- Beth Solka
I used to have an old Volvo that broke down frequently. The problem was a hose that would fly off of the engine. I always carried a screwdriver which I would use to reattach the hose and go on my way. One morning I was rushing in the door to work after one of these episodes when my supervisor stopped me. “What happened to you?” she asked with concern. I had no idea what she was talking about until I followed her eyes down to my arms and realized that my forearms were covered with black dirt and grease.
I explained about having to fix my car on the way to work, and she just stood and stared at me silently for a very awkward minute. Suddenly she burst into song! “I am woman. Hear me roar. With numbers too big to ignore. And I’ve come too far to turn back and pretend.” She turned to walk away but kept on singing at the top of her lungs. Her song only died away when she turned the corner and went down the other hall.
Right then and there I decided to get a new car.
However, I have always admired mechanics and that is why I love the Mercedes Thompson series, by Patricia Briggs. When Mercy Thompson cannot find a job as a teacher, she becomes a Volkswagen mechanic. This is a fantasy series which includes shapeshifters, vampires, werewolves, fae, and an assortment of monsters. Mercy Thompson is the daughter of a Blackfoot Indian, who died before he knew he would be a father, and a teenage girl. Mercy is a shapeshifter who can turn into a coyote. She is a heroine who is loyal, courageous, agile, intelligent, and kind.
In the book River Marked, which is the sixth and newest book in the Mercy Thompson series, Mercy and Adam Hauptman marry and go on a camping honeymoon beside the Columbia River. They soon discover that there is a river monster killing people who stray too close to the water. When Mercy tries to help a fisherman who is trying to escape the monster, Mercy is “marked” by the monster through a long, ugly wound on her leg. Being marked means that Mercy has ties to the river monster and she becomes haunted by the ghosts of those people the monster has killed. This action-packed story of her honeymoon gone wrong does not disappoint the reader’s expectations even though Mercy is not surrounded by her regular wonderful assortment of friends in this story since it takes place beside the Columbia River.
Patricia Briggs has done her research for this book. The Columbia River does have Native American folklore regarding a river monster and the Indian spirit Coyote who tricks the River Monster. Clever Coyote is always surrounded by chaos in Indian folklore, as is Mercy Thompson.