- Title: The Sword-Edged Blonde
- Author: Alex Bledsoe
- Series: Eddie LaCrosse #1
- Genre: Fantasy
- Format: Hardcover
- Source: Library
- Reviewed by: Olga
- Rating: 5 out of 5
Description: It should have been a case like any other: a missing princess, a king willing to pay in gold for her return. But before he realizes it, private investigator Eddie LaCrosse, a slightly shopworn sword jockey with a talent for discretion and detection, is swept up in a web of mystery and deceit involving a brutally murdered royal heir, a queen accused of an unspeakable crime and the tragic past he thought he’d left behind.
Review: Loved this book – quite unexpectedly. The cover art of the hardcover (published by Night Shade Books) is atrocious, one of the worst I’ve ever seen in fantasy fiction. I’d never have picked it up if not for a review of one of my friends on GoodReads. I must add that the cover art of the paperback (published by Tor) is much better.
The story is a blend of an old-fashioned mystery and a swashbuckling sword and sorcery adventure. And the hero is the one to match: a private detective Eddie LaCrosse, gruff, middle aged and slightly overweight, who lives in a vaguely medieval fantasy town. If you transplanted Sam Spade into a fantasy tale – he would be Eddie. Or would he? Like in any good mystery, nothing and nobody is as it seems in this engrossing novel.
As any PI story, it starts with a case: a random princess has gone missing. In the process of his investigation, Eddie is sucked back into his tragic youth, the events so painful he doesn’t want to remember them. But he has no choice. His childhood friend asked for his help, and Eddie must dig deep into his troubled past to find the solution to his pal’s plight.
The story moves very fast, not letting the reader catch his breath. The clues pile up, but Eddie must, however reluctantly, retrace his steps into the years long gone to discover the truth of today.
The novel is tightly focused, written in one consistent POV – Eddie’s. The reader is always aware of the protagonist’s inner thoughts, but sometimes the author intentionally throws a red herring into the reader’s path, concealing some clues and making us guess. That is occasionally irritating. Other than this one little flaw, I can’t complain.
The narrative is solid, the dialog alive, and the descriptions vivid. I can see everything through Eddie’s eyes: the squalor of the cities, the gorgeous mountains, the beautiful women, the dirty urchins. Everything is in the details, as always. For example: our unwilling hero doesn’t like horses, emphatically and loudly. As horses are the main transportation unit in many a fantasy tale, this little quirk must be the first in my fantasy reading. With a pinch of humor tossed into the mix, this largely unknown book has become one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in a while.
I’ll definitely read another book of this author.