Burn Me Deadly review

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Burn Me Deadly is the second Eddie LaCrosse novel by Alex Bledsoe. It's not a direct follow-up (few tie-ins between the two books) but another great detective adventure for the harsh sword jockey. I reviewed The Sword-Edged Blonde not long ago and although I was not as much awed by the second opus of Eddie's tales, I still sincerely enjoyed the read.

Eddie's at it again. He stumbles upon a naked woman running from the woods. What can a guy do with a damsel in distress? He tries to help her and get knocked down again. Being left for dead after watching the woman being tortured, he will start an investigation with a simple goal in mind, get revenge. Eddie will discover a new dragon cult in league with the local mob boss and will have to go undercover in his own town to get the information needed for unmasking his hidden prey. Unfortunately, this will endanger the people he cares about.

The second case handled by Eddie has fewer connections with his past, I could even say none. That was a bummer for me at first since I loved the style and pace that the flashbacks gave to the first book. Anyway, considering we already know a lot more about the sword-jockey, I can understand that the author would want to get on with the past and focus on the present.

Eddie's star shines once more. Again, the narrative is fully his own and he delivers. The guy is genuine, every one of his actions, his skepticism, gruffness, loyalty and altruism felt right. With a character this much believable, one can only care about his hardship and preoccupations. He will unluckily get into a lot of trouble but that's the way I like to find him. Bledsoe made it so that he gets out of it without some miraculous divine intervention or unexplained magic tricks. The witty remarks and funny moments are plentiful as when Liz is treating his wounds :

"[...] someone screamed outside in the street. A fairly common thing in Neceda. "See", I said through clenched teeth. "It hurts so bad, it makes total strangers howling."

A couple of the secondary protagonists from the previous book are developed further (mostly so in Liz and Angelina's case) and a whole new cast is introduced. The new bad guys don't have much more motivation than their personal gain in associating with the dragon cult but at least they will make Eddie's life more complicated for a reason. And they don't explain all their motives before dying.

The investigation is more straightforward. Don't get me wrong, there's a couple of twist and more than enough guessing. As I said, I cared about Eddie's quest, so when something happens to one of his friends because he's getting involved, it gets more engaging. Add to this mix some hidden royals and an ambitious young captain full of himself interrelated in the case and you get a sufficiently elaborated plot. Bledsoe's skill in writing this tale is sharp and concise.

On the less positive side, there's still the naming problematic but in a reduced quantity and maybe a bit of a letdown in worldbuilding. We don't get to see much more than Eddie's adopted town and the surrounding countryside. I know that it's not the only aspect of worldbuilding but I think it made the world seems a bit too small. I mentioned in my review of the first book that this element was well handled in the way Eddie narrated the tale and to a certain extent, it can't always make miracles. However, the small touch of fantasy elements (that I can't spoil) adds a mystical aspect to the setting.

For the newcomer, I would recommend to start with The Sword-Edged Blonde even though it's not absolutely obligatory. My hopes are still high for Dark Jenny (working title), coming up.... sometime :) By the way, there will be at least a fourth book as Mr. Bledsoe wrote a post on his blog about a "tuckerization" (it's the name for using a person's name in an original story) for the generous givers to a charity (here).

Technically, there's improvement over the covers of the first book. Fits well for an Eddie LaCrosse novel. The narration of the audiobook is again performed by Stefan Rudnicki and he does a great job. The hardcover edition of the novel is 320 pages. Still no map (wouldn't have been useful anyway in this case...).

Burn Me Deadly audiobook review score :

Characterization............. 8 /10
World building............... 8 / 10
Magic system................. N /A
Story.............................. 7.5 / 10
Writing........................... 8 / 10

Overall (not an average) 8 / 10


Alex Bledsoe page


Simcha said...

I started listening to this audio book but it just didn't really engage me. About a quarter way in I just gave up and moved on to something else. I still think I might want to try the book though. Perhaps it was just going too slowly for me in audio format.

Looney said...

I think his books are fun, fast and not-too-serious (like a lot of fantasy can be). It would be a little too light for audio, I think.

Also, I thoroughly enjoyed Blood Groove and can't wait for the second book to come out.

Phil said...

Hum... I didn't have problem with the audiobook. Simcha, I seem to recall you did not like the first one that much either?

@Looney, I know Blood Grove is about vampires, but is it as fun and not-too-serious?

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