Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson: Hopcross Jilly #1 review

When were-coyote Mercy Thompson and the wolf pack led by husband Adam find human remains in the desert, they summon the police. These aren't night dwellers who hide in the shadows - the were-community is out to their friends and neighbours. The sheriff is suspicious, wondering if it's a case of the beast people hiding their crime in plain sight, but soon realises he's barking up the proverbial wrong tree, and his officers get on with searching the site. More skeletons are found, filling everyone with horror. 

Are the bodies linked to the reclusive elderly lady/'mean old crone' who lived nearby, who supposedly died a year back?

While Mercy - a mechanic by day - wrestles with the mystery, stepdaughter Jesse is thrilled to have made a new friend at school, her status as the local werewolves' kid having hit her chances of popularity. 

Jesse's prominence gives this comic instant Young Adult appeal, but Mercy and Adam are in their thirties, widening the potential audience for Dynamite's mini-series based on Patricia Briggs' fantasy novel series. Characters and basic situations are skilfully laid out by co-writer Rik Hoskin, allowing us to quickly settle into the mystery. And as a fan of Criminal Minds and other grisly, smart procedurals, it's one with immediate appeal to me. The dialogue is naturalistic (well, as naturalistic as you can hope for in a world of supernatural beings) without being dull, and the situations intriguing. I want to know more about Mercy and her family, and while I admit to a quick Wiki session, I know I'm going to enjoy learning much more by simply following the series. 

Tom Garcia draws convincing critters, I'd not want to meet his were-creatures on a moonlit night, even if Mercy is more likely to cuddle than savage me. I like looking at 'em, though, despite their habit of chasing cute wee animals. His people are great, too - characters don't simply display the immediate emotion of the text, there's nuance in the expressions. And the all-important landscapes, both rural and suburban, similarly convince, with the colours of Mohan helping hugely. As for 'Hopcross Jilly' ... brrrrrrr. 

I cannot wait to meet her properly.