I picked up Alex Bledsoe’s The Sword-Edged Blonde because it had just been released on audiobook and I was looking for something short, different, and fun. The Sword-Edged Blonde was exactly what I needed.
Eddie LaCrosse used to be a rich kid, but a tragic event drove him away from his past life and now he’s a loner. He works as a detective, and he’s really good at it. So, his old best friend, King Phil, hires him to solve a murder. Eddie soon realizes that the mystery is somehow tied up with his own past, so he finds himself confronting his most unpleasant memories as he tries to solve the strange case.
Eddie LaCrosse makes a great hero. He’s a nobleman’s son, so he’s educated and has manners, he worked as a mercenary after he ran away from home, so he’s an accomplished fighter, and now he’s an aging rough-edged noir-style detective who doesn’t take crap from anyone. But as the mystery and his past unfold, we find out that he’s certainly not invulnerable.
The setting of The Sword-Edged Blonde was unusual. The lack of electricity, cars, and guns suggests an early time, but the character names (Janet, Stephanie, Kathy) seem out of place, as do words like “debutante” and model names for swords (The Edgemaster Series 3). This type of quirkiness is fine with me — I needed a break from the usual medieval-style fantasy.
Mr. Bledsoe’s writing style was refreshing and had just the right feel for a noir detective story. It was clear and vivid and the dialogue sounded perfectly realistic — I was impressed with this caliber of writing coming from a new novelist (though, Mr Bledsoe has previously published dozens of short stories).
The plot of The Sword-Edged Blonde was fast and never lagged. Past and present were intermingled effectively. There were a few too many coincidences for my taste (it only mollified me slightly that Eddie acknowledged some of them as coincidences), and there were a couple of times when Eddie should have asked a certain question or done something a bit more logical and less dangerous (but that wouldn’t have been as exciting). The story was compelling enough that I’m forgiving Mr. Bledsoe for these things, but I’m knocking off half a star. : )
I listened to The Sword-Edged Blonde on audiobook. The reader, Stefan Rudnicki was excellent. He has just the right voice for Eddie LaCrosse — strong and rough, yet sensitive at just the right times. I’m certain that he added to my enjoyment of this story. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more Stefan Rudnicki narrations.
I will definitely be picking up the next Eddie LaCrosse novel and I am hopeful that we’ll be hearing a lot more from this author. Alex Bledsoe is a natural storyteller.