Short Story Review: “Last Call” by Jim Butcher

5 of 5 stars.

Set within the Dresden Files’ World [a stand alone, yet numbered 10.6 within the series], this modern day, wizarding tale applies the detective noir voice to a well-cast Chicago landscape. Harry Dresden, flawed but good-hearted wizard detective, continues to “advise” the Chicago Police Department, and especially Sgt. Karrin Murphy, in all matters supernatural. Sometimes this means magic or monsters, and other times it denotes beings crossing over from the Nevernever land of the Fae and all things mythic. Like a one-off episode of Supernatural, this is one of the latter, yet with a wicked sense of fun.

Most impressive is the extreme character-building in such a short-story, and the re-establishment of the world’s physical rules of magic. This tale is highly recommended.

Harry just wants a drink at the end of a long day when he finds his favorite brew pub, MacAnally’s for the magically inclined, trashed and Mac not in a good state. Short work, and aid from Harry’s intern Molly, determines that the home brew has been tainted. Murphy and he need to round up the disaster waiting to happen and determine who’s behind the deed and why.

The door was opened by a blonde in an expensive business outfit showing a lot of decolletage who had clearly been expecting someone else.

“Who are you?” she stammered.

I flashed her my laminated consultant’s ID, too quickly to be seen. “Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, ma’am,” I said in my official’s voice, which is like my voice only deeper and more pompous. I’ve heard it from all kinds of government types. “We’ve had a report of tainted beer. I need to check your bar, see if the bad batch is in there.”

Things never go easily for Harry who usually manages to end up on the receiving end of hospitals or jail cells. Also, the people he works with, Murphy included, often lose enough memories to make Harry’s life resemble the movie Groundhog’s Day. Nevertheless, this tale is rife with humor:

[Harry] “If you’re going to muck with the drinks, why not start with the big beer dispensary . . . You’d get it to a lot more people that way.”

She sneered at me. “Beer, brewed in cauldrons the size of houses by machines and then served cold. It has no soul. It isn’t worthy of the name.”

“Got it,” I said. “You’re a beer snob.”

This tale appears in Street Magicks edited by Paula Guran. I received this new anthology from Netgalley. The short story was originally published in Strange Brew [St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009]. I’ve previously read Butcher’s:
     Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)–4 stars
     Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2)–4 stars
     Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, #3)–4 stars

 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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4 responses to “Short Story Review: “Last Call” by Jim Butcher

  1. Pingback: Short Story Review: “Love Hurts” by Jim Butcher | Jaffalogue

  2. Pingback: Novel Review: Blood Rites [The Dresden Files, #6] by Jim Butcher | Jaffalogue

  3. Pingback: Novel Review: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher | Jaffalogue

  4. Pingback: Novel Review: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher | Jaffalogue

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