Werewolves have recently come out of the closet, sparking prejudice among their human neighbors. Bran, leader of all North American werewolves, is cracking down on anyone who breaks Pack law, as these transgressions engender more bad feeling between humans and werewolves. Thus, the use of capital punishment has increased. Bran’s son, Charles, is the designated executioner, and his grim task (and his guilt about it) is battering his psyche and driving a wedge between him and his wife, Anna.
So, to help Charles’s mental health by giving him something more heroic to do, Bran sends Anna to help the FBI crack a tough case with Charles as her backup muscle. The case is that of a serial killer and rapist who has evaded capture for decades. The murderer initially targeted human victims, later killing fae as well, and the last few victims have been werewolves. Anna and Charles have information and skills that might help finally catch this killer, with the help of human agents such as the awesome Leslie Fisher. But there are political undercurrents and conflicts among the agents, and continuing tension between Charles and Anna… not to mention a killer on the loose, hunting for werewolves…
I had only read a little of the MERCY THOMPSON series previous to picking up Fair Game, and hadn’t read any of ALPHA AND OMEGA. However, I was never lost or confused, and had no trouble getting into the story. If you’re behind on these series, or new to them, Fair Game will still make sense to you. The Anna/Charles dynamic, I’m sure, gains extra emotional heft when you’ve followed them through the first two books, but their arc is compelling even if you haven’t, and the mystery plot is self-contained (though it will have big ramifications going forward). The one caveat is that Fair Game contains some spoilers for River Marked in the MERCY series.
The mystery is dark, disturbing, and suspenseful, and provides Anna and Charles with plenty of moments to shine both individually and as a team. The romantic plotline is refreshing, delving into territory that too few authors explore: not the courtship stage of a relationship, but the problems that fall under “for better or for worse.” They also have great banter that provides some needed levity to the story. There’s a bit of a political aspect to the novel as well. Some of the rhetoric spouted by Fair Game’s bigots is all too similar to the way some people in real life react to those who are different.
Fair Game is tense and emotionally moving. I recommend it to urban fantasy fans. It definitely makes me want to go back and read more of ALPHA AND OMEGA and see what I’ve missed.
GIVEAWAY! The publisher has provided a giveaway copy of the urban fantasy anthology On the Prowl, which includes “Alpha and Omega,” the novella in which Charles and Anna first met. On the Prowl also features novellas by Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, and Sunny. If you’d like to be in the drawing for this book, just leave us a comment. Check back in a week to see if you’ve won. US only, please!