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Mean Streets by Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Kat Richardson, Thomas E. Sniegoski
Review by Gayle Surrette
Roc Trade Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451462497
Date: 06 January 2009 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Mean Streets is comprised of four novellas: "The Warrior" by Jim Butcher, "The Difference a Day Makes" by Simon R. Green, "The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog" by Kat Richardson, and "Noah's Orphans" by Thomas E. Sniegoski. Each of the stories stars the author's signature character so, if you want to read about a character you like by an author you enjoy, this book is for you.

There seems to be a trend lately for books that are a collection of novellas from authors who write in similar subgenres. When a book with two authors that I regularly read, and two I've been meaning to read comes across my desk, well, it's hard to pass it up. So, it was pour a cup of coffee and settle in for a some entertaining excitement.

First up is "The Warrior" by Jim Butcher. I won't keep you in suspense, it's a Dresden story. If you've kept up with the Dresden books, you'll remember that Michael Carpenter was severely injured at the end of Small Favor. Dresden has received an implied threat to Michael or his family. He's worried and wants Michael to take up the sword again. The story revolves around Dresden's relationship with Michael and his family and the fact that Dresden now has two of the swords once carried by the Knights. For those keeping count that means there is only one operating Knight of the Sword in the world right now until Dresden manages to recognize a potential Knight and hand over one of the swords. It's a wonderful story of trust and loyalty and tidily ties up the ending of Small Favor by bringing us up-to-date on Michael.

Simon R. Green's "The Difference a Day Makes" is a roller coaster ride of a story in the Nightside universe. I haven't read any of the Nightside, but found this one easy to slip into and enjoy without a lot of background other than knowing that John Taylor has a knack for finding things. In this story, he's hired to find a woman's missing memories of the day before. Liza Barclay found herself in the Nightside and missing her memories. She's not the sort to venture into the Nightside and knows nothing about it. Taylor and Dead Boy swing into action to help her find her out how she got there and what happened. But like most Nightside tales, from what I learned here, the ending, while fitting, leaves the reader with more questions than answers.

Harper Blaine, Kat Richardson's Greywalker protagonist, finds herself in Mexico with a clay dog on the Day of the Dead. It was supposed to be simple, take a clay dog to a small Mexican town and put the dog the specified grave. But simple jobs are seldom simple and Harper finds out a lot more than she knew about Day of the Dead celebrations, revenge, and justice. If you're familiar with the Greywalker series this makes a nice interlude story while waiting for the next novel. Admit it, if you're a fan haven't you always wondered what would happen if Harper was involved in other cultures death rituals and beliefs?

Thomas E. Sniegoski's "Noah's Orphans" was a bitter-sweet tale of love and loss. Remy Chandler, fallen angel, now detective, is recovering from the death of his wife when he's approached to find out who murdered Noah. Yeah, that Noah. Seems Noah has been a recluse lately and had some strange ideas that maybe some creatures managed to survive the flood even though they weren't on the Ark. I'd never read Sniegoski before but I really enjoyed Remy Chandler. Even in this shorter work, the depth of characterization and emotional conflict stands out. When I finished the story, I felt that I'd been put through the wringer. This particular what if raised a lot of questions and leaves the answers up to the reader and Remy.

All in all, four great stories you won't want to miss, as they seem to fill in some of the gaps between novels and give you a peek into the character's lives you like to read about.

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