The Dresden Files: Ranking all the stories that appear in Brief Cases

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Cover of Brief Cases by Jim Butcher. Image via Ace Books.

It’s not an entirely new Dresden Files novel, but Jim Butcher’s Brief Cases is full of strong short stories from the universe. Which one is the best?

A traditional review seems a bit off for a book like Brief Cases. After all, it’s not really a book so much as a collection of mostly previously-published short stories from Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, sent my way by Ace. First, if you enjoy urban fantasy yet have not treated yourself to this series, please do so, because they’re such solid books. Second, don’t read this as your first Dresden Files book.

This one is meant for longtime fans of the series, who have their favorite side characters and want to know more about them. Sure, Harry Dresden himself is still the star of most of these stories — but he’s not the star of all of them, or he at least shares the spotlight.

It feels fitting to say here that none of these stories are bad. In fact, they’re all quite good, and fans of the series will eat this up pretty quickly. But some are definitely better than others.

“AAAA Wizardry”

“AAAA Wizardry” experiments with switching between Harry in the present, educating younger wizards, and Harry in the past, on a case where he ended up making several errors that could have led to disastrous results. It easily illustrates how far Harry has come as a character over the course of all these books. Beyond that, though, it’s really not the most interesting story — in either timeline.

The Bigfoot trilogy

Any collection that features a story named “I Was a Teenage Bigfoot” is a collection that you probably need to read. While the three of them — “B is for Bigfoot,” “Teenage Bigfoot,” and “Bigfoot on Campus” — present a cohesive trilogy, they definitely also have a tendency to drag, particularly in the middle story. “B is for Bigfoot” is probably the strongest of the three because of how it shows Harry move slowly into a mentor role for someone not constantly in his orbit.

But the teenage Bigfoot is also named Irwin. I can’t help but think that it’s a shout-out to a certain Steve.


To be fair, this story is now really dated considering how the Chicago Cubs have now won a World Series in living memory.

But it is also a story about Harry investigating the curse on the Cubs and finding out that it actually exists, because why wouldn’t it in this world? That alone boosts it up.

“Jury Duty”

Sometimes it feels as though Harry has moved beyond the more mundane things that started him on his early adventures. “Jury Duty,” in that sense, is a bit of a throwback, where Harry ends up doing his civil duty and helping a man in the process.

Honestly, the introduction to this one alone is worth the price of admission.

“A Fistful of Warlocks”

If, some day, Butcher does not write “For a Few Warlocks More” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Warlocks,” then on that day, I will be disappointed that he missed a chance to make such a solid set of pop culture references. Anyway, this story stars Anastasia Luccio and winds things back to the days of Wyatt Earp. While it’s not as obviously funny as most of the work in the universe, there are some slyer moments of humor to be found here, and like the rest of the non-Harry stories in this collection, it’s refreshing to be in someone else’s head for a little while.

(Granted, Butcher says in the introduction that he’d like to write an entire book series based on this story. I’d also read that.)