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The Sword-Edged Blonde
Alex Bledsoe
narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
Blackstone Audio, 8.5 hours

The Sword-Edged Blonde
Alex Bledsoe
Alex Bledsoe grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland. He's been a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. He now lives between two big lakes in Wisconsin. The Sword-Edged Blonde is his first novel.

Alex Bledsoe Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Susan Dunman

In his debut novel, Alex Bledsoe offers a creative mashup of the heroic fantasy and hard-boiled detective novel. Eddie LaCrosse is a no-nonsense Private Investigator who, for the right amount of gold coin, will use his considerable skill at sword-wielding and sleuthing to find out what you need to know in any kingdom of the realm. With an office located over Angelina's Tavern in the backwater town of Neceda, Eddie waits for new business. He's just landed an assignment from a worried King to locate a missing princess, but while working the case, he is inexplicably saved from a nasty situation by a total stranger.

This encounter gives Eddie a new mystery to solve, as the stranger insists his presence is required by Eddie's childhood friend, who is now a king. King Phil is depending on Eddie to solve a horrific crime supposedly committed by the woman Phil adores, his beautiful queen. When Eddie meets the queen, he knows that solving this crime will force him to confront personal demons he's been running away from most of his life.

Combining genres is nothing new, but doing it well is a real challenge. Fortunately, the author knows what works in both genres and he takes some of the best elements from both to blend a world that seems modern and magical at the same time. One moment you're along with Eddie as he negotiates secret passages in a majestic castle and the next, trying to infiltrate a Mafia-like crime syndicate. The result is an adventure than contains generous doses of humor, romance, and mystery wrapped in a time warp that is sure to entertain.

Narrator Stefan Rudnicki is an excellent choice for the low-key, world-weary Eddie, who tells his own story. Rudnicki has a low, resonate voice that can depict emotions even while maintaining a dead-pan "just the facts ma'am" delivery style reminiscent of countless P.I. dramas. Of course, it helps that the author gives him some great material to work with.

In addition to the usual challenges faced by a clever detective, Eddie's investigation involves a goddess with amnesia, a children's nursery rhyme that may actually be an ancient curse and a sociopathic bad guy that makes even the unflappable Eddie cringe with revulsion. Oh, and don't forget Eddie's fear of horses, which can be a real hindrance as that is one of the main modes of transportation.

This performance is a wonderful example of how narrator and author can compliment one another so that the work brings an added dimension to the story. Before the last sentence floated through the air, I was wishing there was a sequel. I'm glad to learn that the next title, Burn Me Deadly, is scheduled for release in November, 2009. I'm looking forward to hearing more of Eddie LaCrosse as he slashes and sleuths his way through another mystery.

Copyright © 2009 Susan Dunman

Susan became a librarian many light years ago and has been reviewing books ever since. Audiobooks and graphic novels have expanded her quest to find the best science fiction in Libraryland.

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