“I remembered the way her hair smelled as she wrenched my fingers back into place.”
While drinking a beer with his girlfriend on a snowy day in Angelina’s Tavern, middle-aged sword-jockey Eddie LaCrosse gets a strange delivery: a coffin. This unusual event sparks some interest in Angelina’s lethargic patrons, and soon they’re all gathered around while Eddie regales them with the story of how he came to be the recipient of such an odd gift and, more importantly, who’s in it.
If you haven’t read one of Alex Bledsoe’s Eddie LaCrosse Mysteries yet, go ahead and try this one — you don’t need to have read The Sword-Edged Blonde or Burn Me Deadly to enjoy Dark Jenny (though I should say that I liked the plots of the first two novels better). Dark Jenny can stand alone because the story Eddie tells happened before the events in The Sword-Edged Blonde. This is a Bledsoe-style version of the King Arthur legend. What is “Bledsoe-style”, you wonder? His fans know what I’m talking about, but since Dark Jenny is a fine place for newbies to start, let me prepare you:
Eddie’s world is completely fictional and, technologically, it’s medieval — they ride horses and carry swords. However, the names are jarringly modern and, in this novel, groan-worthy (Marcus Drake = Arthur Pendragon, Jennifer = Guinevere, Elliot Spears = Lancelot). The language is modern (“yeah”, “whatever”) and (this is the really weird part) there are allusions to our modern culture. So, for example, Eddie uses terms like “shock and awe” and, when he’s about to explain the solution to the mystery to all the suspects at the end of Dark Jenny, he says “I suppose you wonder why I’ve asked you all here.” Some of these will make your eyes roll, but others are rather amusing. My favorite one in Dark Jenny is when Eddie is traveling to Cameron Kern’s (= Merlin) house and he keeps seeing barns with “See the Crystal Cave” painted on the roof. (For those of you who’ve never driven through Tennessee, where Alex Bledsoe lives, do a Google Image search for “See Rock City”.)
The strengths of the Eddie LaCrosse Mysteries are Bledsoe’s excellent pacing and story-telling abilities and the character of Eddie. Eddie is an awesome hero. He’s tall, strong, and brave, yet he’s smart, mature, and sensitive. He can be brutal, and sometimes he goes too far — even to the point of killing someone with his bare hands — but his brutality is evoked by wickedness in others. He’s most likely to snap when he witnesses someone being cruel to a weaker person. It’s impossible not to like Eddie LaCrosse.
Dark Jenny is available in print from Tor and on audio from Blackstone Audio. Even though Tor sent me a copy of Dark Jenny weeks before its release and I was anxious to read it, I waited for the audio version because I love to hear Stefan Rudnicki read the Eddie LaCrosse Mysteries (which are written in the first person voice). Stefan Rudnicki is Eddie LaCrosse for me!