Fair Game

By Patricia Briggs

Book Cover: Fair GameA couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the first two Alpha & Omega books, and mentioned that the third one was out in hardcover. Fortunately for me, my new local library had it, so I was able to read it without paying a hardcover price. My expectations were moderate since Briggs has a tendency to lose steam with her ongoing series, but I was satisfied with Fair Game. It wasn’t as well-crafted as Cry Wolf, the first book, but I thought it stood on par with the second book, Hunting Ground, but in a different direction.

Cry Wolf had a really good balance of fantasy and mystery, while Hunting Ground tipped more toward the fantasy, pushing the mystery into the background a little bit and focusing more on the dynamics of the werewolves and vampires. Fair Game goes in the opposite direction, being a pretty surprisingly straightforward murder mystery with the fantasy elements just adding a bit here and there. Now, I really like murder mysteries, so this was a-ok with me, and if given my preference would almost always chose for the mystery to come first and the fantasy second.

I wish I’d thought to mention this in my previous post, but Briggs does this so well that while I really appreciate it, I don’t always notice it, if that makes sense. Her Alpha & Omega books are all written from multiple points of views, changing the narrating voice by chapter, or occasionally within different sections of chapters. It reads a lot more naturally than you’d think it would, with different characters stepping in when they have information that the reader needs. In the previous two books, the narrators have all been werewolves; in Fair Game, for the first time, one of the narrators is a human investigator, which is a refreshing outside perspective and emphasizes the mystery aspect of the story.

Spoiler-y, but not really: the very end does something very, very interesting with the world Briggs is building in the these books, so I’m actually now super-excited for the next books in both this series and the Mercedes Thompson series, which both take place in the same world, since there are going to be some dramatic changes.

— Anna

Alpha & Omega Series

By Patricia Briggs

Sigh.

Sorry about the recent lack of posts. At the beginning of the month, I moved halfway across the country from Boulder, Colorado to the Washington, D.C. area. I was all prepared with three prewritten posts to get me through the chaos of the actual move itself. What I hadn’t predicted is that I would get so overwhelmed with everything being new and different that I would immediately retreat into simply rereading my trashy comfort books, which is what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks at a furious pace.

I’ve reread all five of Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels books, which Rebecca has already written about, and both of Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega books, which I figured I’d introduce here, since it could be a little while since I read anything new.

Briggs is better known for her Mercy Thompson series, featuring a female mechanic who shape-changes into a coyote, but was raised by a pack of werewolves. It is your typical werewolf/vampire genre series, but just done far better than most. Whenever I run into Charlaine Harris fans, I always make a point of recommending Patricia Briggs, since Mercy Thompson is everything Sookie Stackhouse isn’t: smart, independent, funny, etc. The first two books are immensely entertaining (I might read them next), and the third one is equally good but delves into some unexpectedly difficult-to-read territory (I am not going to read that next). After that, Briggs seemed to lose interest a little bit, and the subsequent books do not have the same quality of writing and plotting.

However, Briggs then turned her attention to a new series, the Alpha & Omega series, currently with two books in paperback and one in hardcover, which I haven’t read yet because I’m very much against hardcover books. This new series is great! It features peripheral characters from the Mercy Thompson books who are a little darker and tortured, which I always appreciate, and is set smack in the middle of the werewolf pack, instead of on the fringe.

The series actually kicks off with a short story/novella in the book On the Prowl, which is often shelved in the romance section and has a cover that will embarrass you to be seen carrying around. On Rebecca’s advice, I haven’t read any of the other stories in the book, but the Alpha & Omega story is actually good enough to be worth the full cost of the book, in my opinion. (Although, on a side note, the story is available on its own for the Kindle through amazon.com, which is one of the best arguments for a kindle that I’ve heard so far.) The story does set the entire series up to the point that the reader would be missing serious background information if they started with the first full novel.

Book Cover: Cry WolfThe first full novel is Cry Wolf, and just really delves into the characters and their relationships with each other, all within the confines of a very well structured and paced narrative. The second novel, Hunting Ground, doesn’t have quite the same tight plot structure, but is still very entertaining. I’m somewhat afraid I’m seeing a bit of a pattern with Patricia Briggs, so I’m mentally preparing myself for the third book being a potential disappointment, but I’m still very much looking forward to reading it. Right at this moment, I’m more into comforting fluff books than quality, so I’m sure it will live up to that.

— Anna