Bledsoe follows up The Sword-Edged Blonde (2007) with another genre-blending novel featuring Eddie LaCrosse.
Eddie comes upon an injured woman on the road and offers to give her a ride. It turns out she’s on the run from some very bad men who ambush the pair, kill her and leave Eddie for dead. It’s the same setup as Mickey Spillane’s 1952 noir classic Kiss Me, Deadly, with one major difference: Eddie gives the woman a ride on his horse. He’s no modern PI, but “a freelance sword jockey” in a medieval world that will be familiar to fantasy buffs. His attitude is pure Philip Marlowe (“he was about as subtle as a punch to the nose”), yet the anachronistic language somehow works as Eddie’s action-packed investigation leads him to a mysterious dragon cult with connections to gangsters and royalty. Aficionados of tough-guy mysteries will find much to enjoy, and fantasy fans will appreciate the swordplay and the fully realized medieval society Bledsoe has constructed. Best of all, it’s not necessary to have read the first installment to enjoy this one.
An entertaining, well-crafted melding of fantasy and hard-boiled detective fiction.