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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. Understandably, takes place way, way, way before Storm Front.
  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 their job, Dresden recounts one of his adventures in dealing with a monster that invaded an innocent family's home. Takes place after Proven Guilty and before White Night.
  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 his girlfriend - a White Court vampire - and her monstrously evil father at the University of Oklahoma. Takes place between Turn Coat and Changes.
  8. "Bombshells" (originally published in Dangerous Women)
    • Still reeling from the fall of the Red Court and the disappearance of Harry Dresden's ghost, Molly Carpenter is forced into action when she learns that Thomas Raith has been captured by enemies. Takes place between Ghost Story and Cold Days.
  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, and unexpectedly runs into Warden Carlos Ramirez during her journey. Takes place after Cold Days and before Peace Talks.
  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 and before Peace Talks.
  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 after Skin Game and before Peace Talks.
  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 both "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:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Significantly more of the short stories in this selection are not narrated by Harry and feature other characters in the spotlight.
    • "A Fistful of Warlocks" - Anastasia Luccio.
    • "Even Hand" - John Marcone.
    • "Bombshells" and "Cold Case" - Molly Carpenter.
    • "Day One" - Waldo Butters.
    • "Zoo Day" - Maggie Dresden and Mouse.
  • A Wizard Did It: Lampshaded In-Universe; The reason why there are never any non-blurry pictures of the Forest People is because they have Psychic Powers to make sure the pictures are always just slightly off and not credible.
  • 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.
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  • Alas, Poor Villain: Butters is heartbroken when he's forced to kill the baku baku in "Day One", sympathizing with how it used to help protect innocent children and only recently has been twisted into a dangerous monster.
  • 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.
  • Anything That Moves: Depressingly deconstructed; the Fae (or at least, the Winter Fae) are incredibly lustful and bang 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 and Doc Holiday both turn out to have been members of the Venatori Umbrorum.
  • Big Entrance: In "Cold Case", Molly gleefully remarks on how awesome it feels to be able to just kick doors in now that she's the Winter Lady.
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  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: Better known as "The Forest People," they play 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.
    • Several 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 realizing, but this short story reveals that two other puppies were taken from the litter before Harry got there.
      • When they're visiting the zoo, Harry tells Maggie that he saved the gorillas in this very zoo from a monster.
      • Broad references are made to the horrors Maggie went through in Changes.
  • Call-Forward: Grevane from Dead Beat is one of the titular "Fistful of Warlocks" whom Luccio fights in Dodge City.
  • 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.
  • The Captain: "A Fistful of Warlocks" shows the current captain of the Wardens, Luccio, when she was Harry's age. She implies that the current captain is none other than Ebenezar McCoy.
  • 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 lighthearted 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.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Harry vs. a demon in "Zoo Day". He banishes the demon with zero effort, much to its frustration.
  • 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.
    • Butters's new-found Knightly ability to sense evil manifests, per his hardcore-gamer expectations, as glowing red patches moving with the Big Bad a la "boss monster" auras.
  • 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 feels this way after he finds the source of the spell causing Irwin's illness — a warlock 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.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Butters to the baku baku. She doesn't listen.
  • 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.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: invoked Even Harry can't help but admit that the college-aged Irwin Pounder is now noticeably Hunkier than he once was. Amusingly enough, this also Squicks him out since he then thinks about how he's known the kid since he was in middle school or so.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Butters, of all people, invokes this in "Day One."
    Butters: 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 Cannot Comprehend Good: Mouse's Shadow loses in "Zoo Day" and is forced to flee because he's completely unable to comprehend that Mouse has Undying Loyalty to Maggie, and is perfectly willing to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to take his Shadow with him if it is what is necessary to save Maggie.
  • 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.
  • For the Lulz: It's revealed that Marcone had a role to play in Dresden (who had seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth for almost a year) being recognized for jury duty in the eponymous story. Why? Because, even putting aside how Harry would be an excellent Unwitting Pawn in the Proxy War he was waging with the White Court, it would've been hilarious.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampires: After learning of her heritage as a White Court vampire in "Bigfoot on Campus," Connie Barrowill more or less vows to be one.
  • Fun with Acronyms: In "B is for Bigfoot," Harry ruthlessly mocks the acronym for St. Mark's Academy for the Gifted and Talented being "SMAGT" when it could've instead been "SMART" by renaming the school as "St. Mark's Academy for the Resourceful and Talented."
  • 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.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: "Zoo Day" heavily implies that Cowl, Harry's Evil Counterpart, is the owner of Mouse's Shadow.
  • 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 latter 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 physically come and provide aid. This trial is for Butters to overcome; Butters is now a Knight and cannot trust on Harry to be The Cavalry he has been so often before. Eventually, Butters is able to tap into his inner courage and confront the monster, saving the day.
  • Hopeless with Tech: Played for Laughs in "Bigfoot on Campus"; Due to being a Walking Techbane, Harry is shown to struggle with understanding technology and be surprised when he learns how easily Irwin was able to learn about the supernatural world from the Paranet's message boards.
  • 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.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The introduction to "Bigfoot on Campus" outright states that Harry will have his own future experiences with fatherhood, directly alluding to him learning that he's a father in Changes (which takes place after this story).
  • 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 would 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. And he's still only just the servant of Cowl, Harry's Arch-Enemy on the Black Council.
  • 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 high school professor attempts to use magic in order to regrow his hair, despite the dangers thereof.
  • Must Make Amends: After the Cruel Twist Ending of "Cold Case", Molly vows to find a viable alternative so that Child Soldiers do not need to be drafted in service of the Winter Court to defend the Outer Gates.
  • Norse Mythology: The Svartalves featured in "B is for Bigfoot" and "Bombshells" are the Dark Elves from Norse myth.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Subverted for the Miksani, when Molly says she'll claim Winter's tribute only after she's rested up from rescuing their children. Their leader's gratitude for this short reprieve is an early clue that the children are the "tribute", so only Molly's leniency permitted them one last night's reunion with their families.
  • 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.
  • Odd Friendship: Harry forms one with both River Shoulders and King Gwynn.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Luccio mentions that the Warden Captain, "a man named McCoy," once took down three warlocks at the same time.
  • 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: invoked Word of God has described "A Fistful of Warlocks" as 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.
  • The 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.
  • Proxy War: "Jury Duty" is ultimately a proxy conflict waged between John Marcone and Lara Raith.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: King Gwynn excitedly recounts to an embarrassed Harry when they meet in "Curses" about how the wizard had once tried to ensnare and capture the Erlking in Dead Beat.
  • 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.
  • Serious Business: In "Curses", King Gwynn ap Nudd of the Tylwyth Teg is obsessed with baseball. The below quote sums it up nicely:
    "We're talking about something important here, mortal. We're talking about baseball."
  • 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".
  • Stepford Smiler: Both Harry and Maggie are mentioned as being very anxious and having forced cheer during "Zoo Day" since they're terrified of showing their insecurities to each other (with Maggie in particular thinking that her dad will "want another daughter" if he learns about how she "spazzes out" from panic attacks occasionally).
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy: Extensively discussed in "Bigfoot on Campus" in reference to the White Court. Both Harry and River Shoulders reflect on how the White Court is founded on the Motivational Lie started by "some ancient bastard/bitch" stating that it's okay for them to be emotion-draining monsters. The aforementioned bastard/bitch's descendants have then been intentionally obscuring the truth from their own children until it's too late, and subsequently invoke this trope afterwards so that the new vampire will fall into line and accept all the Court's teachings as valid because the only alternative would be realizing that there's no excuse for having killed another human being. Related to this, Charles Barrowill can't accept the possibility that he might not have been a murderer if his parents had just been honest with him, and so tries to use an Appeal to Tradition argument (which ultimately just boils down to this trope) to make sure that his daughter grows up to be as much of a miserable and inhuman monster as he is.
  • Switching P.O.V.: "Zoo Day" goes from Harry's viewpoint to Maggie's and then to Mouse's as each of them tackle a separate problem at the zoo.
  • Take That!: In "Bigfoot on Campus", after learning that she's a White Court vampire, Connie Barrowill nervously asks Irwin and Harry if "she'll sparkle." Their response? "God no."
  • 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.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Downplayed in "Bigfoot on Campus"; Connie Barrowill is a White Court vampire and so is inhumanly beautiful, but is mentioned to actually look relatively plain when she's not using her power. Meanwhile, Irwin Pounder - a scion of the Forest People - isn't described as particularly attractive, but his Heroic Build is mentioned as being one of his most attractive features to Connie and also cleans up nicely. And of course, the two of them deeply love each other regardless of their appearances.
  • Undying Loyalty: Mouse warns his brother that he's fine pulling a Taking You with Me if it keeps Maggie safe.
  • 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 life energy to regrow his hair (almost putting Irwin in what amounts to 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.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Mouse's Evil Twin has a severe case of this, as the three demons he summons to fight Harry appear to be dollar-store versions of the ones he usually fights. Subverted when it's revealed that they were simply a distraction while he goes after Maggie, who herself would be distracted in exorcising the demons in the school children she saw. Mouse only barely manages to stop it.