Monday, 26 March 2012

25. "Fair Game" by Patricia Briggs

Page count: 352 pages
Date begun: March 7th, 2012
Date finished: March 9th, 2012

This is the third book the Alpha and Omega series, and while it can be read without previous knowledge of the series or characters, it's a lot better if you've read the previous two. So avoid this review if you want to avoid spoilers, and if you're interested in starting from the beginning, check out Cry Wolf.

Anna Latham is a werewolf and an Omega wolf, a wolf that has the ability to stand outside normal pack structure and calm other wolves, especially Alphas. They are deeply treasured in any wolf pack because of their ability both to stand up to the Alphas and keep them sensible, and for their abilites to soothe the often volatile tempers of other werewolves. Anna is married to Charles Cornick, who's not just an Alpha wolf, but the son of the Marrok, the leader of all the American werewolves. Charles is also the enforcer who has to clean up when werewolves break the very strong edicts placed upon them. Since the werewolves are openly "out" in society, they also have to make sure they survive in the public scrutiny. Since the existence of werewolves was revealed, Charles has had a lot more executions to carry out, and it's taking its toll on him.

Anna is very worried about her husband, and manages to convince his father that unless Charles gets some different responsibilites for a while, he's going to snap, and lose control completely. The Marrok sends Anna and Charles to Boston, to assist the FBI in a serial killer case. It turns out that the killer's last three victims were werewolves, and once Anna and Charles investigate further, most of the killer's victims seem to be supernatural in some way, either werewolf or fey, although none of the victims were openly acknowleged as such. The killer clearly has knowledge not available to the general public, and the task of finding him turns is not made easier when Charles and Anna's lines of communication are threatened by the ghosts haunting Charles.

A couple of years have passed since the previous book in the Alpha and Omega series, and the characters have grown and developed in the interim. Anna, who came from a background of abuse and mistreatment has grown strong and confident, and her love and loyalty to Charles makes her unafraid to take on her ancient and extremely powerful father-in-law, even when she knows he won't like the truths she has to tell him. She is deeply hurt by the distance that is developing between Charles and herself, and determined to do anything to help him, whether he wants it or not.

Charles is deeply loyal to his father, and carries out the duties imposed upon him, even as it's slowly driving him crazy. His Native American heritage means that he sees the spirits of all the wolves he's had to execute for rule breaking, and they refuse to give him peace, taunting him and threatening his bond with Anna. He tries to protect her by cutting himself off from their mate bond, but ends up endangering her further with his distance. Even though I thought Charles was quite dumb throughout much of this book, and I suspect many of his issues would have been solved if he just spoke to his father and his wife honestly, I can also understand his need to shelter and protect Anna. Several centuries older than his wife, he's been used to relying only on himself, and because Briggs writes her characters so well, I'm sure I'll feel less like slapping some sense into him in the next book.

Fair Game updates us on several already familiar characters in Briggs' universe (she also writes the Mercy Thompson books - highly recommended), as well as introduces us to some intriguing new ones, including a human FBI agent who's not the least intimitated or scared by the existence of werewolves and fey, as long as they stay on the right side of the law. I hope we see more of her, and of Isaac, the Alpha of the Boston werewolf pack. Never afraid to take risks, Briggs makes sure the ending of this book opens up exciting and interesting possibilites for both the series she's writing. While I was a bit underwhelmed by her last Mercy Thompson book, the ending of Fair Game now has me hoping she will write a lot more, and fast, so I can find out what happens next.

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