Long-time fans are likely to be the biggest benefactors of Working for Bigfoot, Jim Butcher’s collected trio of Harry-Dresden-meets-Sasquatch stories, but newbies (like me) may find it the perfect gateway into the world of the author’s popular Chicago-based wizard.
The three stories – “B is for Bigfoot,” “I Was a Teenage Bigfoot,” and “Bigfoot on Campus” – form a loose trilogy about Dresden’s interactions with a Sasquatch known as Strength of a River in His Shoulders, and the beast’s half-human son, Irwin. Irwin has never met his father, and Strength (we’ll just call him Strength for short) thinks things might be easier for the boy if such a meeting never happens. He still wants to watch out for his son, though, which is why he contacts Dresden when he believes the boy is being bullied.
“B is for Bigfoot” chronicles that first meeting, in which Dresden goes undercover as a school janitor to keep a watchful eye on Irwin. What seems like an easy assignment quickly becomes complicated as Dresden finds that any intervention on his part could lead to an all-out war he’s not ready to fight. “Teenage Bigfoot” sees Strength once again call on Dresden when Irwin falls ill – something which is apparently not supposed to happen to a Sasquatch, half-breed or not. Dresden, plied with nuggets of gold and a burgeoning friendship with Strength, takes the case again, which this time involves a black magic attack waged on Irwin for a seriously silly, seriously selfish reason. In “Bigfoot on Campus” Strength again calls on Dresden, but this time he’s unsure of what help his son might need – he just “knows” that something is wrong. He’s right, and the culprit – a life-energy sucking vampire that doesn’t know it’s a life-energy sucking vampire – presents a new, more complicated challenge for Dresden to tackle.
For the most part these stories are lighthearted affairs, but there’s a serious thread running through them all that Dresden finally addresses in “Bigfoot on Campus” – whatever Irwin needs, he needs a father the most. “You can go hire Superman to look out for Irwin if you want to,” Dresden tells Strength, “and he’d still be the wrong guy – because he isn’t you.” It’s a sobering moment in an otherwise playful group of tales, and it has a way of casting everything that’s come before it – and all that’s yet to come in this last story – in a new light.
Working for Bigfoot is an easy recommendation for Butcher fans who may not have run across these short stories in their original appearances, but it also makes a great introduction to the author’s work for those who have yet to read a Harry Dresden adventure. No matter which camp you fall in, Working for Bigfoot deserves a place in your to-be-read pile.