by Alex Bledsoe
320 pages, Tor
Review by Melissa Conway
Eddie LaCrosse, everybody’s favorite private-eye slash sword-jockey (okay, sure, he’s the only private-eye slash sword-jockey), is back, and he’s had another run-in with a blonde. Literally—he ran into her on his horse while traversing a lonely road in the middle of the night. This particular damsel-in-distress has just escaped from some nasty characters who tried to torture a deadly secret out of her, and now Eddie’s unintentionally gotten himself entangled in another mystery.
Burn Me Deadly is the second installment in author Alex Bledsoe’s Eddie LaCrosse series, and this reader was pleased to find that it held its own against Bledsoe’s excellent debut, The Sword-edged Blonde (my review here).
I’m going to toss a bit of a spoiler out here, so stop reading now if you plan on picking up a copy (you should!) (pick up a copy, that is) and don’t want even the smallest clue how it ends. I just wanted to say how happy I was that Eddie’s love interest, the sexy red-headed Cathy—no slouch with a sword herself—doesn’t die. She gets herself into some gnarly trouble that involves major hate-and-discontent visited upon her body by the above nasty characters, but she lives. The reason I’m so tickled about this is because I HATE becoming immersed in a story and falling in love along with the characters (Bledsoe has rounded Eddie out nicely with a bit of a soft side), and then reading the next installment where our hero’s love interest has been bumped off because the plot demands it.
I’ve hurled books across the room for less, and you can bet I won’t seek out the next in the series. Who wants to read the next two or three books, suffering along with the (let’s say it’s a heroine) as she bemoans the loss of her one true love for page after page (while glumly solving the mystery of who dunnit)? —then we start all over again in the sixth or seventh book, as our heroine falls for some other schmuck that I don’t like as much as the first guy? No. It’s a tired plot device and I’m glad it wasn’t Cathy’s fate. Eddie is tormented by plenty of garbage from his past and doesn’t need to get any deeper as a character. Let their love get deeper instead.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, Burn Me Deadly’s plot is pretty straightforward. The real fun is Bledsoe’s voice when he injects his almost pun-like sense of humor, and his characters, both the likeable and the loathed. He seeds the storyline with just enough hints that the reader isn’t *quite* sure how it’s going to end; and the ending itself satisfies beyond the rescue of Eddie’s beloved Cathy.
I tried to find fault with the story in order to keep this review from straying into rave territory and wasn’t terribly successful. The worst thing I could think of has little to do with the story itself, really. You see, I’m not terribly fond of the word “sport,” as in “he sported a blue necktie.” I don’t know why. It’s just one of those words that bothers me, and the durned thing appears throughout the narrative pop! pop! pop! enough times for me to have noticed (my pesky inner editor won’t shut up even when I’m reading for pleasure).
In case you hadn’t picked up on it, I’m heartily recommending this new series—I think we just need to give the sub-genre a name, since fantasy/hard-boiled detective fiction is a bit of a mouthful. How about fantasy/private eye or fantasy/pri-eye for short?