Review: Dark Jenny by Alex Bledsoe

Saturday, September 8, 2012
Title: Dark Jenny
Author: Alex Bledsoe
Genre: mystery, fantasy, mythic fiction
Series: Eddie LaCrosse #3
Pages: 348 (paperback edition)
Published: March 2011
Source: TLC Book Tours for review
Rating: 3/5

Freelance sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse is in the wrong place at the wrong time while conducting an undercover investigation on the island kingdom of Grand Bruan. When a poisoned apple kills a member of the queen’s personal guard, Eddie becomes the prime suspect in the murder. He must do some fast talking to keep his head attached to his shoulders. Trying to clear his name and find the real killer, Eddie becomes embroiled in a nasty political scandal. Someone is trying to ruin Queen Jennifer, and they don’t care who they kill along the way.

The more Eddie digs, the more twisted the lies become, until Eddie finds himself caught between two opposing armies. The fate of the entire kingdom lies in his hands.

Murder, betrayal, and magic—just another day on the job for sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse.

Another fun new Eddie LaCrosse novel - one that combines fantasy, mystery and mythic fiction when it and the erstwhile mercenary now-sword jockey take on the tale of King Arthur. Much like how the first two were constructed, Dark Jenny begins with an original setup and then whisks the reader into an alternate but familiar world, this time peopled with renamed versions from one of the world's best loved stories. With a favorite noir character of the femme fatale entering the fray to entertain and lead men - and Eddie himself! - astray, and other assorted fantasy staples (witches! secret religions! magic!), immersing myself into this third novel was as easy as ever. Dark Jenny comes loaded with the same trademark humor and sarcastic sense of irony shown so often in the first two books in this genre-blending series, and it doesn't hurt to have level-headed and skilled investigator Eddie unravel a new mystery in his familiar, intelligent, often bloody, way. 

Without doubt, this is another solid effort from Alex Bledsoe, if one that lacks the unpredictability of the first two in the Eddie LaCrosse series.Whereas I firmly love The Sword-Edged Blonde and (my favorite so far) Burn Me Deadly, I found myself a tad dismayed by how simple and obvious I found the mystery to be here in Dark Jenny. Bledsoe throws in several red herrings, but as someone that loves the King Arthur legend and reads many retellings of the story, I was never diverted or distracted, as was the writer's intention. Anyone overtly familiar with that tale of love, loyalty, honor, and betrayal will see through to the overall antagonist quite easily, despite any and all attempts to occlude the reader. The adaptations and changes to the characters names are simple to spot (Grand Bruan = Great Britain, Marcus Drake = Arthur Pendragon, Belzcrux = Excalibur, Knights of the Double Tarn = Knights of the Round Table, and so on and so forth) and keep the atmosphere redolent of that often-told and well-loved source material. What Dark Jenny lacks in unpredictablity, it makes up for in humor ("I suppose you all wonder why I've asked you all here" make me seriously lol.)

All that isn't to say that Bledsoe doesn't come up with a few twists and surprises all his own - and which helped this stand on its own as clearly the author's own creation/interpretation - but the big reveal at the end... wasn't. For me, at least. This is the first time in three tries that I've figured it all out before Eddie, and I am strangely proud of that fact. Whatever my issues with this latest novel, these have been great, and fun novels and it's a series I eagerly anticipate continuing. Main character Eddie remains the greatest credit to the series - he's likeable despite his checkered past (I especially liked this description of him: [He has] a large sense of fairness, a real taste for violence, and a weakness for lost causes.") and his inner monologue is often wry, humorous, self-deprecating as the occasion calls for it. All in all, he's easy to read, easy to root for, and my affection for him grows steadily more with each subsequent adventure.

I had fun with this but besides my dismay over the obvious nature of the big bad, for the first time I find myself closing an Eddie LaCrosse novel with more questions than the novel started with. This is a bit SPOILERY so stay away if you don't want some of the mystery resolved before you even start. #1. How did Megan escape from whatever jail she was thrown in by the king? #2. How did she subsequently get her hands on Belacrux? #3. Why would she take the sword of the island, and bring it all the way to Eddie, only to have him bring it back to Grand Bruan and put it where it belongs? It just seemed... illogical, though it gave Eddie a great segue to tell his tale of knights, betrayal, double identities and more. A little disappointing, but I still had a lot of fun and was vastly entertained for the whole 348 pages. END SPOILERS.

Dark Jenny is a solid three star book; another fun and interesting novel from a very imaginative author. It, like Burn Me Deadly, works equally well as a sequel or a standalone novel, and while I liked it, it just wasn't as strong or creative as its two predecessors. Fans will enjoy it, but I'd suggest starting the series at the beginning and working your way through to this one. I'm definitely a fan of this author, this series, and most especially of this character - I'm way more than excited to see what's in store in the next mystery-fantasy-adventure with Eddie.

Many thanks to the kind people at TLC who sent me this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Don't forget to come back September 28th for my review of the latest Eddie LaCrosse novel - Wake of the Bloody Angel - a mystery on the sea with pirates! Be sure to check out the tour's other stops as well. 

Wednesday, September 5th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, September 6th:  Proud Book Nerd
Monday, September 10th:  Total Fan Girl
Wednesday, September 12th:  Nerds in Babeland
Monday, September 17th:  Fiction State of Mind
Wednesday, September 19th:  Wag the Fox  – author guest post
Thursday, September 20th:  Books Without Any Pictures
Monday, September 24th:  Just Joanna
Thursday, September 27th:  Book Addict Katie

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