "Even Hand", Justine forces this card with Marcone by coming to him for protection when guarding a child from her monsters who enslaved the girl.
    • In "Bigfoot on Campus":
      • River Shoulders finally directly intervenes in protecting his son when Irwin's girlfriend's father, Charles Barrowill, tries to force them to have killer sex and brings a horde of ghouls with him to kill any interlopers.
      • In a dark twist, Charles Barrowill loves his daughter, and when she fails to become a "proper" White Court vampire by killing the first person she sleeps with, he intervenes to make sure the next time the kid ends up dead.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: Word of God has declared "A Fistful of Warlocks" to be one for a fantasy/western series about Anastasia Luccio in the Old West that he's not sure he'll ever get around to writing.
  • Power of Love: The edge Mouse has over his Shadow. Because of his love for Harry and Maggie, Mouse would gladly die to rip out his opponent's guts.
    Mouse: If I ignore my own survival, it gives me a great many options in a fight that I would not otherwise have, brother. Are you that confident of your strength?
  • The Promise: In "Cold Case", when Molly swears to some distraught parents whose children were kidnapped she will get them back, she feels the force of her words.
    Lady Molly: There was a low thrum in the air as I spoke ["I can. I will."], and I felt something go click somewhere in my head. I had just made a promise.
    And Winter kept its promises.
  • Rogue Juror: Dresden at the end of "Jury Duty". The man had done it, but since Dresden had (illegally) done some digging, he found that the victim was a White Court vampire who the accused had killed after catching him red-handed in an act of child trafficking.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Both Harry in "Jury Duty" and Butters in "Day One".
    • As a jurist, Harry is forbidden to disclose any details of the case or to do his own investigations, but that doesn't stop him from telling Will or tracking down a potential witness whom the police had overlooked.
    • Butters knows perfectly well that hospital staff are forbidden by HIPAA from disclosing information about patients without the patients' consent, but he is also willing to exploit the fact that Every Man Has His Price.
  • Sealed with a Kiss: When Molly apologizes to Carlos, she instinctively feels that words are insufficient, and kisses him three times.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: In "Bombshells", Lea peppers her usual Shakespearean dialect with a few choice modern phrases, such as pointing out that Molly should be able to get in with the Svartalves because she is "smoking hot", and pointing out the Bowdlerization of a Norse myth that said Freya had to kiss all of them to get the necklace of the Brisings back, scoffing that the Svartalves would not have given up such a treasure for "a society-wide trip to first base".
  • Switching P.O.V.: "Zoo Day" goes from Harry's viewpoint to Maggie's, then to Mouse's as each of them tackle a separate problem at the zoo.
  • Too Clever by Half: The moral of the story "AAAA Wizardry". Harry tells the young wardens he had all the facts before him but grossly misinterpreted them and nearly cost a woman her life and the sanity of the children. They survived because of luck. They almost suffered because of his arrogance, which he calls the fifth A of wizardry.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Poor Irwin, the scion of River Shoulders and a human woman. He's bullied by two kids under the guardianship of a Svartalf as a child, as a teenager, a professor steals his energy to regrow his hair, putting Irwin in what's almost a coma, and as a college student, his girlfriend is a White Court vampire. That said, she's actually a nice one, though her father isn't.
  • Xenofiction: Mouse is one of the narrators during "Zoo Day".
    My name is Mouse and I am a Good Dog. Everyone says so.
  • You Are Fat: This is one of the insults Mouse's Lean and Mean Evil Counterpart throws at him. When Mouse falls behind in the chase, he first defensively points out that he is a Good Dog and that means lots of treats, before admitting maybe he should exercise a little more.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The baka baku from "Day One". It's not a real creature, just a story made up with a toy sold to children, but the solid belief the children had in the story made the baka baku real.


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