April 25th, 2012

self detonation

Kiss Me Sleeping Beauty. (45)

Burn Me Deadly by Alex Bledsoe.

Horde of gold & jewels,
O Smaug the Magnificent!
To bribe crooked cops.

Another Eddie LaCrosse book, & I think I might pick up the next one in the series now, too. These are just fun & smart; just good pulpy fun. The premise still stands pat as the central conceit: Eddie LaCrosse is a streetsmart gumshoe in a fantasy world. He's a flatfoot with a sword, Phillip Marlowe in chainmail. One of the charms of this second volume is that once again Bledsoe manages to get you to doubt the tropes & assumptions of the genre; by playing the skeptical detective to the hilt, the fantasy conventions are called into question. Is there really magic, or just a bunch of unscrupulous charlatans taking a bunch of rubes in with sleight of hand & placebos? In the case of this book, the eponymous "burns" refer to them big old worms we call dragons. Sure that cultist has a dragon skull, but is that just a dinosaur fossil or something? Or like a crocodile skull? Could be, Eddie! I'm charmed by the dragons in the mythological record; Glaurung & Scatha both have a Tolkien pedigree, & Vermithrax? From Dragonslayer? Really? I'm surprised Chrysophylax Dives from Farmer Giles of Ham wasn't one of them. Alex Bledsoe is a smart writer who isn't winging it; his novel is coherent from start to finish, & the clues in the front half make sense when viewed through the prism of the reveal-- excluding red herrings, but he doesn't leave stray seafood lying around either; he'll shut down a misdirect before it goes too far. & thankfully, Eddie LaCrosse isn't a moron; when you the reader figure something out, it is a smart bet that our hero has puzzled it out as well; the hamfisted dramatic irony that could plague this sort of book is absent. These are honestly what they say on the tin: both a gritty fantasy novel setting & a film noir private eye protagonist.