Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

Fair Game by Patricia BriggsFair Game by Patricia Briggs
Narrator: Holter Graham
Series: Alpha & Omega #3
Published by Penguin Audio on 3/6/12
Genres: Fantasy, Romance

Story: B+
Narration: A-

Quick Review:

Go. Now. Listen or Read. Start at the beginning of the series if you haven’t already. Let me just cut to the chase: I love this series, that’s all there is to it.

The Plot:

Charles Cornick has been his father’s enforcer for longer than he can remember. When you’re a werewolf, that can add up to a lot of years. With the werewolf community officially ‘outed’ to the world at large it has become critical to keep the North American packs under tight reign and being the instrument of that control is beginning to wear on Charles. Anna knows that her husband is in trouble but she can’t make his father listen to her. When the FBI approaches the werewolves requesting their help investigating a series of murders in Boston where some of the victims were werewolves, Charles’ father Bran decides to send Anna. Where Anna goes, Charles goes and this may be an opportunity for him to restore a little balance in his life and catch the bad guy instead of being the bad guy.

Just after they arrive in Boston, the daughter of a powerful fae becomes the newest victim of the serial killer and it’s a race against time to find her before she’s killed. Competing government agencies, some of which are more interested in learning more about the werewolves via Charles and Anna than in catching the killer, all have players in the game. The victim’s father, Charles, Anna, an FBI duo, and the head of the local pack will have to battle black witchcraft, fae magic, and the worst impulses of humanity before their time in Boston is over. The book culminates in an event that will have consequences that should reverberate throughout the next book in this series as well as the next in Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.

My Thoughts:

The hunt for the serial killer is a strong storyline with external conflict that drives much of the book but just as engaging (or more so for me) are the dynamics between Charles and Anna as well as the construction of the pack dynamics. Anna and Charles are such a great couple and the combination of romance, humor, tension and action that surrounds them makes for a great story. I enjoy how they defy the expected pairing of an Alpha male and either a helpless female or a bad-ass chick who needs a compatriot in ass-kicking. Both characters have their unique vulnerabilities and areas of conflict but it’s as a couple that they find peace in their lives. Anna has come a long way since her unwilling transition to werewolf in an abusive and dysfunctional pack and it’s…well…charming to watch her interact with the FBI and assorted government people in a confident manner. Charles is battling the emotional toll of his enforcement work and it endangers the peace he has found with Anna. Anna wants nothing more than to save Charles as he once did her but there’s a struggle between her desire to do so and Charles’ need to protect her from his ghosts.

Added to the mix is Charles’ “brother wolf” who takes the stage a lot during this book as Charles’ human half steps aside to deal with the emotional pressure of his ghosts. Briggs’ writing is tight and the prose is concise but the construction of the world, the pack, and the personalities that populate both is rich and real to the listener. The werewolves are a fascinating combination of human and animal and the contrast between the romantic story line and relationship challenges Anna and Charles undergo with the capability for violence both posses and the cool practicality of “brother wolf” makes for complex characters I can’t see myself tiring of any time soon.

The Narration:

Holter Graham turns in an excellent performance with this audiobook. He gives the author’s words the commitment they deserve and despite his very deliberate delivery of the narrative, he holds the listener in the moment as the story unfolds. Dialogue is natural and reactive and the characters are clearly differentiated and consistently maintained throughout the audiobook. My one complaint is around production as there were a larger than normal number of what I assume were proofing retakes because the voice tone in those snippets didn’t mesh with the surrounding sections, pulling me momentarily out of the story. I do have to say, Mr. Graham tops my list of male narrators who deliver convincing female voices without any type of drag queen sound. I really enjoyed the narration.