I received this book for free from Netgalley, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Alternative History
Published by Saga Press on January 14, 2020
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Midnight Crossroad, Real Murders, Indigo, Night Shift, Sleep Like a Baby, The Pretenders, An Easy Death, The Russian Cage
Second in the Gunnie Rose urban fantasy series set in an alternative history and revolving around Lizbeth Rose and set in a very different, gunslinger-oriented not-US.
This eARC was sent to me by NetGalley and Saga Press for an honest review.
I do like Lizbeth. She doesn’t tolerate spousal abuse, and she has the chutzpah to stand up to abusers. Ahem. This girl just ain’t gonna fit in with what a “proper woman” is in Sally. Nope. Harris plays this up with Liz’s matter-of-fact approach to being herself and to sharing a room…and a bed…with Eli, contrasting this with the townspeople’s “moral” attitudes. It’s all helped along by first person protagonist point-of-view from Lizbeth’s perspective. Lol, I can’t help it, I do adore Liz’s attitude and her commentary as she attempts to fit in.
Conflict…mmm. Seems that Harriet, Liz, and Eli are all after the same thing, although Eli has a greater incentive to succeed — after events in An Easy Death, 1, he’s not in favor at court anymore. There’s such potential for drama with each of them having a different goal, but it all slides together too easily.
It’s odd how Harris uses lowercase for proper names of people’s name tags and businesses.
Oh lord, I HAD to crack up at Liz’s deft handling of Miss Mercer’s invasion of Liz and Eli’s hotel room, lol. It’s an incident that leads to that dinner invitation where Millie Fielder receives unexpected support.
I like A Longer Fall, but there are issues in this that bug me. Harris is an accomplished writer. Between her Sookie Stackhouse series, Harper Connelly series, and Midnight, Texas series, I’d pick up anything of hers to read. But A Longer Fall slips back and forth between callow and experienced writing.
It wasn’t helped by the naive thinking of the do-gooders in Sally about that drastic change coming up. This is a thought process that needed to evolve and not simply jump out at us. I also have a bone to pick with the lack of background. Admittedly, I haven’t read the first book in the Gunnie Rose series, but it’s still a good idea to figure a reader will happen on a book and read it, without having read the preceding tales in a series. Or that it may have been awhile since they read the previous book. I know it would have lessened my confusion as to whether Texoma is a country, a county, or a town. As for Segundo Mexia… Is it a town? A country?
Although, how the hoped-for change actually does come about was quite unexpected. It’s so perfect with how everyone wants to see it go down. Too perfect, really. Too easy.
There is plenty of action in this, and it’s driven by A Longer Fall‘s characters. And with all the references (I’m guessing) back to An Easy Death, I reckon I’ll have to read it to get the answers to my questions…
The crew’s destination is a small town in a country not far from Dallas. A town very few travel on to. Sally. In Dixie.
The cargo is a crate filled with a chest with unimaginable power, intended to free the downtrodden Blacks of Sally. A promise made by a husband to his dying wife.
But there are those opposed to these rebellious intentions.
Lizbeth Rose, a.k.a., Gunnie Rose, is a famous shooter based in Segundo Mexia. Candle is her mother, a school teacher married to Jackson Skidder, Liz’s stepfather. Felicia is Liz’s half-sister, a granddaughter of Grigori Rasputin. Rasputin’s bastard son Oleg Karkarov had been Liz and Felicia’s father.
Eli Savarov, a.k.a., Prince Ilya Savarov, is a friend, a grigori, a wizard of the Holy Russian Empire with whom Liz has worked before. Eli’s father, Prince Vladimir Savaorv, had been a traitor. Peter is a younger brother as well as a grigori with an affinity for air. There are also two sisters, all of whose futures depend on Eli’s success. Paulina had been Eli’s partner in An Easy Death with the ability to kill people in exotic ways. Klementina was an old woman. Eli’s two older brothers claim they’ll help the sisters.
The Lucky Crew is…
…Liz’s new crew after events in An Easy Death. It’s led by Jake Tutwiler, Lavender Brown‘s former second-in-command. His boyfriend is Burke Printer, who prints a newspaper in Sweetwater, Texoma. Maddy Smith, another gunnie, comes from a farm in the middle of nowhere; she had introduced Jake to his boyfriend. Charlie Chop made a name for himself throwing his hand ax in the border skirmishes. Rogelio Socorro seems to handsome people to death.
Harriet Ritter is partnered up with Travis Seeley, and they work for Iron Hand Security, a security company based in Britannia, North Carolina, with a very tough rep.
The town of Sally is in Dixie and is…
…where women are second-class citizens and all magic is godless. The “moralistic” Mr Mercer owns the Pleasant Rest Hotel. Nellie Mercer is his snooty, nosy daughter, whose rudeness is noted by another hotel guest. James Edward Johnson is a Black waiter who is part of the conspiracy. Is he also John Edward?? Harvey is Nellie’s “Intended” whose bullying is aided by his “Friend“.
Clyde Lathrop is the sheriff of the county and investigating the train explosion. Clete is a bloodhound. Dr Jerry Fielder is a decent guy, as is his wife, Millie, who has two years of teacher college. Nurses Finch, Underwood, Allen and Dr Gimball work at Ballard Memorial Hospital. Miss Mayhew is the nurse at reception. Hutchinson and Debeham’s are both busy funeral homes; the obnoxious Donald Barton works at Hutchinson. Caleb Wellburn lost his wife.
Kempton’s Shoe Repair is owned by Brent Kempton who employs Phineas. Beverly’s Restaurant. Ballard’s Pharmacy does sodas and shakes as well. Edith works at a drug store. Aunt Lillybeth’s is a restaurant that serves pecan pie.
Galilee Clelland had been Liz’s best friend who had worked as a guard. Freedom is the son she’d had by an employer’s son; Freedom has a daughter. Reva and Hosea Clelland are Galilee’s Black parents.
The Ballards are the power family in Sally. Amanda Ballard was offered up to Tsar Nicholas by her father, Samuel. Mrs Ballard is the matriarch. Holden is Amanda’s violent brother. Juanita Poe is a servant.
Mrs Evvie Moultry neé Ballard sounds like she’s a nasty piece of work. Willa May is a Black girl hired as her caregiver. Her son, Norman Moultry, is a lawyer married to Carolyn Ann.
Sarah Byrne is an unemployed shooter. Elijah is a Black who is more loyal to money.
The Holy Russian Empire (HRE) consists of…
…California and Oregon these days. Eli serves Tsar Alexei, who has a bleeding disease and is kept alive by, rather, he had been kept alive, by Grigori Rasputin. Now that Rasputin has died, they’re hunting for Rasputin’s by-blows. Amanda Ballard had been Alexei’s first wife. Felix is a fairly new grigori, a death wizard, without much empathy. Gilbert is Eli’s immediate superior in the wind guild. His former superior, Dmitri, was executed. Tsar Nicholas had been Alexei’s father. More grigori include two women; a Black man, Kasper; a Russian, Simon; and, an Englishman, Godfrey.
The church of Holy Russia is Christian Orthodox which believes in Saint Moses the Black. A.k.a., Abba Moses the Robber and Moses the Ethiopian, this saint actually existed and was one of the first Blacks to achieve sainthood.
Stewart and Burton Cole are brothers from Shreveport and shooters.
The Society of the Lamb is…
…this tale’s version of the Ku Klux Klan who don’t tolerate Blacks or witches.
Segundo Mexia is…
…where Liz has a home. Chrissie is her best friend with a new baby girl, Emily Jane. Dan Brick is a neighbor who thinks Liz is his. John Seahorse runs a combination stable and garage.
The Cover and Title
The cover has a cloudy brown background with pale gray gender symbols set in a half-moon, bottom-based outline of fire, lined up in a row above the orange-and-yellow gradation of the title at the very bottom. At the top is an info blurb in pale gray. The author’s name is immediately below it in the same gradated orange. In the center is a sulky looking Lizbeth in profile, her arms crossed, but her face turned to glare at us and wearing a tan short-sleeved, round-necked blouse and deeper brown trousers. Her left hand is holding a smoking gun. Her dark hair is done up in a braid and twisted together at the back of her head.
The only reason for the title I can think of is that it is A Longer Fall yet, for Liz, when Eli makes his decision.