Cry Wolf
by Patricia Briggs
(Ace, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN  978-0-441-01615-0
****
Branching off from her series about the coyote-shifter Mercedes Thompson, Patricia Briggs takes us further into the world of the supernatural with the first book in a new series called Alpha and Omega. Anna and Charles' story actually began in a short story included in the 2007 anthology On the Prowl. The short story itself was wonderful, and I would encourage its reading before Cry Wolf, if for no other reason than to discover the background from which Anna emerged. Followers of Briggs will recognize several of the characters, primarily Charles himself (who is the brother of one of Mercy's love interests, Samuel Cornick) and Bran Cornick, his father, who is the Marrock, or leader of the werewolves.

Charles is his father's Enforcer — read, assassin. Currently, courtesy of the Chicago pack from which he rescued Anna, he is a wounded assassin. To give him much-deserved credit, when a rogue werewolf is discovered in a treacherous wooded area, Bran doesn't hesitate to send Charles in. However, given the nature of the attacks and Charles' injuries, Bran does do something unprecedented: he sends someone with Charles. Much to Charles' dismay, Bran chooses to send Anna.

Charles and Anna discover pretty quickly that a rogue werewolf is the least of their worries – a witch is stalking them, trying to get to another member of the Marrock's pack.

The witch comes along a little too late in the story; too much of the first half is given over to Anna's move to Montana with Charles and their budding relationship. Once the witch and her guardian werewolf discover the wolves (and the rogue, with whom they team up), the game is on. As usual, Briggs's dialogue is spot-on and her narration makes beautiful transitions from heartbreaking to hopeful. She's not big on the comedy, so don't expect a light-hearted read, especially considering Anna's abusive background.

Cry Wolf won't leave you hanging, but it leaves enough things tenuous that the next book in the series will certainly be welcomed. One very fine thing about Cry Wolf is the further insight into Bran Cornick, who has remained a fairly elusive character in the Mercy Thompson books; their methods of dealing with Bran just more clearly defines the differences between Anna versus Mercy as heroines.

Readers need not worry that the Alpha and Omega series will just be more of the same; it does seem to run parallel to the Mercy series, but, though the tone was much the same, the main characters are entirely different, and functioning in entirely different societies. It stands well on its own and complements the other series swimmingly. So, lovers of fantasy, Briggs, or paranormal romance – pick this one up, it's guaranteed to please.

--Sarrah Knight


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