Saga Press, 2018, 336 pages
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 on whom she has to learn to rely.
Number-one New York Times best-seller Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, True Blood, Midnight Crossroad) returns to fantasy in a taut thriller set in a US where magic is an acknowledged truth, but disreputable.
I have not read any of the Sookie Stackhouse books, nor seen True Blood, but I knew Charlaine Harris's name and this first book in a series looked kind of interesting, so I decided to give it a try.
An Easy Death is set in an alternate history where the assassination of Franklin Delano Roosevelt caused the United States to fall apart. New England went back to Britain, Mexico reclaimed most of the Southwest, Canada claimed much of the north, and Russia gobbled up most of the West Coast. "Texoma" and "Dixie" are independent, basically third-world countries. Also, there is magic, though apparently only the Russians use it openly.
Suspend your disbelief about the U.S. collapsing because FDR died, and everyone else strolling in to peel off chunks of it. An Easy Death is a fairly paint-by-numbers Western crossed with a modern Urban Fantasy, so even though racism and sexism still exists, no one really raises an eyebrow at multiracial, mixed-sex crews of mercenaries, or a 19-year-old woman plying her trade as a gunslinger/bodyguard. But it's an entertaining story with lots of action.
Lizbeth "Gunny" Rose is hired to look for the bastard offspring of a Russian sorcerer who is very important to the Russian Royal Family. The two "Gregoris" who hire her are a bitchy British sorceress named Paulina and her hot Russian partner Eli. Lizbeth spends most of the book brooding about how much she hates Paulina and how annoying she finds Eli so that the inevitable betrayal and equally inevitable sex scene will be extra-dramatic.
The worldbuilding was not deep, mostly just an excuse to stick sorcerers in a Western with an America not quite like ours. The cast of characters was Harris's strong point, as she developed quite a web of relationships and established enough secondary characters and subplots to carry us into the next book, while mostly tying up the main plot of this one.
I liked it well enough that I'll probably check out the next book in the series.
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