In Bone Crossed, the fourth installment in the Mercedes Thompson series, Mercy is learning to cope with her new role as the mate of the local werewolf pack while still suffering the effects of a horrific assault that occurred at the climax of Iron Kissed. Complications from inter-species conflicts remain a central theme, and her relationship challenges don’t simply fade away, but Mercy Thompson does not cry mercy.
Patricia Briggs keeps the story moving, introducing new plot elements which require Mercy to constantly re-evaluate and adjust. Another author might wave a magic wand and make things all better for Mercy, but Briggs doesn’t, and my respect for her writing deepens as a result. Too many authors leave their heroes static, allowing everything to magically work out right without much effort by the characters. But just as real life keeps tossing us problems, so Briggs doesn’t let Mercy rest. It’s not that she’s on a non-stop wheel of pain — it’s just that she doesn’t get to skip through life without paying the bill for being an agent of change. New issues continue to pop up, and past choices by supporting characters come back to haunt Mercy and her friends. I love that Briggs makes her heroine deal with the second and third order effects of having broken with tradition and made enemies in the past.
Bone Crossed is not a long story, and Briggs doesn’t cover lots of new ground here, but there is still plenty to absorb in this well-written novel. Patricia Briggs deserves high marks for maintaining a high level of realism (and high quality writing) in a genre that’s not consistently known for that. Briggs keeps both feet on the ground while leading us on another exciting chase through an urban fantasy world that is better developed than any other I have read.