Title: A Longer Fall
Series: Gunnie Rose, #2
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Saga Press
Publication date: January 14, 2020
Length: 291 pages
Genre: Fantasy / speculative fiction
#1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris returns with the second of the Gunnie Rose series, in which Lizbeth is hired onto a new crew, transporting a crate into Dixie, the self-exiled southeast territory of the former United States. What the crate contains is something so powerful, that forces from across three territories want to possess it.
In this second thrilling installment of the Gunnie Rose series, Lizbeth Rose is hired onto a new crew for a seemingly easy protection job, transporting a crate into Dixie, just about the last part of the former United States of America she wants to visit. But what seemed like a straight-forward job turns into a massacre as the crate is stolen. Up against a wall in Dixie, where social norms have stepped back into the last century, Lizbeth has to go undercover with an old friend to retrieve the crate as what’s inside can spark a rebellion, if she can get it back in time.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse mysteries and Midnight, Texas trilogy) is at her best here, building the world of this alternate history of the United States, where magic is an acknowledged but despised power.
In the Gunnie Rose books, author Charlaine Harris has created an alternate version of the United States… in which the United States no longer exists. In this world, FDR was assassinated prior to being inaugurated as President, and in the aftermath, the US has split into separate countries. Main character Lizbeth Rose lives in Texoma, more or less where our current Texas is, and the US South is now the country of Dixie, where racism, sexism, and xenophobia are the norms — a place where Lizbeth has no interest in going, until she’s hired on for a job that will take her there.
Lizbeth is a “gunnie”, a gifted shooter whose sharp reflexes and dead-eye aim make her a valued member of any gun crew, typically hired for escort and protection work. After her last crew ended up dead (see book one in the series, An Easy Death), she’s found work with a new set of gunnies, and takes an eastbound train to bring cargo into Dixie.
Nothing goes as planned, naturally. The train rail is sabotaged, the gun crew is attacked, and the cargo is stolen. Lizbeth finds herself stranded in Dixie, until her former colleague and lover Eli shows up, also in pursuit of the same cargo. Eli is a “grigori” — a wizard of the Holy Russian Empire (formerly California and Oregon), a land ruled by the Tsar and protected by the highly skilled magicians who support him. Eli’s arrival shows that Lizbeth’s cargo is much more precious than she realized, and the two of them must work together to retrieve it, get it to its intended destination, and hopefully make it out of Dixie with their lives.
Once again, I truly enjoyed the world-building. Lizbeth herself is a Western-style gunslinger, but here, she’s thrust into a world that expects her to wear a dress and hose, defer to men, and be altogether proper and ladylike. The contrast is delicious, and it’s such fun to see Lizbeth’s discomfort and rebellion at these ridiculous sexist restrictions.
Meanwhile, Lizbeth and Eli have terrific chemistry, and it’s a delight to see them back together. Their work and their families destine them to have very different lives, but for the space of this adventure, they’re reunited and fully cognizant of the love and passion they share. They also make for great partners, having each other’s backs and getting one another out of impossibly dangerous situations.
Dixie is full of despicable racists, and the overall mission and the missing cargo relate to an attempt to kick off a rebellion and put an end to oppression. The cargo itself is a total MacGuffin — it’s a bit nonsensical, but as a plot catalyst, it keeps the action going full steam ahead and makes for some exciting sequences. Not all the events make a ton of sense, but there is a certain satisfaction in seeing awful characters get exactly what they deserve.
The 20th century setting (mid to late 1930s, it would seem) can be a bit jarring. The story often feels like an old-timey Western, and something about the description of Dixie made me expect the women to be wearing huge dresses a la Scarlett O’Hara — I had to remind myself from time to time that these people live in an era of cars, indoor plumbing, electricity, and refrigerators. The contrasts make this series extra fun, like seeing our own history, but in a funhouse mirror.
I love Lizbeth as a character, and I love seeing new aspects of her personality and intelligence as the story progresses. I can’t wait to see where the story goes next! There are currently four published works in the series, with a fifth scheduled for release in fall of 2023. I’m definitely planning to continue, and hope to start #3 just as soon as the library’s copy becomes available.
6 thoughts on “Book Review: A Longer Fall (Gunnie Rose, #2) by Charlaine Harris”
I really like this series. Hope you get to read the next one quickly
Thanks! I can’t wait to keep going!
I need to catch up with book #4, in preparation for the 5th book. This is such a fun series, although the first book is still my favorite.
Really fun books, and I love Lizbeth and Eli’s chemistry!
I loved An Easy Death…Lizbeth is such an interesting character. And the setting Harris has created is very fun. I’m very happy to hear that Eli is back in this one. I like him and Lizbeth together. Great review! I can’t wait to check this one out. 😀
It’s so good! I agree, the world is so interesting and fun!