Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lazy days of summer

Being unemployed is almost like being a kid again during summer break.  Wake up late, snack throughout the day, spend some time outside, and read, read, read.  Eventually though, even I got bored with that, which is probably why my mother would send me to do something for awhile.  I guess that urge to do something has stuck, because starting next week summer will be over for me.  Yup, that's right, I found myself a (temporary) job at a bookstore as a runner.  

It should keep me occupied.

But, in the meantime, I still have oodles of time on my hand and two, that's right, two books to review.

Cry Wolf, by Patricia Briggs, is a follow up to her short story in On the Prowl, entitled The Alpha and The Omega. It introduced us to Charles, Mercy's second-oldest foster brother, and Anna, a submissive werewolf in a Chicago pack.  Recognizing Alan MacKenzie (the boy from the first Mercy book, Moon Called), Anna realizes what happened to him was her Alpha's fault, so she calls Bran, who in turn sends Charles to investigate.  I don't want to give too much of that story's plot away (although once I start reviewing Cry Wolf you'll probably get the gist of it), but Anna and Charles end up somewhat together.  Charles is all about claiming her as his mate, but Anna went through a lot at the hands of her former pack and she's not all that sure about Charles.

(Now, if anyone has read the Mercy series, this story is set at the end of the first book, when the whole Gerry & Carter Wallace things happens.  Samuel is back for the funeral, Bran is grieving for his friend, and over in Spokane, Adam is still dealing with Mercy. (Heh.) If you haven't read the series, well, some of the side plots might not make sense, but that's OK.)

Now, in Cry Wolf, we find Anna with Charles in Montana, where Anna is trying to come to grips with everything (she's not submissive, she's an Omega, Charles's wolf has claimed her as his mate, and Anna's wolf feels the same way) and it's a bit overwhelming.  Then there's Charles, who is still seriously injured and trying to heal himself while making Anna feel comfortable. The funeral the next day doesn't help matters; Anna's thrust into a new pack that's both grieving and angry at their recent losses and not ready to welcome anyone, much less a new female.  The attentions of Asil, a Spanish wolf somewhere around Bran's age, don't help matters between Charles and Anna, as Asil tries to flirt with Anna as well as get under Charles' skin.  

There's also the troubling rumors of a rouge werewolf up in the hills; the first sighting was written off, but the second missing body can't be ignored and Charles and Anna are sent out to find out what's going on.  They end up dealing with more than anyone thought; someone old, insane, and with powers that threaten not just the pack, but every wolf in North America.  

It was an excellent story and I'm really hoping that we get another book featuring Charles and Anna, although not at the expense of Mercy!

The second book I finished was The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett.  From the back:

A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a sightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grafter named Joel Cairo, a fat man named Gutman, and Brigid O'Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime.  These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammet's coolly glittering gem of detective fiction, a novel that has haunted generations of readers.

What more can I say?  Sam Spade is exactly what I pictured him to be, a tough, sly, gritty man, stereotyped in every black and white film I've ever seen, who cares about nothing and no one but himself.  When a recent case, brought to them by a crying redhead, ends up being the reason his partner is killed, Spade takes it upon himself to figure out the why and the who.  Everyone involved has a secret they'd kill for and everyone, everyone is lying.  Spade doesn't seem to care though, letting them tell their lies and hide their secrets, while calmly picking the whole thing apart.  I won't tell you that it's a happy story, and there's no happy ending here, but there is a satisfying one and this won't be the last book by Hammett that I read.

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