Monday, February 10, 2020

A Fatal Trip Into Dixie

Gunnie Rose # 2
Charlaine Harris
Gallery/Saga Press
January 14, 2020

Lizbeth Rose, recovered from the events and injuries she sustained in An Easy Death, is hired by a new crew. Gunnie is a gunslinger in dangerous modern America, one in which the country split into independent nation-states. The split was precipitated by the assassination of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Even the Holy Russian Empire has a foothold in what was formerly California and Oregon. The crew is protecting a crate being sent into Dixie, one in which there seems to be much interest. The long train ride has been mostly uneventful until the very end when a gunfight erupts, and the train is blown up. The crew leader is injured but alive and is left to guard the crate while Gunnie tries to help survivors. When she returns, the crew leader is dead, and the box has disappeared. Surprisingly, an old friend, Ilya (Eli) Savarov, a "Grigori" (magician) who has his own interest in the crate, one that he refuses to disclose. Gunnie and Eli join forces to search for the container. Gunnie never wanted to go to Dixie, and the reality is as awful as she imagined. Slavery no longer exists, but Jim Crow, racism, sexism, and religious fervor are the norm. An unaccompanied woman, wearing trousers at that, can't pass under the radar in Dixie. Posing as a married couple, the two hope to find the crate and fulfill their respective missions.

I have been a fan of Charlaine Harris' particular blend of genre-bending fiction for a while now. I enjoyed the Sookie Stackhouse series (at least the majority of them) and particularly liked the Midnight, TX, and Harper Connolly series. The blend of alternate history, action, magic, romance, and an appealing lead in Gunnie kept me interested and involved throughout. I am already looking forward to the next in the series. I hope that Eli and Lizbeth can work out the differences in their relative "stations" in life and make a go of it. Since Eli is out of favor with the other Grigori so it might be possible. The differences are more in her head than in his, I think.

Thanks to NetGalley and Saga Press for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING-4.5 rounded up to 5

Monday, February 3, 2020

Old Secrets Always Surface

A Southern B&B Mystery # 2
Caroline Fardig
Random House Alibi
November 12, 2019

Sisters Quinn and Delilah Bellandini are happy to be back to normal and running the family B&B after solving a murder in a local restaurant in Savannah (Southern Discomfort). At least Quinn is happy, having nearly lost her life in the investigation. Delilah, on the other hand, misses the excitement and longs for more. There is plenty of excitement to come when Quinn and her new boyfriend, Tucker Heyward, are digging in his Aunt Lela's yard to build a firepit and discover a long-buried body. When the body turns out to be Esther Sinclair, who supposedly left town for good after her high school graduation, Aunt Lela is in big trouble. She and Esther had quite a history that hasn't been forgotten in the intervening thirty-three years. In fact, Esther had more secrets than any 18-year-old girl should have, along with the members of her high school clique, the "Magnolias." Tucker, who is very close to his Aunt, changes his tune against Quinn's sleuthing and even participates. When the sisters' aging hippie mom and absentee father get dragged in as suspects, the chase is on to find out just who, of the many who might have wanted to kill Esther actually did.

I found the byplay between the two very different sisters particularly amusing. Two more different sisters could not be imagined, but those differences complement each other. I was very much "in the dark" as to who exactly could have killed Esther, and why. Southern Harm is an entertaining and enjoyable read. Thanks to NetGalley and Alibi for an advance copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING-3.5 Stars rounded up to 4