Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Review: "Burn Me Deadly" by Alex Bledsoe

Do you ever have those moments of disconnectedness where you wonder if you're marching out of step with the rest of the crowd? I had that feeling when I clicked on the Amazon link to Burn Me Deadly by Alex Bledsoe and saw that it had a 3 star rating. 3 stars? How is that possible? I know I certainly enjoyed the book more than that.

 But I'm getting ahead of myself. "Burn Me Deadly" is the second book in a new series by Alex Bledsoe that features private investigator Eddie LaCrosse. Bledsoe takes my two favorite genres, fantasy and detective fiction, and mixes them up with highly entertaining results.

 In my review of The Sword Edged Blonde, the first in the Eddie LaCrosse series, I likened the book to a Raymond Chandler novel, but "Burn Me Deadly" is a direct homage to Kiss Me Deadly by Mickey Spillane (the link goes to the description of the movie adaptation of the novel since it was the only full synopsis I could find).

When riding home one night Eddie almost runs down a woman who has been brutally beaten. While trying to get her to safety Eddie is ambushed by her captors; she ends up dead and Eddie barely survives. Seeking to avenge her death, and find out why she was killed, Eddie runs up against the leader of his town's most powerful criminal gang and a strange dragon-worshiping cult.

Already somewhat comfortable with the illegal underground that run through the seedy town he lives in, Eddie crosses paths with power brokers and the royal family as he tries to unravel the mystery behind what could have led to the torture and murder of a young woman. And in his typical style, Eddie cuts a path through anyone in his way; frequently with his sword.

Bledsoe has a really interesting style. It's definitely more noir fiction than fantasy, though the fantasy elements are substantial enough to appeal to fans of that genre. There are no over-bloated character names that are so common in fantasy. Instead you have names like Eddie, Laura and Liz. The dialog is also frequently in the fast-paced style of detective fiction and the action in unflinchingly direct and sometimes brutal.

My favorite description of an Eddie LaCrosse story is to say it's like a James Bond movie in a Midieval setting. But truthfully, Eddie is more like Bond after he's gotten the womanizing out of his system. He's settled but not afraid to take on pretty much anything. And the whole package really works.

Which brings me back to the Amazon rating. I was genuinely surprised when I saw the 3 star rating sitting there, though there are only 4 reviews in so far (and Harriet Klausner doesn't count). And I couldn't help think that the few who have reviewed the book so far didn't get the premise. One reviewer did bring up the violence of the book, and it can be somewhat graphic, but that wasn't an issue for me because I feel like Bledsoe made a stylistic choice and stuck with it. "Burn Me Deadly" is entirely consistent with the world created in "The Sword Edged Blonde" and one of the few books I read last year that I couldn't put down. I liked it so much I put it on my "best of" list for 2009. In my opinion Bledsoe has already solidified himself as a writer that can deliver a wry, action-oriented story that reliably entertains.


Sullivan McPig said...

Well..... I find myself disagreeing a lot with the average amazon reviewer I must say, so I stopped reading the reviews there and stick to the reviews from people that have a taste in books simular to my own.
That's why I'm following this blog :-p
btw: bought Boneshaker after reading your post about it and loved it!

SQT said...

Sullivan-- I agree. I'm finding that books will get raves on Amazon when they're so so and vice versa. I can't figure out if my taste is off or if certain authors are getting every relative in sight to do a review.

Glad to hear you liked Boneshaker. I think that is such a great book.

Kat @ FanLit said...

I didn't read your entire review because I'm reading the book now (I'm in the middle) and didn't want to spoil anything. I'm actually listening to this on audio -- great format for the Bledsoe books because the reader is so excellent. Great series so far.

ediFanoB said...

I'm a big Eddie LaCrosse fan(my review)!!.

To be honest I don't read any Amazon reviews. I prefer to read reviews from blogger whom I trust and who share my taste.

And by the way Boneshaker was my top read in 2009!

Simcha said...

I just ordered The Sword-Edged Blonde after seeing it recommended on so many blogs in just the past month, and I'm really looking forward to reading this series.

Carl V. said...

Definitely one of my best of's as well and I am glad you brought up the Amazon issue. I went over and modified my review somewhat and threw it on there with a 5 rating, one that I definitely feel that the book deserves because it, like the first one, is just so much fun. I found the lower reviews to be petty and not really based on any kind of solid reasoning for the lower rating. The one person in particular who talked about the book being all over the place clearly wasn't reading the same book I was, and it makes me wonder just how much they were paying attention when they were reading. The plot didn't seem disjointed at all. If you haven't done an Amazon review I would encourage you to do one as well.

SQT said...

Carl--I've been meaning to get one up. I'll do it this week for sure.

Ace said...

Thanks for the review.

I really enjoyed Sword Edged Blonde and am looking forward to this new one.