Eric Boss reviews AN EASY DEATH by Charlaine Harris
Charlaine Harris is best known for her Sookie Stackhouse novels about vampires in and around New Orleans which were made into the TV series True Blood. She has also authored several series of mysteries and a fantastic (as in fantasy) cycle about a small town in Texas populated by a variety of unworldly creatures and occult human/creatures narrated by a genuine psychic (Midnight, Texas). She has not strayed far afield from her usual subject matter, but this is new territory. Her stories are always good, fast-moving tales with plenty of action, lots of intriguing characters and a fresh prose style that gently urges the reader into a blissful realm of escape. They’re all mystery/horror/fantasy of an especially entertaining stripe.
Here we have a post-apocalyptic-dysfunctional-future tale, but not in the usual mode. Combining alternative history fiction with traditional fantasy the author guides us through a fragmented America where FDR has been assassinated and plagues have decimated the population. In Texoma, in one of the several territories into which the former USA has been divided, two wizards from the Russian-dominated Holy Russian Empire, the part of the West Coast assimilated by expatriates from Imperial Russia are seeking a descendant of Rasputin whose blood, it is believed, may cure the young tsar’s hemophilia. They need to search Segundo Mexico, perhaps New America or Dixie, but likely not Britannia, the East Coast attached once more to the UK. To do this, they have hired Lizbeth Rose, a professional gunslinger known as Gunnie Rose. She’s young, accomplished and ruthless. The plot follows some perhaps predictable twists and turns, but at all times the narrative flows quickly, the characters are engaging (or detestable, as the story demands) and the landscape provides extra opportunities for thrills and adventures. Altogether, it’s a ton of fun. Plenty of gunplay, lots of dastardly betrayals and just enough romance to keep it lively.
If you need a literary vacation, I recommend this one. Your core values will not be challenged, your worldview will not require adjustment and your morals will hold up just fine. It’s just an amusement park kind of ride on which I hollered and cheered with the rest of those on the Whirligig.
Shelf Talker: A departure of sorts for the beloved author of the True Blood, Aurora Teagarden and Midnight, Texas series, this is an entertaining thriller/fantasy with just a touch of romance. Gunplay and intrigue in an alternate version of America, post-apocalypse. A ton of fun, guaranteed.