THE SWORD-EDGED BLONDE by Alex Bledsoe
I have to admit, it took me a second try to get into The Sword-Edged Blonde. I blame me, though. I must have been looking for something different when I first picked it up. Or maybe I was looking for a more sedate or a more pure read. Alex Bledsoe’s first Eddie LaCrosse novel is neither of those. It’s a blistering hell-for-leather romp in a wild-eyed mix of fantasy and film noir. I’ve never read anything like it. Maybe that’s why it took me two attempts. But once I headed into the book for a second go, there was not turning back until I’d finished it, rounded up the usual suspects and figured out the last mystery.
And that’s one thing that I have to acknowledge here: there is a mystery, and it’s there on every page. It even comes complete with clues, suspects, and a past history that’s guaranteed to blow your mind because Bledsoe ties up every last loose end in a way that I defy readers to guess ahead of time. Actually, I guess I’m the second person to do that, because Bledsoe did it first.
I love the simplicity of the fantasy world that Bledsoe has created in the LaCrosse books. We have an old world feel, but everything is rendered in contemporary jargon. Even the names smack of the everyday world we’re in now. A fantasy hero named LaCrosse? He carries swords that he describes like a gun lover would, and handles himself like a private eye of the Chandler and Hammett school of hard knocks detection.
There are a lot of twists and turns in this novel, and you’re not going to see them coming. In fact, some of them streak by like bullets from a .50 caliber sniper rifle and you may find yourself backing up a few pages to catch up again. Good thing novels come with their own DVR so you can go back a few pages. Bledsoe doesn’t fail in any way as a writer, he just keeps things hopping so fast that if you don’t read closely, you’re going to miss stuff. There’s a lot of stuff in this book.
There’s a lot of human compassion in this story as well. There are things that will break your heart, have you rooting for the good guy, and hissing at the villain. This is basic heroic action built around a champion that’s as much an ordinary guy as you’re going to get. Eddie isn’t infallible, and he bleeds when cut. He carries his emotions on his sleeve on the page, even though those people around in him the novel may not know what he’s feeling.
I love the breadth and scope of Bledsoe’s world, and I’m looking forward to more. I’ve already ordered the next three books.