Monday, October 01, 2012

Who are the real monsters?

kw: book reviews, urban fantasy, werewolves, supernatural creatures, mysteries

Fair Game by Patricia Briggs is apparently the third novel in her Alpha and Omega series. Charles is not quite the Alpha wolf here; his father Bran is that. I suppose Charles is Beta, and he is married to Anna, the Omega. Unlike natural dogs and wolves, where the Alpha male only takes the Alpha female as his mate, and the Omega of either sex is the one all others pick on, among Ms Briggs's werewolves the Omega is the peacemaker, the one everyone can't help but like. She is kind of like the ideal Yenta: knowing most everything about most everyone, and a wise counselor to all.

In this constructed world, werewolves and fae (fairies, but not like Tinkerbell; tall and powerful like the elves in The Lord of the Rings) and others such as vampires have "come out", attempting to be integrated into ordinary human society. Attempts to attain some good press are sometimes hampered when younger or newer werewolves lose control and eat someone they should have left alone. Most werewolves are happy enough chasing rabbits or deer when the moon is full, but not all. Charles has become the one meting out justice to those with "poor impulse control", and it is breaking him. He is not sure those he must kill are always worthy of dying.

The diversion Charles needs arrives when Anna and Charles are asked to help the FBI track down a remarkably long-lived serial killer. After thirty years of torturing and killing young women and a few young men, the killer has begun killing young werewolves. Early in the investigation, the new lupine detectives learn that most, perhaps all, of the earlier victims were fae. Then things get truly interesting. It is particularly puzzling that so many supernatural beings could have been taken, over so many years, and left nearly no trace.

It takes the help of a couple of witches to locate the lair of the killers. When you have werewolves, fae and witches amidst a few ordinary humans, it gets very dicey indeed. And in fact, if you just substitute sundry mutually wary ethnic groups for the various "alternative humans", it is quite like a murder mystery in a foreign land with a number of exotic characters. Kind of like Agatha Christie meets J.R.R. Tolkien.

Of course, it mostly turns out well. After a steady diet of hard science for the last few books, a good romp in a well-crafted fantasy world has been great for helping me unwind.

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