In March of 2008 I wrote of the first Eddie LaCrosse novel, The Sword-Edged Blonde:
"In private investigator Eddie LaCrosse, Bledsoe creates a character who is equal parts witty and charming, rough-and-tumble and roguish. LaCrosse's journey reveals him to be a character of surprising depth in a novel that is short (232 pages) by today's standards. Bledsoe uses each page to his advantage and has crafted a page turner story that had a few "I didn't see that coming" moments as it reached its conclusion."
Alex Bledsoe had merged the genres of sword-and-sorcery and pulp noir so successfully that I was unsure if such an amalgam could ever be topped. To which Mr. Bledsoe has now replied (to the voices in my head, at any rate), "Take that!"
Alex Bledsoe proved in his first novel that he could deftly interweave the kind of literary worlds created by authors like Robert E. Howard and Ian Fleming, infuse it with a witty sense of humor that respects both genres, and in the course of so doing breathe life into these well-worn literary conventions. Then he went out and did it again.
It takes a special skill, in my opinion, to write a sequel that provides readers, new and old, with enough background information to recap the previous story without bogging down the new story. This is one of many areas in which Burn Me Deadly succeeds. Alex Bledsoe drops the reader right into the action in a manner that compels the pages to be turned, and then he proceeds to introduce Eddie LaCrosse, beloved characters met in The Sword-Edged Blonde, and the world itself so skillfully that I never once felt like I was reading a `previously in The Adventures of Eddie LaCrosse...' info dump.
I had not realized just how much I missed Eddie's world until I cracked open the cover of Burn Me Deadly, and then it all came flooding back. The roguish charm and `damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't' heroism of the main character, `the kick-ass-and-ask-questions-later' women, dastardly-and deadly-villains, Eddie's relationship with his horse...there is just so much to love. Yet even as I type these lines I realize that there are some who might read them and think this is exactly the kind of thing they do not like about the sword-and-sorcery or pulp noir genres. I could list dozens of wonderful-and divergent-books, television shows, and films that come to mind when I read Bledsoe's books, and yet it isn't their similarity that makes this such a fun world to lose yourself in. It is the fact that Alex Bledsoe uses the familiar to do something creative and has once again crafted a read that is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. Unlike the criticisms of lack of character depth that can be lodged against these genres, Bledsoe writes characters that you care about, that have meat on their literary bones-characters that give you that twinge of melancholy when that last page is turned because you are just not ready to say goodbye.
It might seem prosaic to describe a book as "fun", but when I say that Burn Me Deadly, like its predecessor, is a really fun read, I mean it with genuine affection and see it as the highest praise. It is a book that will surely appeal to those who have found a home within these genres, but I submit that the book has a much more broad appeal if you will only give it a chance. My wife does not typically read books in the fantasy or noir genres. She is a big fan of mysteries, however. When she saw how much I was enjoying Burn Me Deadly, she quickly picked up The Sword-Edged Blonde and tore through it and then devoured Burn Me Deadly in its wake and she thought they were great.
As is my wont, I will not delve into great detail about the plot. That would spoil the fun. Suffice it to say that Alex Bledsoe has taken all the best from the genres he is paying homage to, has mixed in some religion, some dragons, some humor, romance, adventure and has crafted a book that will leave you thoroughly satisfied with the time spent reading it.
Thank you, Mr. Bledsoe, for more of Eddie LaCrosse, a character who is fast becoming one of my very favorites. I certainly hope to see more of Eddie in the future.