I first discovered Patricia Briggs while on a Spring Break trip with my best friend, Ashlin, and her family in 8th grade. We were in Myrtle Beach and had wandered into Books-A-Million at the mall. Ash and I both loved to read (and still do) and our taste in books has always been similar. I picked up Moon Called by chance, the first book in Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series, and we both loved it.
Almost ten years later and I’m still a fan of her books. She has several series and a few standalone books but I like her Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series best. Briggs is a fantasy and paranormal author whose books contain magic, werewolves, vampires and other creatures as well as lots of action, suspense, and some romance. Understandably, if you are not a fan of the fantasy or paranormal genres then this author may not be for you but let me assure you that Patricia Briggs’ books are nothing like Twilight.
Dead Heat is the fourth full length book in the Alpha and Omega series. The actual start, or “book 1,” of the series is a short novella that was published as part of an anthology entitled On the Prowl that contains Alpha and Omega as well as three other short pieces by different authors. The series itself focuses on Charles and Anna. Charles, the younger son of the North American’s Marok (i.e. Alpha of all the Alphas) is Native American and the only known natural born werewolf. He is also his father’s enforcer—and hitman when needed. Anna is a young woman from Chicago who was harshly pulled into the world of werewolves after being turned into one by her crazy ex-boyfriend a few years ago. The series follows the two of them as they travel around the US dealing with werewolf and other paranormal-related issues.
While reading the previous books in the series is not necessarily critical to understanding what’s going on as Briggs does an excellent job of succinctly reviewing past relevant events and facts from the other books, I would still recommend reading the series from the beginning. I say this not because I’m biased—although I do love the series—but because it’s only over the course of the books that you can really see Charles and Anna’s relationship develop as well as grasp the nuances of Charles’s relationship with his father and Anna’s growing relationship with her new father-in-law and his pack members.
In Dead Heat, Charles and Anna travel to Arizona to visit an old friend of Charles who is dying and find themselves searching for whoever—or whatever—is going after local children. On her website, Patricia Briggs describes the newest Alpha and Omega as “Dead Heat is about life and death. About how much courage it takes to bring new life into the world, and to say goodbye. It’s about aging and family. But mostly? There is something hunting children in Arizona—and it must be stopped.”
I have to agree with Briggs’s self-assessment of the book. While I think the surface focus of the book lies mainly on finding out what has been hunting local children, I think the heart of the story is about the balance of life and death and how hard it can be to say goodbye to someone you love. While saying goodbye is never easy, sometimes it’s necessary. And sometimes, when it comes to the ever on-going fight of good versus evil, that goodbye is what allows the good to push back the evil for one more day.