Sunday, October 26, 2008

Book Review: The Sword-Edged Blonde

As I lament every once in a while, I have an official to-read list on Good Reads that's over 100 books long, yet every time I head to the library I end up with some random book choices because I neglect to bring said list along. No real complaints, though. I'm always up for exploring new authors. The Sword-Edged Blonde

Especially when one of my recent forays introduced me to Alex Bledsoe's The Sword-Edged Blonde.

Yeah yeah, I read the title and went "huh?" Actually, I'm still not 100% clear about how the title fits the book. But never mind. Then I picked it off the shelf and again went "huh?" in reaction to the really weird cover. Then I flipped it over and read the blurbs, it all sounded promising, "Sam Spade with a sword", okay I'll try it out.

And proceeded to consume it in one day (and night).

Man I *love* it when a book pulls me in like this one did.

The premise is simple: Eddie LaCrosse, a Private Investigator is hired on the qt by his childhood friend (now King of Arentia) to solve the mystery of the Queen who seems to have murdered their child. Eddie comes across as a man who might have once been haunted by his past, but who has now come to terms with it and has moved on... until this call for help, that is. Returning to his homeland, we slowly find out why he'd left Arentia and lost himself in mercenary work so many years ago, and how his past might inadvertently hold clues to the mystery at hand.

In order to not blurt out spoilers, let's just say that there are numerous plots and storylines in past and present, all woven together quite well and narrated with just the right touch of wry wit and simple prose such that everything moved along quite nicely. On one hand it's all one big coincidence, but on the other it still involves a whole lot of detective work, with clues right there if you see them. I would have enjoyed a more in-depth exploration of the challenges faced by a god in human form (not *really* a spoiler, really!), but I suspect I would prefer to be left to speculate on my own than to have everything explained and handed to me on a silver platter.

The setting isn't built up much, which is actually great: details are provided when necessary, so we know it's a typical medieval fantasy world without getting mired in too many descriptions establishing said world. And yet there are some amusing touches that make it unique: I was very amused at the horse getting a parking ticket, for example, and that a barwench would have a nametag.

For a first novel, I found this an excellent piece of work and a fun read; I urge you to check it out for yourself.

I'm looking forward to the sequel Burn Me Deadly, and a 70s vampire novel Blood Groove, both coming out next year.

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