Bone Crossed

Cry Wolf

Hunting Ground
by Patricia Briggs
(Ace, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0441017386
The process of bringing werewolves "out of the closet" is not a simple one in the slightest. Charles Cornick, son and executioner to the Marrock—read, king—of the American werewolves knows this better than most.  Despite that, and centuries of deferring to his father Bran's judgment, Charles insists that Bran skip a werewolf-wide conference in Washington.  Charles, with Bran's witchborn background as well as the shamanism that runs through his mother's native American blood, often senses things before they happen. With the help of his new mate, Anna, the pack's Omega, Charles convinces Bran to stay home - which means Charles has to go in the Marrock's place.

Neither Bran or Charles are men without enemies, so when an attempt is made to kidnap Anna the first night the werewolves gather, Charles is not surprised.  Worked up, yes.  Even puzzled to some extent, as Anna insists the would-be kidnappers were vampires working with werewolf magic.  Charles trusts Anna's judgment implicitly - and Anna tries to return the favor.

Anna Latham first appeared in a short story in On the Prowl (which I would strongly encourage readers of the Alpha and Omega books to read), battered and abused by her pack. However, though submissive, Omegas abide outside the typical werewolf pack structure and have an uncanny ability to soothe the feelings of their more dominant brethren. Charles recognized this in her immediately and, though he would have rescued her regardless, took her as his mate when their wolves demanded it.  

Anna is learning, slowly, to trust Charles the man where their wolves immediately came to terms.  As the trust grows, Anna blossoms.  In Hunting Ground, Anna for the first time exerts her abilities to control the wolves when necessary.  She also takes part in investigating the murder of the wife of one of the other Alphas at the conference —and proves herself correct several times.  With the aid of the only other Omega werewolf she's met, Anna even includes herself in the hunt that is put on as a respite from the conference.

Though the growth of the characters in Hunting Ground essentially pushes the novel, Briggs, usually an ace storyteller, seems a bit off her game with the plotlines. The various criminal elements and crimes themselves are almost too convoluted— or, perhaps, just not given enough screentime—to make much sense.  In fact, it takes the old cliché of the villain spilling their guts to tie up the loose ends.  Even after that, some readers may shake their heads and wonder.  The conclusion of Hunting Ground will leave many with the feeling that it wasn't quite done yet. Though Hunting Ground also lacks Briggs' signature insights into the feelings of others, it is regardless a must-read for fans of the author or this series specifically.

--Sarrah Knight

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