Patricia Briggs,
Mercy Thompson #3: Iron Kissed
(Ace, 2008)

Someone's killing fae on the Umatilla Reservation. Mercy (Mercedes) Thompson gets called in by her mentor, Zee, to help see if she can scent out the killer. She's a skinwalker, possibly the only one in existence, and her sense of smell could provide the fae with information to solve the case.

While she's investigating, she also discovers a secret, and now she understands far better why the fae were so willing to let themselves be locked up on reservations. Unfortunately, the rulers of the fae, the Gray Lords, know she knows, and that could pose a problem since they keep their secrets close.

Very shortly after, a reservation guard is savagely murdered. Zee is the prime suspect, literally caught red-handed while the guard's blood is cooling. Zee goes to jail and refuses to speak a word in his defense, despite Mercy's hiring the best criminal defense lawyer she can for him.

Despite warnings from the fae, Mercy takes the case. In order to find the killer, she's going to have to use more than just her nose.

Mercy Thompson novels are some of the best serial fiction in urban fantasy. Patricia Briggs excels at character development and not rushing relationships or even growth on her people. Her characters are also good at staying in character.

The mystery in this plot is almost as good as the fantasy. Briggs has a talent for dramatic writing and she can sink a barb deeper than a mad porcupine. She also did keep me guessing until very near the end of the novel, which is not that common even for hardcore mystery writers.

What is most interesting about Briggs' writing is her world building. What happens to the world when the supernaturals come out? Many authors have posited an alternative world with this type of scenario. In many ways, I think Briggs' guess is one of the most interesting and accurate. And as the old saw goes, "those who do not study history are destined to repeat it." Well, those who do study history will strongly recognize the common patterns from Briggs' books to our history, particularly reservations and the level of hate-group activity.

review by
Becky Kyle

24 May 2008

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