Ah, this was much more satisfying than the last Bishop book, "Lake Silence."
We are once again in the world of the Others: supernatural shapeshifters: wolves, panthers, crows, hawks, etc. There are also the more infrequently seen Elementals and the very scary and mysterious Elders who protect the world of Namid from the insidious predations of humans whom they refer to simply as "prey".
Finally, Ms. Bishop has created a strong no-nonsense heroine who is not a pathetic wimp.
Jana Paniccia is a newly minted cop. She worked hard in the police academy; fighting against prejudice concerning whether a woman was "man" enough to become a cop. From a referral from the Wolfgard in Lakeside (where the stories about the Others are mostly set), Jana finds herself in the once-abandoned town of Bennett. One of the few towns in the Midwest that the Elders, after the terrible war between the "teeth and claws" of Namid and the Humans First and Last League, have decided can be resettled. Bennett can still be home to humans as long as they adhere to the very strict rules concerning human behavior and actions.
The beginning of the novel is a jumble of characters making it unclear who the focus of the story is. The first several chapters just create confusion with the constant introduction of new personalities. Finally, the tale settles on Jana and the head sheriff of Bennett, a wolf named Virgil, who along with his brother Kane are the law enforcement for Bennett. Virgil is a rough-edged member of the Wolfgard, and not comfortable with or certain how to deal with a human deputy.
Jana is uncertain too; she is now a member of Virgil's pack and really must take orders from him. Thankfully, she is not completely submissive and lets her opinions be known, as well as biting her tongue to keep silent. The two of them sparring and discovering how to work together is entertaining.
So, as the combination of Others and humans adjust to living together, criminals outside the town are brewing trouble and headed in on the afternoon train. You would think, by now, humans would have really learned their lessons, even the ones who want to rob and kill. But here we have a gang of idiots, who once again think they can take charge of things by showing up in Bennett, with the intent to eliminate vampire Tolya Sanguinati, the de facto mayor and Virgil. Somehow the fact that there was a nasty war and the Others are everywhere---these clueless idiots think the town powers will be ignorant push-overs.
You can easily imagine the rather ferocious ending.
Bennett is full of wonderful new characters working hard to make the town a place where humans and Others can tolerate each other...working towards the symbiosis of Lakeside to the east. I enjoyed this novel a lot. I hope Bishop continues with these characters. ~~ Sue Martin
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