Reviewed by: Margaret and Amy
Rating (out of 5): Margaret 4.5 stars
Amy 5 stars
Note: While review will be spoiler free, it does make reference to previous books in the series. If you haven’t started yet, check out VBC’s review of Shifting Shadows for the Alpha and Omega novella.
Margaret: It’s been three years since the last Alpha and Omega release, Fair Game, but I didn’t have any trouble getting back into Charles and Anna’s world. It’s almost as if these are regular mysteries where the detectives just happen to be werewolves. The paranormal elements feel so natural that I don’t even notice how fantastic they are. What is unusual about Dead Heat is that they don’t start to pursue the villain until halfway through the book. Still, I was never bored with the story.
Charles and Anna travel to Scottsdale to visit his human friend Joseph, who is in his eighties, and buy Anna a horse for her birthday from his family’s ranch. When they arrive they discover that Joseph’s daughter-in-law and her children have been attacked by Fae magic. Since Joseph’s father Hosteen is also the Alpha of the Scottsdale pack, they don’t know if the attack is random or the first in a war with the Fae. After some investigating of their own, Charles and Anna team up with FBI Special Agent Leslie Fisher, who they also worked with in Fair Game, to find the Fae responsible.
Amy: I thought Dead Heat did a really good job referencing events from Fair Game, but they’re also things that have been bubbling for a while now (like the mounting tension with the Fae) so I wasn’t confused, I just jumped right in.
Margaret: In addition to the mystery, Dead Heat is a moving meditation on life and death. In his role as the Marrok’s executioner, Charles has become somewhat numb to death in general. It also keeps him from making many friends. But Charles spends a great deal of time thinking about mortality when he sees his aging friend. Joseph is one of very few people that he’s allowed himself to be close to, so his impending loss has a profound effect on him.
Amy: I agree that the life and death aspect of the book was very well done. It wasn’t too ‘in your face’ about making a statement, it seemed to flow very naturally, I guess stemming from the fact that Charles (and other werewolves) can live forever while any human connections they make will eventually pass on. It’s more easily connected to Charles and his life (rather than Anna’s) because he’s already lived so long.
Was it just me or did it seem like the spirits were working through Charles a lot more in this one than we’ve seen before?
Margaret: I think what makes these issues so powerful is seeing it through Charles who is usually such a strong silent type. I did also notice Charles working with the spirits a lot more. I wonder if it was because his emotions were closer to the surface that made him more accessible to them. I was also struck by how Anna’s powers are growing. At first (in the A&O novella) she just had to be in the pack to have a calming effect. Now she can actively unleash her Omega powers.
Meanwhile, Anna is very much in love with her husband and wants to have a baby. Despite the complications from being a werewolf, she doesn’t understand why Charles doesn’t want one too. The Fae’s attack on children only strengthens her maternal instincts, but it also eventually allows her to understand his reservations
Amy: I did like getting more out of Charles who, as you say, is usually such a silent person. I really enjoyed Anna’s little internal comments about deciphering what Charles is feeling and thinking by looking at the slight movement of his eyes or his lips. I thought it was funny and cute. In fact, I really liked Charles and Anna’s relationship in this one. I love them together, but this time it just seemed like they really found their rhythm with one another.
When the series began, Anna is still trying to navigate around the whole mating thing and how two people can have this connection basically right away upon meeting. Maybe this also lends itself to why Anna’s Omega power seems so much stronger? She’s getting more comfortable with it and herself.
Also, are you anticipating the building tension between the Fae and the rest of the magical community as much as I am? The Fae in this book was rather grisly with the whole stealing children thing and releasing this awful, scary Fae from the reservation. I’m wondering: What is the endgame here? Is it just revenge for forcing them onto the reservations? I think things are set up really well; I would like to see a book where both Alpha & Omega and Mercy Thompson series connect and have one big battle.
Margaret: I do suspect that the two series will come together for a big finale at some point. Mercy has been involved with the Fae off and on, but it will probably take something bigger to draw her in. I think the Gray Lords were just humoring the humans when they went to the reservations. Because they live so long, they can bide their time before they try to take over the world.
Charles and Anna also spend a significant portion of the story shopping for horses. I am not a horse person, so I zoned out a little bit during a few of those parts. I still appreciate the attention to detail and the amount of research that must have been involved, though. Readers who do know something about horses will probably really enjoy that part of the story.
Was there anything you didn’t like?
Amy: I would say the horse stuff made my mind wander a bit. Which I think is a little unfortunate because it’s one of the reasons Anna and Charles go to Arizona in the first place. I liked the way the horses where shown/used throughout the book, but there were moments when just too much time was spent on descriptions and dialogue about breeding.
Margaret: Other than those few moments, Dead Heat kept me completely engaged and even moved to tears at times. I’ve often thought that the Alpha and Omega series is even better than Mercy Thompson (and Mercy is pretty awesome) and this book definitely lives up to my high expectations.
Amy: I agree about the series being slightly better than Mercy (which is hard for me to say because Mercy is one of my favorites). As a whole, the way all the storylines were relevant to the general theme of life and death and the way they just wove together so seamlessly, for me, even the small negative about the horses pales in comparison to the awesomeness of the rest of the book
Sexual content: sex