Title: Dead Heat (Alpha and Omega #4)
Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Urban fantasy
Published: March 3, 2015
In this fourth book in the Alpha and Omega series, main characters Charles and Anna, the most lovably badass werewolf couple in print, are once again entangled in a creepy supernatural mystery. And once again they are forced to confront their respective emotional hangups in the midst of this supernatural mayhem. And once again I am reminded that Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite urban fantasy authors because of her ability to craft a potential cheesefest with substance and sincerity.
This series is great because it’s so much more than the average light, wackadoodle urban fantasy series – which I admittedly also enjoy, but they’re usually just fun silliness with each book crappier than the last. Patricia Briggs’s books don’t rely on exaggerated plots and snarky humor for their ultimate appeal, and I love that the ridiculous covers are the flashiest, trashiest things about them. Briggs writes with a clean, unadorned style that works so well to create an alternate fantasy world that feels completely natural and is inhabited by believable, compelling characters who just happen to be something other than human.
In this latest book Charles and Anna are their usual wonderful, complex, lovable selves. Even though they have been happily married over the course of the entire series, Briggs still weaves tension and conflict into their relationship without resorting to the cliched drama that you might find in a mediocre romance novel. Instead, this book naturally brings the series to a fresh new place by focusing on the less obvious, more heartbreaking emotional scars of a 200 year old werewolf. Anna has long suspected that Charles’s hesitance to even discuss having children of their own stems from much more than worry for her physical well being, but it takes a visit to his dying, mortal friend and the emergence of a fae monster that preys on human children to get him to confront what’s really been bothering him for most of his life – the greatest vulnerability for an immortal creature with unimaginable power is allowing himself to care for others. Briggs handles all this potential melodrama with aplomb, and these are great characters to become acquainted with slowly over the course of several books.
This book also features an excellent cast of secondary characters that are well rounded and purposeful, and I appreciate that the author writes children with the same attention and care as she does adults. She crafts the few kid characters in this story as realistic and interesting without dumbing them down to a simpler precocious-little-asshole default that is common in a lot of genre fiction. Basically she writes great characters, whether they be human children or werewolf lovers with enough angst to keep them occupied for their entire immortal lives.
I love this series and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who reads fiction. This is technically the fourth full book after Cry Wolf, Hunting Ground, and Fair Game, but the series started with a short story called “Alpha and Omega” that shouldn’t be skipped. You can purchase it alone as an ebook or as part of the multi-author urban fantasy anthology On the Prowl. Also check out Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series if you’re looking for even more palatable paranormal fun with substance. It’s set in the same world as Alpha and Omega and the latest book (2014) features a love sick Canarian volcano god as the catalyst for supernatural mayhem. It’s delightful.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.