Many urban fantasy writers include werewolves, fae and vampires revealing themselves to the world, but only a few actually look at how people would realistically react. Patricia Briggs' "Fair Game" gives us both a sobering portrait of how things might unfold AND a solid serial-killer thriller. The third Alpha and Omega novel has a suspenseful story at its core, but Briggs also provides quieter moments so her characters can breathe.
After having to kill several werewolves, Charles is beginning to crumble mentally; he's seeing ghosts and starting to give in to his bloodthirsty instincts. So he and Anna are sent to Boston on a special mission -- assist the FBI on a serial-killer case that has lasted decades. The killer initially had a straightforward pattern (Asian teenagers), but began including werewolves and fae. Each one was carved with witch symbols, raped, and finally murdered.
Now the human daughter of a high-ranking fae has been kidnapped, and the FBI/werewolf team has only hours to find her. But the case becomes particularly strange when they discover that a long-dead witch and a bizarre kind of fae may be involved in it. And unless they figure out who the killers are fast, Anna might be their next target.
"Fair Game" tries to tackle a lot of heavy topics -- prejudice, the cost of killing, and the way normal humans would see the "monsters." And honestly, Patricia Briggs does really well. She doesn't dip into any heavy-handed gay/racial symbolism, and she doesn't depict ALL humans as slavering racists or groupies either. Laurell K. Hamilton should take notes.
The plot is a heavy, fast-moving affair with a feeling of creepy, overhanging suspense, marred only by a few scenes where the characters seem to forget the crisis. It's heavy, dark stuff, made of blood, black magic and killers who are complete unknowns, winding up into a bloodsoaked, genuinely freaky finale. It also has a finale that is both satisfying and realistic, altering the dynamic of human/supernatural relations. Things won't be the same again.
But Briggs also inserts scenes that allow her characters moments of quiet and reflection. And occasionally, there's some gentle humor -- the chapters from Brother Wolf's POV ("No taxis for werewolves!", or Charles and Alistair singing a Welsh folksong after the rescue.
This book also addresses something that perplexed me about the previous Alpha and Omega books: how can a guy like Charles be okay with being an enforcer/executioner, and how can Bran be okay with sending his son to kill? Turns out they aren't -- Charles is haunted by the ghosts of those he killed, and at times Brother Wolf has to take over to keep him from losing control. Fortunately, Brother Wolf is adorable.
Meanwhile, Anna has developed a lot from the frightened, timid creature she used to be -- she's now stronger and more assertive than before. She even faces off against the Marrok. And Briggs populates Boston with a solid cast of characters -- the strong, capable Leslie, the feisty local Alpha Isaac, and the elegant ancient fae Alistair.
"Fair Game" took a long time to arrive, but it was worth it -- this is the sort of urban fantasy that we need more of. And it leaves you wishing you knew what would happen next.
on 16 March 2012
I've enjoyed all the Alpha & Omega and Mercy Thompson books to date and this is a fine development of Patricia Briggs' themes.
In a gripping, well-paced adventure the action takes place in a world in which fae and werewolves have gone public up to a point. This being a reflection of the "real"world, PR and managing the image the wolves present to the mundane population is hugely important. This has consequences for Charles Cornick and Anna, leading them neatly into the main story.
The "whodunnit" side of things is intriguing and suitably ugly. One of Ms Briggs' strengths is the way she brings all senses into play in describing scenes. I could feel my skin crawl as she described how the residue of black magic felt to the wolves, and my nose almost twitch at some of the descriptions of a "smellscape" at a crime scene.
Underneath the adventure layer is the continuing tension between Charles and Anna as they adjust to mate-hood and Anna develops both in confidence (with oh-so-many setbacks, poor thing!) and use of her Omega ability. This is no magic wand solving all situations, and it's a mark of the quality of the writing that Ms Briggs has thought about how the peace of the Omega could have different effects on the man/wolf aspects of those affected.
Overall, a really good read, rich in background but without sacrificing pace. And joy of joys, a great set-up for more books at the end! I am more than happy to wait for the next if it means it will be as good as this one.
on 13 March 2012
FAIR GAME, which is book three in the Alpha and Omega series, a spin-off of the Mercedes Thompson series, takes place a little over a year after the last book. When we were last with Charles and Anna, Anna was just beginning to overcome the abuse she'd suffered at the hands of her first pack. A pack that had turned her brutally and deliberately knowing she would become an Omega wolf, in an attempt to cure their Alpha's crazy mate. Her treatment at their hands had left her a frightened rabbit. But with Charles' gentle but fierce support, she'd managed to make major progress on the road to recovery.
Cut to a year later and it's now Charles that's needing support. His job as the Marrocks enforcer has taken on new meaning after the werewolves announced themselves to the public. Harsher punishments are being issued and it's affecting Charles. Something Anna is only too happy to point out to the Marrock, aka, her father-in-law, Bran. Bran decides a change of scenery is in order and so sends them both off to Boston to deal with a problematic case working alongside the FBI, hoping this will give Charles and Anna the time they need to sort themselves out, and also as a good PR spinner.
Sounds like a plan to me.
I admit I was kind of saddened to see that Charles and Anna's mate bond was in jeopardy once again after the progress they made in the last book. They are so well suited to each other and such a sweet couple that I don't like to see them going backwards and regressing. But the mix of these relationship issues and the developing mystery/police procedural plot, made for good reading nonetheless. Even if some of the subject matter of the case was disturbing.
The pacing for the first three quarters of the book wasn't the fastest I've seen from Briggs, but the last quarter? Whoo hoo! That was some ending, I absolutely loved it!
I can't help noticing a few changes to the Mercy Thompson world that may effect the next Mercy book. I can't wait to see where Briggs is going with that idea.
on 12 March 2012
Not many Authors could manage to pull of what Patricia has dared to do, and to do so well. Two have two series running along the same time-line with occasional references to each series and I hope that maybe, someday down the line some of the characters will overlap.
I knew that Patricia would ultimately find a way to take both of her series and bring the time-lines together. This is great and I think that it is going to make both of these series much more interesting. Especially if each couple can `invade territories' occasional!
Anna and Charles need to make a trip to Boston to help the FBI with a serial murderer that has taken out a few werewolves as well as many Fae. Anna is a great choice to send (along with Charles) for this job since she is much better at PR than anyone else is. Moreover, why wouldn't she be? Her Omega-ness will calm almost anyone and have them eating out of her hand, so it stands to reason that she will be great at PR.
Now Charles is having a problem that he (naturally) has not discussed yet with Anna. It has to do with the ghosts of the last wolves he has had to `discipline' and what it is doing to him mentally AND physically. It is not good. Charles guilt has the ghost feeding off him almost like vampires and this will hinder him at critical times.
It is great to see that Charles is able to use his Brother Wolf when Charles feels he can no longer handle things.
The story moves at what I think is a perfect pace, and allowed for the perfect amount of time to deal with everything on Anna and Charles's plate . Yet, I have to agree with one of the other fans...why wasn't this book longer?
Patricia has allowed Anna growth in very few books, and that is almost unparalleled with any other author and she has allowed us in this novel, to see Charles being vulnerable. This was an amazingly emotional novel as far as Anna and Charles goes, but it does have its usual humorous bits, informative bits and even occasional snarky bits.
This novel has one of the most exciting (although I don't mean that in the usual sense) endings that I have come across lately.
Just what will the Fae Princes proclamation mean for Mercy and the Fae on the reservation there and all the Fae that she knows? What is it going to mean in future books? Will it be important? I for one CANNOT wait to find out.
on 11 May 2016
Better than the last one. I adore these characters and their relationship and that was all that kept me reading the last book but this one was great. A bit dark but a good thriller.
I also liked the introduction of the new characters - Fisher and Goldstein, Isaac, and Beauclaire.
I've also enjoyed how different the three books have been, story wise. The introduction story was about retribution for Anna's treatment, the first was about finding a witch, the second was a murderer within the wolves and this one was like a procedural cop show...! I just like that they're not all the same.
Will read the final one now, assuming it's a different type of story again and with hopes of happy endings for everyone :/
on 15 March 2012
I came to this after reading a rather laborious free thriller. It was a joy to be picked up and carried along by a fast paced, well written, well characterised story. I won't describe the plot, others have done that better than I could, but will say that it's a cracking good read and I can't wait for the next one to come out.