Dead Heat: an alpha and omega novel by Patricia Briggs
Possible trigger warning for child endangerment.
Charles and Anna head to Arizona, trying to kill two birds with one trip: Charles wants to see an old friend who has never met Anna, and he wants to buy Anna the perfect birthday present. In this case, both can actually be killed at once because the old friend, Joseph Sani and his father Hosteen breed horses and Anna should have the perfect horse (they do a lot of riding in Montana). Charles hasn’t seen Joseph in a long time because, unlike Hosteen, Joseph isn’t a werewolf and that means he’s aging while Charles (and his own father) isn’t. It’s hard for Charles to see his old friend slowly fade, but Joseph won’t consent to changing and it’s against the rules to change him against his will (also a really, really bad idea). Charles’ refusal to change the old man is causing tension between him and Hosteen as well.
But, before things can really get going on the horse-buying end of things, Joseph’s son Kage (Hosteen’s grandson, not a werewolf) comes in and, collecting his cellphone, finds four increasingly frantic messages from his wife, Chelsea, who is suffering from headache pain and the worry that she his trying to kill their children. Kage, Hosteen, Charles and Anna head immediately to Kage’s house, and find the children safely locked in a bedroom while Chelsea has been hurting herself to keep from hurting them. She’s so badly hurt, in fact, that the only way to save her (and also find out what’s going on) is to Change her to a werewolf (there is a spell on her, compelling her to kill the children and then herself; if the children are safe she should also kill herself. It’s a complicated spell, and fae).
It turns out some bad things have been happening at the daycare that Kage and Chelsea’s kids go to; a teacher committed suicide, and a family was killed in a head-on crash (one of the parents swerved into oncoming traffic, though it was raining so it could have been an accident). When Charles and Anna go investigate the daycare itself, they find a child has been replaced by a fetch, which admits to putting the spell on Chelsea before turning into its true form, an inanimate mannequin.
The Fae have turned one of their darker members loose, a creature that hunts human children, a fae serial killer. Charles and Anna, along with Hosteen and his pack (and an FBI agent we met in Fair Game and the local CANTRIP agents) must find and stop him before he kills again.
Throughout these books and the Mercy Thompson novels there has been an ongoing plot of the supernatural creatures (werewolves, fae, vampires, witches) dealing with the day-world. The Fae came out of the broom closet first, and then the werewolves. For most of that time, both cultures cooperated closely with humans, because there’s so many of us. But then a human jury set a human serial killer free because his victims (people he captured, tortured, raped and killed) were fae and werewolves (for years before the werewolves even came out of the broom closet); compounding the error was the fact that the second-last victim (the last victim was Anna, which is why he was caught) was the half-fae daughter of one of the Grey Lords, who was in the position to do something about it. So now the thing that’s got me guessing is whether we’re heading towards a “the fae are mostly monsters and the werewolves stand with the humans against them” storyline (because, let’s face it: the fae are a large percentage monstrous, both in the background to the series and in folklore (though, to be fair to the Fair Folk, all the folklore we have is centuries old; we have no idea how they might have changed in the time since, if they were real)) or if we’re heading into “humans were the real monsters all along” (because, let’s face it: humans turned loose a killer because he was preying on a race/two races they dislike/fear; but the background to this story makes clear that the fae lock up/depower their serial killers who prey on humans, a race they fear/dislike, so the fae come off as better people than the humans do). Time will tell, I guess.
Silver Borne: a Mercy Thompson novel by Patricial Briggs
It is important to note that this is a re-read and also that it occurs some time before the above novel. At this point the werewolves are only just out of the broom closet, the fey are still around.
Things aren’t going well for Mercy at the start of the book. She and Adam go on a date and end up in a fight. Mercy behaves atypically for her, only to realise later that someone in the Pack is using her new magic link to the Pack to control her (werewolves in a pack are mystically linked together. When Adam and Mercy finally committed, she became part of the pack and received those links (sort of like being added to the email lists and such). However, no one thought to teach her the standard defenses that would prevent someone from doing exactly what they did to her), and some members of the Pack don’t like her because she’s not a werwolf.
Then Samuel tries to commit suicide (Samuel was Mercy’s oldest love and for the first few books of the series was the third leg of the romantic triangle Mercy/Adam/Samuel. The resolution of that triangle was one of the better done approaches to that problem I’ve encountered) and in order to keep him alive his wolf-side has taken over, leaving Sam in wolf form most of the time. Mercy has to keep him from Adam to keep Adam from having to kill him; most werewolves whose wolf takes over go mad and kill as many people as they can before dying. Samuel, as both the Marrok’s son and one of the oldest werewolves in North America Samuel is the exception to a lot of rules). This means she takes him to work with her, which leads to a different problem as her assistant Gabriel’s family is there to clean the office . . . that is, Gabriel’s mother and his younger siblings. A bunch of kids and a normal woman. And Mercy is walking around with a dangerous and unstable werewolf.
Fortunately, the kids mistake Sam for a dog and Sam is willing to play along, so everything goes well until a TV bounty hunter busts in and points a gun at Sam, proclaiming that he’s defending a kid from a vicious werewolf. Of course, Mercy takes him down and they call the police; it seems that he thinks Sam is Adam and that the local cops have a warrant out on Adam and called in the hotshot to take him down. Of course, there are no warrants on Adam; though the bounty hunter has a warrant it’s an obvious fake. Things are even more complicated by the fact that (only the werewolves realise) a hidden fae is waiting across the street during the face off; she takes off rather than be caught by one of the werewolves, leaving behind a gun which can fire pistol bullets from a longer distance: silver bullets, like those in the bounty hunter’s pistol. Someone was supposed to get shot and the Bounty Hunter blamed. But who was the target and why?
As the story goes on it becomes clearer that one of the fae is up to something. But who and what? Add to that the problems with Adam’s pack and Samuel’s trouble, and Mercy is caught in the middle of everything. A good addition to a good series, and highly recommended.