Margaret and I have a lot of books in common, starting with Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and Dorothy Dunnett. It was Margaret who introduced me to Margaret Maron's books. I trusted her recommendation, but I admit that I judged the books from the covers. Here's the first book:
|(The stories don't quite match the covers. Mercy wears more clothes & fewer tattoos, for starters.)|
The main character in the series, Mercedes Thompson, is a VW mechanic with her own shop in the Tri-Cities. She is also a shapeshifter who turns into a coyote, an inheritance from her Native American father. Mercy's teen-aged mother was unable to cope with her changeling child and found a pack of werewolves to raise her. What Mercy learned there helps her deal with the local pack in the Tri-Cities, led by the charismatic (and gorgeous) Alpha wolf Adam. She also has a connection to the local vampire seethe through her friend Stefan; and to the fae community through Zee, a grumpy old fae who gave Mercy a job at his garage and later sold it to her. Many of the fae have retired to reservations, one of which is located near Walla Walla. (I wish there had been a fae reservation in Walla Walla when I lived there.)
I enjoy science fiction and fantasy, but I haven't read a lot of books with shapeshifters, let alone werewolves or fae. I've avoided vampires ever since a so-called "children's" edition of Dracula scared me out of my wits in elementary school. But these books really hooked me in. They are written mainly from Mercy's point of view, and she is a great character, strong and snarky - and very sneaky when she needs to be (and not just in her coyote form). She is a loyal friend, and it's that loyalty that draws her into her adventures, often to solve a mystery. She moves between the mundane world of her garage and the supernatural communities, sometimes as the liaison between them. I find the politics of the werewolves, the vampires and the fae very interesting, particularly watching Mercy negotiate (and often get the better of) them.
Silence Fallen is the tenth book in the series. It's a series that really needs to be read in order, as more of Mercy's history is revealed through the stories, and as relationships are built and broken. There is also a large cast of characters to get to know - this book even has a helpful list in the back (a first). I won't say much about the plot, but this is the first book set mostly outside Washington State. It takes place mainly in Milan and Prague. It introduces some new characters, one of whom is a real Trojan Horse. That part of the story, which caught me completely by surprise, had me frantically flicking back to re-read.
Patricia Briggs has already announced that the next book will be in her second series, set mainly around the werewolf pack where Mercy was raised. I like those books, except for the third (Fair Game), which has a serial sadistic sex killer. I really hate stories with serial killers. But that series does have my favorite secondary characters, a blind witch named Moira and her werewolf mate Tom. Ms. Briggs has said she has a story in mind for them someday, and I will be in line to buy that one whenever she gets around to writing it.