(Mercy Thompson, #3)
Release: January 2, 2008
I could smell her fear, and it satisfied something deep inside me that had been writhing under her cool, superior gaze. I curled my upper lip so she could get a good look at my sharp teeth. I might only weigh thirty or so pounds in my coyote shape, but I was a predator...
Mechanic Mercy Thompson can shift her shape - but not her loyalty. When her former boss and mentor is arrested for murder and left to rot behind bars by his own kind, it's up to Mercy to clear his name, whether he wants her to or not.
Mercy's loyalty is under pressure from other directions, too. Werewolves are not known for their patience, and if Mercy can't decide between the two she cares for, Sam and Adam may make the choice for her...
Review by Rose Red:
Someone has been killing Fae on the Reservation. So when her mechanic mentor calls upon her to repay a favor to the Fae, Mercy willing agrees to use her nose to see if she can find an identifying scent of the murderer. While she's investigating, she discovers a secret and the Gray Lords start to believe that she could pose a problem to keeping their secrets close.
Very shortly after repaying her favor to the Fae, a reservation guard is savagely murdered and Zee is the prime suspect. Despite warnings from the fae, Mercy takes up the case to clear Zee's name. In order to find the killer, she's going to have to use more than just her nose. This investigation triggers a whole set of terrible consequences for Mercy.
In my opinion, the Mercy Thompson novels are some of the best books 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. There is no character bleed through between them. This book, more than the previous two, is packed with emotion, mystery, romance, and fantasy providing a full bodied read for the urban fantasy fan. Mercy is at a crossroads in her relationships with the two men in her life, Samuel and Adam. Both are alpha werewolves although Samuel has no pack and Adam is the alpha of the Columbia Basin pack. Mercy must decide which one she loves more because Adam has declared his feelings for her and her lack of definitive response is weakening the pack.
The love triangle was resolved beautifully and not in a way that I saw coming. I generally hate love triangles. I especially hate them when the author is skilled in making me believe that both love interests are good choices. While this love triangle has that attribute, Patricia Briggs wrote it in such away where it didn't annoy the hell out of me. Samuel and Adam are both decent, honorable men but they both also have their overbearing negatives. I was torn going into the story about who Mercy should choose and while I wanted her to choose someone, I wasn't sure which one and when. The way in which the triangle was resolved was subtle and satisfying. I'm totally on board with how the triangle concluded.
The mystery in this plot is almost as good as the fantasy. Patricia Briggs has a talent for dramatic writing and she can completely enthrall a reader on page one. She also did keep me guessing until very near the end of the novel. Mercy eventually figures out who did the killing but not before something tragic (and I know this is an overused word but it is totally appropriate here) befalls her. In order for her to move on, she must come to terms emotionally and physically with this tragedy. The way in which this tragedy was worked into the story was organic to the mystery. I never felt manipulated and Mercy's struggles never felt cheap.
As a reader of both urban fantasy and romance, this book hit all the right buttons for me. There is a depth of emotion in this book not often found in the urban fantasy trope. Many times urban fantasy is compelling for external motivations: world building, mystery, action. The last third of this story, though, was truly emotional. I was moved to tears at Mercy's struggle with the aftermath of her tragedy and grateful for her eventual triumph. Iron Kissed firmly cemented my love of Patricia Briggs's books. She's going to be an auto-buy for me for the rest of forever.
If you haven't started these books, you need to fix that ASAP. Mercy is one of those heroines who worm their way into a permanent place in your heart while dragging the rest of the cast of characters along with them. I cannot recommend this series enough.