(Hachette Digital 2006)
I’d seen this series recommended to me on Amazon, but it was only when I read a review on the Book Smugglers blog of the latest in the series that I decided to try the first book. I enjoyed it, but am not sure that I’ll be seeking out the rest.
Mercy (short for Mercedes) is a car mechanic in the Tri-Cities, in eastern Washington. She’s a tough, self-reliant woman, part Native American, who has a vampire friend, Stefan, and cordial, if not friendly relationships with the local werewolves. Her former boss, and mentor, is one of the lesser fae – though we don’t learn all this straightaway. The book begins when a young werewolf appears at Mercy’s garage asking for a job. Against her common sense, she agrees. Mercy is a Walker – she can change shape into a coyote – but she has a healthy respect for werewolves and their instincts, some of which are easier to control than others. When the young werewolf, Mac, is killed, and the Alpha of the local werewolf pack is badly injured and his human daughter Jesse kidnapped, Mercy feels she has no option but to take Adam to her foster family – another werewolf pack in Montana – for healing and to seek help. This is not a step she takes lightly, since she used to be in love with Samuel, eldest son of this Pack’s Alpha, but he thought of her more as a potential mother of his children than as a lover, and so Mercy’s feelings for him are rather mixed.
With their help, Adam heals, but is all too eager to get back to Washington to find his daughter and take vengeance against her kidnappers. With the reluctant aid of the local vampires, they find out where the bad guys are hiding, and who is helping them.
It’s a fairly simple plot, but Briggs develops her world nicely – there’s rather too much info-dumping at the beginning – and there are interesting relationships and interdependencies between the supernaturals and the humans. Briggs doesn’t shrink from describing violence, but she conveys a good sense of landscape, particularly of wintry Montana, and I liked that most of the action was set in a city of the USA which isn’t normally portrayed in fiction.
It’s competently written, and the characters’ motivations and behaviour are quite believable (if a little stereotyped). There’s a rather sweet and awkward relationship between Mercy and Adam which is not quite friendship and not quite romance, though it’s hard not to compare this novel with Kelley Armstrong’s take on werewolves in Bitten, for example. Certainly Briggs’ werewolves would fit into the pack structure as Armstrong imagines it. I also like that there’s some incorporation of Native American legends with Mercy’s ability to change into coyote form.
The main drawback for me was that it just wasn’t very memorable – perhaps the later books might show Briggs getting into her stride and giving the reader something a bit different to the paranormal fiction of Armstrong or Laurell K. Hamilton (Moon Called is unusually and refreshingly free from sex, however, compared to the latter writer) – but on the evidence of this, the few differences aren’t enough to make me seek out the rest of the series.