BRIEF CASES is the second collection of short stories by Jim Butcher. The first one, SIDE JOBS was one I tremendously enjoyed because it was a nice mixture of Harry Dresden stories as well as his supporting cast. I also enjoyed seeing more of the Formor, who are my favorite of Jim Butcher's creations even if they mostly serve as cannon fodder and mooks following the destruction of the Red Court.
Brief Cases is a very entertaining collection of short stories which include three stories introducing "Bigfoot" into the world of the Dresden Files, Anastasia Luccio in the Old West, Molly Carpenter versus the Formor, Gentleman Johnny Marcone versus a Formor wizard, Butters' first outing as a Knight of the Cross, and a story where Harry Dresden takes his daughter to the zoo.
So, what did I think of Brief Cases? It's good. I actually was a beta-reader for some of the Big Foot stories back when I was still a super-fan of Jim Butcher's work versus writing my own urban fantasy. The Big Foot stories are easily the best in the collection and I kind of think it was a mistake to make three short stories about the premise versus one big novel called BIG SHOES TO FILL. There's certainly enough material to do a book and the characters are interesting enough to keep me interested.
As for Harry Dresden becoming a dad like Kratos and other aging characters in genre fiction, I'm glad to see he's making an effort to get to know his daughter. Sadly, Maggie doesn't really make that much of an impression in her initial appearance. She's a brave and adorable little tyke but doesn't have much in the way of personality versus, say, Ivy the Archive. Maybe that will change once she ages up.
Molly Carpenter is the character who gets the most development after Harry himself. We get to see her doing her best to fight the Formor threat in Chicago as well as forge alliances for the Paranet. I never much cared for Bat-Molly in GHOST STORY but prefer her being mostly the same Goth Girl she was before, just older and more mature. This book runs her through the ringer, though, especially when we discover what being the Winter Lady entails.
Most of the stories follow the formula of, "X character meets Y monster, they fight" so I can't say it's quite as interesting as Side Jobs. I don't think we get as much insight into new characters as we did in that collection. I think Marcone's story remains the most interesting as we really get to see how prepared and dangerous he is for dealing with a supernatural threat like Harry Dresden.
In any case, I think the best part of this book is it nicely puts me in the mood for a return of the Dresden Files after the long absence following Harry's adventures in SKIN GAME. My greatest regret is we didn't get an idea of what the White Council thought when Harry did his "doomsday hex" in Changes.