Review: An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris
Series: Gunnie Rose #1
Published by Saga Press on October 2, 2018
In a new trilogy that presents a chilling alternate history of the United States where everyone believes in magic—but no one is sure whether they can trust it.
Gunnie Lizbeth Rose has been hired by a pair of Russian sorcerers as both their local guide and muscle through the small towns of East Texas as they search for a distant relative of an infamous sorcerer whose bloodline can help save their emperor-in-exile as an ever-increasing number of assassins tries to stop them.
After the assassination of FDR in the 1930s, the US collapses and is picked off by the UK, Canada, Mexico, and Russia. We find ourselves in the southwestern states now known as Texoma. It is here that the gunnie Lizbeth Rose tries to piece out a life, running security on runs from Texoma, across the border to Mexico where work and prospects are stronger. When two Russian magicians come looking for a man named Alex Karkarov, they hire Lizbeth to find him or his family, but there are problems: The man they're looking for is dead, but he has a daughter they now need to find, as an ever-growing set of sorcerers and gunnies do not want them to succeed. It’s a good thing Lizbeth is a deadly gunfighter; too bad she hates sorcerers, even the ones she has to learn to rely on.
I found An Easy Death to be very easy to get in to. I immediately enjoyed getting to know Lizbeth. She is fiercely independent , speaks her mind and is quite the shot. Really, there’s not much not to like.
Lizbeth, also known as Gunnie Rose, is part of a crew of “gunnies”, which are are pretty much hired protection, people skilled with handling bandits that might try to prey on their customers as they travel. Because this world they live in is a bit of a wild west, there is a good amount of lawlessness, Gunnies, while not really approved of by the law (what law there is), are a necessity if travelers want to get to their destination safely. But even for gunnies, the roads can be terribly dangerous as bandits set traps and ambushes where their victims will be lucky if their worst fate is merely being robbed of all their wealth and possessions as the bandits are likely to murder and rape as well. Like I said, it is a tough world with harsh realities.
Lizbeth suffers a terrible, unthinkable loss during one of these trips with her crew, but almost immediately she is offered a job that she doesn’t want to do, but really can’t turn down either. For her new job, she will be working solo instead of with a team of gunnies, and will be escorting and guiding two wizards (Paulina and Eli) as they desperately search for a man whose blood is supposed to be some magical cure for the emperor. Lizbeth does not trust magic users one bit, so travelling alone with this pair the last thing she wants to do. But she is also a proud and dedicated professional, and commits to the job. Once she commits, she will see it through no matter what because that is the type of person Lizbeth is.
The world in this is an interesting alternate history where the US pretty much collapsed and borderlines were redrawn, Canada absorbing some areas, Mexico some, England reclaimed some areas, Russia actually colonized areas to the west, and some regions regrouped to form new countries like Texoma, where the story takes place. The Russian region is magic heavy, so our two wizards are Russians. There is a lot of prejudice against Russians and magic users, and Lizbeth is quite biased against both. Her travels with these two is an interesting opportunity for her to see them as people instead of just an us versus them scenario. Her personality really clashes with Paulina, but Eli she slowly starts to see as something other than a stereotype. He is nice and respectful, I found myself a fan of his pretty quick. It’s a nice way to show how humanizing a population can lessen the impact of racial bias. People are people, get to know them and you can see that. Lizbeth was reluctant, but you can see her change through the journey.
I’ve read other books by Harris, and I have to say I enjoyed this one much more than the others. It had less focus on romance and more focus on the characters and world, and really, it was just a whole lot of fun. Definitely recommend for anyone who is a fan of kick-ass heroines and/or wild west style settings.