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2016 Story 57

Today's story comes from the anthology UNBOUND: Tales By Masters of Fantasy, edited by Shawn Speakman.

57. JURY DUTY by Jim Butcher.  Harry Dresden (wizard of the White Court and bearer of the mantle of the Winter Knight), recently returned to life in Chicago (after events of the past few novels, the pertinent points of which are quickly summarized), gets stuck on the jury for a murder trial: an ex-con is accused of killing a prominent businessman, but something about the story of course doesn't add up. It wouldn't be a Dresden story if there wasn't more than initially meets the eye going on.

I feel like it's been a while since we've had a genuinely goofy, funny Dresden short story. Even the three story "Working For Bigfoot" sequence felt a bit darker than the earliest Dresden shorts (although not as dark as the more recent shorts/novellas narrated by John Marcone, Molly Carpenter and others). This is not to say the story doesn't have any stakes -- a young girl's life and a man's future hang in the balance of Harry deciphering what's really going on -- but there's more of Harry's trademark snark and confidence in evidence, and that's always a good thing. The twists of the plot are neither predictable nor shocking; they're just right for a story of this length starring this character. The story itself does not hinge on the events of the novels, and the few continuity mentions there are are aimed solely at putting the story in chronological context.

Oh, and extra kudos to Butcher for including Will Borden, one of my favorite Dresden supporting characters.

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