‘Fair Game’ is the third novel-length episode of the spin-off series from the Mercedes Thompson series. This series is a comfort read for me. I’m restricting myself to one book a month so that I don’t gobble them all down too quickly.
The last book, ‘Hunting Ground‘established Anna in a stable relationship with Charles. This book starts by looking at the burden Charles carries for being the Marrok’s enforcer in a time when greater than normal discipline is needed because the werewolves have just publicly declared themselves. To ease the pressure, the Marrok gives Charles the opportunity to be a good guy for a change. He sends Anna and Charles to Boston to collaborate with the FBI in hunting a serial killer whose targets are known to have included werewolves. The Marrok puts Anna in charge and sends Charles as her escort
It was good to see Charles’ vulnerable side for once and I enjoyed watching the FBI trying to figure out how someone as small and young and unthreatening as Anna having authority over the very-intimidating-to-be-with Charles.
One of the things that draw me to Patricia Briggs’ books is how well she draws characters. Anna and Charles both feel real to me. She also has a highly developed magic system in her books. I realised as I read ‘Fair Game’ that one of the things that make the magic so convincing is that it emerges from the characters themselves. Their attributes and behaviours are fundamentally shaped by the kind of magic they use so if you believe in the characters, it’s inevitable that the magic will feel real. In this episode, I was reminded of just how unpleasant the witches in this world are. I think they’re the scariest of the creatures.
This is quite a dark episode. The serial killer’s victims are raped, tortured and disfigured before they are killed. Patrica Briggs manages to bring the horror and the evil of that home without glorifying the killer or making us sit through protracted scenes of violence. Once again she demonstrates that humans who give way to fear and hate can be more monstrous than the vampires, werewolves or Fae.
I’ve come to the Alpha and Omega books after having read all the Mercedes Thompson books. As they share a timeline and I’m years behind on the Alpha and Omega books, I occasionally get to see something I knew about portrayed in a different light. In ‘Fair Game’ I finally get an up-close view of what led to the Fey declaring themselves to be a sovereign nation, separate to the USA and to retreat to their territories. Now I know what happened, I’m amazed they showed such restraint in their dealings with the government.
I admired the way Patricia Briggs delivered a good hunt-the-serial-killer story while expanding her world-building and continuing to develop the main characters.
The one thing I dislike about these books is the covers. The English cover (the blue one) has absolutely nothing to do with the story. It makes Anna looks like a leather-fetish assassin. The American cover (the red one) isn’t quite as bad. Anna looks OK but is that seriously the best that they can do when drawing a werewolf?
Anyway, despite the covers, I’ll be back for the next book, ‘Dead Heat” next month.