Dark Jenny review

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dark Jenny is Alex Bledsoe's third novel in the Eddie LaCrosse Mysteries series. Since the release of Burn Me Deadly, Alex also wrote two novels featuring vampires from 1975 Memphis. Another LaCrosse novel is supposedly in the work but without a working title/synopsis/release date so far.

While doing a private investigation for a suspicious wife on the island of Grand Bruan, Eddie invites himself to a soiree where the queen is present. When a poisonous murder is committed in plain sight, Eddie and Queen Jennifer herself are accused. Because of his background, Eddie will be forced to solve the mystery while wearing handcuffs. However, in the perfect and seemingly happy kingdom ruled by King Marcus Drake and his Knights of the Double Tarn lies even more mysteries which exposure would mean the end of a grand dream.

I would call Dark Jenny a "variation on a Knight of the round table theme" or "Eddie in a more grounded version of the Arthurian legend". But then, simply by reading the synopsis you could come up with that correlation. Add to the mix Belacrux the mighty sword removed from the stone, an old adviser named Cameron Kern rumored to be a magician and Elliot, a highly skilled knight from another country often accused of having a liaison with the Queen and you'll find yourself completely immersed into the Arthurian legend. Is it too much? I felt so for the time to take a breath but the way the storyline evolves and the presence of Eddie makes it an innovative and very successful pastiche.

The first time I met Eddie, he told a tale where the past was mixed up with the present and the second time he was living an adventure in the present time. In Dark Jenny, we discover more of his past while he is recounting the tale to his fellow citizens of Neceda. Even though some more links between the past and his current situation where a coffin is delivered at Angelina's tavern would have been nice, the story of Dark Jenny can easily stand alone without characters from the previous installments. The first person perspective is used again, which is now simply the only way Eddie's should be narrated. It works so well with this type of protagonist.

What I liked about Eddie in the first two novels (as I mentioned in the reviews) was his skepticism, gruffness, loyalty, altruism, vulnerability, insecurity and kick-ass fighting abilities. Once again, Bledsoe succeeded in keeping him believable and contagiously compelling. He may be surrounded by what seems to be stereotypical clichés to begin with but the author twisted them just enough so the tropes associated to those legendary and familiar characters were eventually thrown out the window. Cameron Kern, the ex-king adviser and his concubine are some funny bastards. And wait till you read about the nose of Knight Agravaine, poor fellow.

Eddie would not be the same without some trauma. At least, this time around his head seems to stay in good condition. So as you can see, once more, humor and LaCrosse witty remarks are present aplenty but still within a serious case of business. Another interesting aspect of the sword jockey stories is the unequivocal doubt about magic we are left with when finishing his novels. Taking the King Arthur myths and making them more realistic while keeping some mysteries shrouded is a nice way of making the reader second guess everything as the main protagonist does.

The plot in Dark Jenny is a mix between obvious conclusions and throwback surprises. If your keen on the whole King Arthur story, you could discover some truth before it is intended too but it wouldn't be so bad since the interest in this novel is more in the way Eddie handles those situations aside from what their outcome may be. Hopefully, since the narrative is well written, I was too absorbed for my mind to wander outside of the book. Alex's writing is still of the same quality. Just the right pace with short concise chapters. With a narrative in the first person, I prefer this kind of straight-forwardness. However the world building always feels a little bit let down since the prose is less descriptive.

I would again heartily recommend Eddie's stories to the fantasy readers looking for a sword and mystery novel where the detective is one hell of a fascinating human being. The world he runs around in Dark Jenny may be borrowed, author Alex Bledsoe made it more colorful and dreadful at the same time. I still would have preferred the use of less worldly names but I think I will have to let it pass when reading his novels.

Technically, the art style chosen for this latest LaCrosse opus is quite a turnaround from the two previous books. The first two covers were like old style fantasy covers and here a realistic creation is used. Looks nice and I like the color blend. No map included (would have been nice as always) and no glossary which was not necessary. The paperback edition stands at 348 pages.

Dark Jenny review score :

Characterization............. 8.5 /10
World building............... 7.5 / 10
Magic system................. N /A
Story.............................. 8 / 10
Writing........................... 8.5 / 10

Overall (not an average) 8 / 10


The Sword edged blonde review

Burn me deadly review
Alex Bledsoe page


Get Best Info for Southeast Alaska Fishing Lodge said...

Dark Jenny is the perfect crossover for both lovers of the classic hardboiled detective novels of Micky Spillain as well as those who love the high adventure styling found within the Arthurian legends.

A great read!!

Jessica Herron said...

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