Book Review: An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris

March 4, 2020 Book Reviews 2

Book Review: An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Saga Press on October 2, 2018
Pages: 321
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Midnight Crossroad, Real Murders, Indigo, Night Shift, Sleep Like a Baby, The Pretenders, A Longer Fall

First in the Gunnie Rose urban fantasy alternate history series and revolving around Lizbeth Rose, a young gunslinger.

My Take

An Easy Death definitely requires quite the suspension of disbelief, as Harris’ premise, while interesting, is not believable. Sure there have been alternate history stories that divide America up, but I ain’t buying that the US government slid downhill this badly with this sparse explanation. I do like that women get to be equal in this world, although there’s plenty about civilization backsliding. Sigh.

It’s kind of funny in a hoist-with-your-own-petard way, for Americans are being thrown off their land for not being Mexicans when Mexico takes back parts of Texas, and the Indians take advantage of their opportunity to take back their lands.

How is Alexei’s second wife a Danish princess?? I’m also annoyed by Harris dropping those hints about Mil Flores, but we never find out anything. Dagnabit.

Tracking Oleg across the shattered countrysides of Texoma and Mexico through these tiny towns is a clever way to introduce us to Harris’ world and its trials and tribulations. Using first person protagonist point-of-view from Lizbeth’s perspective ensures that we understand this “new” culture, even as she informs Pauline and Eli.

That Eli sure is a trusting soul. It takes Lizbeth pointing out the obvious before he gets it. As for Paulina…phew…she’s a nasty piece of work.

It’s a convoluted story with bits of humor that moves along at a reasonable pace with plenty of action — ambushes, assassination, murder, magic, betrayals, and crazy escapes.

The Story

Paulina Coopersmith and Eli Savarov need a guide and a guard to track a bastard son of a dead monk. It’s life-and-death for their tsar.

The Characters

The nineteen-year-old, curly-haired Lizbeth Rose is a gunnie who inherited her grandfather’s 1873 Winchester rifle, a.k.a., Jackhammer, and carries a matched set of Colt 1911s. Candle is her schoolteacher mother. Jackson Skidder is Liz’s stepfather who owns the Antelope Hotel and a couple of other businesses. Cedric is Jackson’s brother and a carpenter.

The Tarken Crew has…
…a good reputation for escorting cargo through dangerous territory. Tarken, Liz’s controlling boyfriend of the moment, and Martin tinker with the truck that provides their transportation. Galilee, a black woman, carries a Krag and has hooked up with Martin. Solly is a dead member of the gang.

Freedom is Galilee’s son who works at the tannery and has built his own place. There’s a George Ramsey said to be forming up a crew in Celeste.

What we knew as America

Our world just fell apart, what with the assassination, influenza, the Depression, and the drought…

Texoma is…
… composed of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and a bit of Colorado with justice scarce on the ground. It’s also where Segundo Mexia is located, where Lizbeth lives. Chrissie is Liz’s not-too-bright, good-hearted neighbor. Dellford and Rayford are Chrissie’s sons. Rex Santino. Bobby Saw is a carpenter with a girl apprentice. Trader Army runs a general store; Clarita is his wife. Thomas, Martin’s brother, is one of Liz’s least favorite men. Lavender runs a crew. Frank Hacker owns a pig he’s named Big Balls. Elsie runs a whorehouse. Maude runs the grocery store. James Lee is Tarken’s son; Leisel is his mother. John Seahorse owns the stable. Briar, Star, and Birdie are the horses he hires out. Dan Brick is a friend of Lizbeth’s. Dan is the cook at the Antelope.

Cactus Flats is a town nearby with Cal Trujillo the sheriff. Maria Hannigan is the day deputy; she’s a mother of three and a crack shot. The Elbows Up is a bar that Jorge “Skelly” Maldonado owns (he’s also the undertaker). Becky Blue Eyes is a welcomed whore since Miranda Redhead passed away. Harvey Sweetcheeks is an old whore.

The Holy Russian Empire (HRE) is…
…what used to be California and Oregon. When Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, fled Russia and the Red Army, they ended up in California at the invitation of the Hearsts. Now his son, Tsar Alexei I rules; his second wife is a Ballard, and she’s pregnant. His sisters, the grand duchesses were all married off to cement the Russian royal family’s place in the world. Two of the duchesses, Olga and Tatiana, each have a son with the bleeding disease. Prince Vladimir, a.k.a., Alex Budurov, has a specialty, transformation. Prince Ilya is his son. Grand Duke Alexander is Alexei’s uncle; he married Sophia Feodorovna, his common second wife. Vasily is the duke’s son by his first wife; the younger three sons are illegitimate.

The grigoris are wizards and are one branch of the HRE’s law enforcement; they also keep the tsar alive. Grigori Rasputin, a monk, had been their boss. There are six grigori guilds: Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Healing, and Death. Dmitri Petrov is Eli’s mentor. Klementina is the head of Eli’s order.

Paulina Coopersmith (she’s talented at torture) and Ilya “Eli” Savarov are grigori partners (the Fire and Water Guilds, respectively) sent to recover Oleg. Peter is Eli’s younger brother who should be at school in San Diego. “Esai González” owns the Tourer. Eli’s mother is his father’s second wife; she was appointed an attendant to the tsarina when they went into exile.

Oleg Karkarov is a low-level wizard and illegitimate son of Rasputin. Sergei Karkarov is Oleg’s brother. Irina is another of Rasputin’s bastards, and her children are unsuitable. Daniel had been Rasputin’s oldest child. Franklin is another child to whom Felicia refers to as a cousin.

Timofei Bazarov. More wizards on the other team include Benjamin the Brit, Anna, Andrei, Evgenia, Peregrine, and Belinda.

New America has…
…the same lack of justice, although Joshua Beekins, the brother who got out early, seems to be doing okay in Corbin. His two brothers and their families are farmers who need an escort out of town: Jeremiah and Ruth and Jacob and Martha are the parents. Jael is the oldest girl. Broadhurst’s Boardinghouse for Gentlemen and Ladies is the higher class hotel. Mother Phillips’ Boardinghouse is run by Edna Phillips and cheaper. Seewall’s sells appliances and furniture.

Dixie is…
…what we knew as the South, now a very poor and dangerous South where the Ballards are a very prominent family.

Britannia has…
…”so much law that bandits are caught and hung quickly.” It’s composed of the original thirteen colonies and bonded with England.

Mexico

Mil Flores is…
…a prosperous town on the way to Juárez. Jim Comstock owns Comstock’s Hotel. Godley’s Store is where Manda Godley, a daughter, is manning the counter. Hank Murphy has a naughty cow. Sister Butter has a ravaged garden. Andy is a young whore who’s a good judge of character. Desmond is a mechanic who runs a garage. Belinda Trotter has an empty wagon for the medical supplies she intends to buy. Mr Parsons is a single man and traveling salesman. Marcial Montes is/was a gunnie and a member of Lobo Gris, a criminal crew in Mexico.

Paloma is…
…next where Margaret has three rooms. Its two restaurants include the Angora and Dusty’s. Chauncey Donegan is a gunnie and a friend of Liz’s who is escorting Mr Harcourt and Mr Penn. Nancy, his wife, had passed on from pneumonia last winter. His son is the fourteen-year-old Milton.

Ciudad Azul is…
…next but not a place you want to hang out. Not on this day.

El Soldado has…
…the Hotel para Desconocidos run by Señora Rivera. It’s quite acceptable to wear your guns openly here.

Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, is…
…their destination. Señor and Señora Espinoza own the Speedy Gas Station. José Reyas helps Lizbeth sell the car. Tomás works at Hermosa’s New and Used Vehicles. Felicia is Oleg’s daughter.

Hortensio is…
…a town Lizbeth passes through on her way home where Jacinta is a supportive shaman.

Canada has…

…taken in a lot of northern America with mounted police as the law.

Franklin Roosevelt was the last elected president of the US, although he never did get sworn in. Deconstruction is this time period for the country. Standing Still is a Comanche friend of Liz’s. Josip the Tatar was a gunnie with a big reputation.

The Cover and Title

The grayed-out cover is grim with its cracked road retreating into the distance, a lone cream cowboy hat lying in the middle. On either side of the road lies destruction with a cloudy sky above. At the very top of the cover is a rusty red info blurb with the author’s name below it in a navyish gray. The rest of the text is white starting with the testimonial off to the left of middle while to the right of the hat is another info blurb. Below the hat is the title with the series information tucked in to the bottom left corner of the title.

The title is An Easy Death, a common wish for gunnies.

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2 Responses to “Book Review: An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris”

  1. RO

    Charlaine Harris is such a successful writer, and while I don’t read her work as much as I used to, this book sure sounds like it has so much going on! Wow!(lol) This is one of those stories that I would prefer to see as a movie on Netflix or maybe even a tv series. Hugs, RO

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