Burn Me Deadly (Eddie LaCrosse Series #2) [NOOK Book]

Overview


Alex Bledsoe’s first novel, The Sword-Edged Blonde, drew rave reviews for its ingenious blend of fantasy and hard-boiled detective fiction. Now Bledsoe returns with an all-new tale of mean streets and medieval intrigue.

Above Angelina’s Tavern in down-and-dirty Neceda you’ll find the office of Eddie LaCrosse, a freelance sword jockey who, for twenty-five gold pieces a day, will take on any task short of murder for hire. Eddie’s...

See more details below
Burn Me Deadly (Eddie LaCrosse Series #2)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$7.99
BN.com price

Overview


Alex Bledsoe’s first novel, The Sword-Edged Blonde, drew rave reviews for its ingenious blend of fantasy and hard-boiled detective fiction. Now Bledsoe returns with an all-new tale of mean streets and medieval intrigue.

Above Angelina’s Tavern in down-and-dirty Neceda you’ll find the office of Eddie LaCrosse, a freelance sword jockey who, for twenty-five gold pieces a day, will take on any task short of murder for hire. Eddie’s on his way back from a routine investigation when his horse almost runs down a half-naked blonde in serious trouble. Against his better judgment, he promises to protect the frightened young woman, only to find himself waylaid by unknown assailants and left for dead beside her mutilated body.

Eddie isn’t the kind of guy to just let something like this pass. But who killed Laura Lesperitt? Eddie’s quest for payback leads him to a tangled mystery involving a notorious crime lord, a backwoods dragon cult, royal scandals, and a duplicitous femme fatale who has trouble keeping her clothes on. As bodies pile up, attracting the unwelcome attention of the king’s guards, Eddie must use all his wits if he hopes to survive . . .

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Proving that 2007's The Sword-Edged Blonde was no fluke, this sequel gives every evidence that Bledsoe's combination of sword and sorcery with hard-boiled detection will have a long and successful run. Eddie LaCrosse, a former noble who gave up his title and now works as a freelance sword-jockey, is flagged down by a damsel in distress, Laura Lesperitt. Before LaCrosse can get Lesperitt to safety, they are ambushed, an encounter that leaves her dead. When he recovers, LaCrosse's search for those responsible for the murder brings him into contact with powerful thug Gordon Marantz, the king's Special Office of Domestic Security and a dragon-worshipping cult. Bledsoe effortlessly draws readers into his created world and manages to stay true to both fantasy and mystery traditions. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
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.
From the Publisher

“Hardboiled high fantasy--what’s not to like? Bledsoe keeps me reading from the first page, and I’m always eager for the next installment when the last page is turned.”--Charles de Lint on Burn Me Deadly

“An entertaining, well-crafted melding of fantasy and hard-boiled detective fiction. . . . 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.”--Kirkus Reviews on Burn Me Deadly

"This hardboiled high fantasy with its clever, twisty plot and smart-alecky protagonist is a worthy literary successor to both Fritz Leiber and Rex Stout.”--Ekaterina Sedia, author of The Alchemy of Stone

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429972475
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 11/10/2009
  • Series: Eddie LaCrosse Series , #2
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 49,785
  • File size: 361 KB

Meet the Author


Alex Bledsoe grew up in west Tennessee. He now lives in Wisconsin.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

The blonde dashed out of the darkness into the moonlight, right in front of me.

My horse, Lola, tried to bolt in surprise. I yanked on the reins and drew her up short. She reared and nearly threw me, but I held on and turned her away so she wouldn’t trample the woman. We spun for a moment like a trick rider in a show, kicking up dust on the dry, deserted road. Then she found her footing; I pulled the reins tight and managed to regain control.

The cloud raised by our near accident momentarily obscured the woman. As it dissipated, I got a good look at her. She was young, with leaves and twigs tangled in her hair. She wore only an oversize man’s jacket that hung past her hands and thighs. Scratches laced her slender legs and dirty, bloody feet. She stood with her eyes closed, face screwed up and arms covering her head as she anticipated the impact.

My voice was higher than normal when I demanded, “What the hell, lady? You could’ve killed us both!”

She opened her eyes and stared at my horse for a long, silent moment. Unscrunched, her moonlit features were very attrac­tive. “Wow,” she said softly, “that was close.”

“No kidding,” I snapped, still battling Lola’s skittishness. The mare tossed her head and snorted, not convinced that all the danger had passed. If only I’d been as smart.

The woman’s dirty face showed marks of recent tears. She grabbed Lola’s bridle and said, “Please, sir, I have to get away from here.” She looked over her shoulder toward the dark woods from which she’d emerged. “I’m in terrible danger.”

“Uh-huh,” I said dubiously. I followed her gaze and saw nothing, but unsnapped the catch on my scabbard just in case. Muscodia was still a pretty uncivilized country, and this road ran for miles through the dense, sparsely inhabited woods be­tween Neceda and Tallega. At this time of night a lot of nefarious things could happen with no one the wiser, and I was too old and too experienced to fall for the  frightened-damsel-as-bait bit. “How about you tell me what you’re doing out  here undressed like that?”

She met my skepticism with a well-practiced imitation of a hurt kitten: she dropped her chin, raised her eyes and pulled her mouth into a tiny pout. I think her lower lip even trembled. “I’m in danger, sir. Please, I’ll explain everything later, but right now, I must get away from  here.” She turned her head and moonlight fell on the marks of big fingers around her neck. “Please. Look at me.”

“Your husband get mad at you?”

“I don’t have a husband. The men who did this did other things as well, but those things . . . don’t show.”

I scowled. I’d made an overnight run to a big manor house outside Tallega, delivering a sealed parchment and a bag of gold to some woman on behalf of a compromised nobleman. She’d taken the money, laughed at the note and slammed the door in my face. Her footmen made it abundantly clear I shouldn’t wait for a reply. Now it was after midnight, and what I most wanted was to be home with Liz, in our nice soft bed with her nice soft body pressed against me. Also, every instinct screamed that this damsel was trouble the same way a hurricane was rain.

Still, I couldn’t just leave her half-naked on a deserted road in the middle of the night. “All right, climb on,” I said wearily. “I can take you into Neceda.” Lola snorted with disapproval as I scooted back to make room for the girl on the saddle in front of me. She felt skinny and weak as she settled back, both her legs dangling off the left side, and clutched the saddle horn. I nudged the horse with my heels and we trotted off down the road.

The night was clear, and we stood out plainly on the road whenever the moon shone through the trees. I suppressed the urge to keep glancing behind us, or to spur Lola to a gallop. More than likely whoever had injured the girl was passed out drunk somewhere; if not, then I doubted they’d push for a confrontation. The kind of men who beat up women seldom had the stomach for a fair fight.

I said into my new companion’s ear, “Okay, so what’s going on? Who are you?”

“My name is Laura,” she replied. “Laura Lesperitt. And you?”

“Eddie LaCrosse.”

“Ah.” She turned and looked back over her shoulder at me. The helpless maiden look had been replaced by something far more calculating. “From one of the minor noble families in Arentia, then. If it’s the same LaCrosses.”

She was right, but I saw no need to discuss it; I’d burned those drawbridges years ago. “You know a lot.”

She nodded modestly. “A little about a lot.”

When she offered no further information, I prompted, “And someone strangled you because . . . ?”

“Because I wouldn’t tell them what they wanted to know.”

“And what’s that?”

Again she turned and looked up at me. The moon cast dark shadows that hid her eyes. Her smile was weak and sad. “Oh, Mr. LaCrosse, you think you can help me, don’t you? You think you can ride up and save me, like a knight in a children’s story. But these are bad, bad people. And if I tell you what they wanted to know, they might do the same thing to you to find it out.”

“They might try,” I said.

My confidence made no impression. She turned away, looked out at the passing trees and pushed the jacket sleeves up past her elbows. A livid, fresh injury that looked like the touch of a heated iron marred the insides of both arms down to her palms. The pain must’ve been awful. Her wrists were also rubbed raw and bloody from struggling against ropes or manacles. “They carried me to a small house in the woods three days ago. They took my clothes and kept me in chains. But I had to get away before they made me tell, so I picked the lock when they weren’t around and fled. I stole this”—she indicated the  jacket—“from a farm house where everyone was sleeping.”

“Why didn’t you ask the farmer for help?”

Again the sad, wan smile. “They had children. I didn’t want their blood on my head if I was caught again.”

“But you don’t mind mine.”

She shrugged. “I’d prefer not. But I could live with it better.”

“And so you’re not going to tell me what this is about?”

She shook her head.

I took a deep breath, feeling like an idiot in advance for what I was about to say. “Look, I’m not some farmer. I’m a freelance sword jockey with an awful lot of hilt time behind me; maybe I can help.”

Again her eyes rose to meet mine with slow, dramatic amuse­ment. “A ‘freelance sword jockey,’ ” she repeated. “So what does that entail? Saving damsels in distress for a fee?”

“Ideally, yeah. But since I’m my own boss, sometimes it’s just because I feel like it.”

“And you feel like saving me,” she said. It  wasn’t a question.

“I don’t know about ‘saving’ you, but I am offering to keep people from beating on you any more tonight. What you tell me after that is up to you.”

Something changed in her face, and for a moment she looked ancient, with despair deeper than any I’d ever seen. And I’d seen a lot of despair. “The only way you can help me tonight,” she said with slow, deliberate words, “is to get me to Neceda alive. Nothing else will truly help me.”

We rode in silence for a bit.The trees began to thin out, and just ahead awaited the edge of the forest. Past it the road de­scended and snaked across miles of open prairie, as vivid in the moonlight as it might be on an overcast day. Scattered across the plain were small camps of travelers, a few with fires still lit.

In the far distance glowed the lamps of Neceda, and just beyond that sparkled the Gusay River. The waxing, nearly full moon lit the vista in shades of blue and white.

When she saw the distant town she sat up straight and tightly grasped my arm. “We may make it,” she said softly.

“We’ll make it,” I said with certainty.

I was tense and alert and experienced in just about every sort of attack. So when the blow struck the back of my head, damn near hard enough to knock my beard from my face, I was so sur­prised it took me a moment to realize I was falling from my sad­dle onto the road. I’d heard no one approach, either on foot or horseback. These guys were good.

I landed awkwardly, too stunned to react but not completely unconscious. Sparks danced around the edges of my vision. My body pinned my sword to the ground; the hilt dug painfully into my side. I reached for it, but my limbs would not respond with any speed.

The dust from our pursuers drifted over me. Above the roar of blood and pain in my head, I heard Laura scream.We were too far for any of those camped on the prairie to come to our aid, even if they  were so inclined.

A horse stopped beside me, and someone dismounted almost in my face. Expensive black boots, decorated with a silver dragon design that sparkled in the moonlight, hit the ground. Above them a stern, annoyed voice said, “Shut her the hell up.You can make her scream all you want back at the house, at least until she tells us where it is.” Laura’s screams were suddenly muffled, as if by a gag or a big hand.

“What about this guy?” another voice asked.

“Bring him along, too,” dragon boots said. “We don’t know what she told him. Oh, hell, he’s waking up.”

One of the boots rose out of my field of vision and came down hard on the side of my head.

* * *

I awoke, sort of.

My whole skull was numb. My fingers tingled, and when I tried to wriggle them I found my wrists were bound tightly be­hind my back. I tried to move any other body part, but nothing cooperated.

I lay facedown on a rough wooden floor. A fire lit the room, and I felt its heat from my left. Over its homey smell, I caught the tang of blood and the odor of scorched meat. Or flesh.The air hung with the echo of the sound that had awakened me: a woman’s scream.

“Uh-oh,” a voice said. “I, uh . . . I think she’s dead.”

“You killed her?” another voice demanded. I recognized it as the one associated with the dragon boots.

“No, I didn’t kill her,” the first voice said with professional annoyance. “I do know how to do this, you know. But look how burned she is.”

“From your irons.”

“No,” the torturer insisted. “I didn’t do this. Not on her arms and hands.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I’m a professional. I have a style. See here on her tits? And here? I made these; they’re very specific, they have a pattern and everything. These others are . . . arbitrary.”

“What the hell does that mean?” a third male voice demanded.

“I’m so tired of you and your damn big words, like you’re some kind of wizard or something.”

“It means I didn’t make those other burns,” the torturer sighed.

A moment of silence passed. Again I tried to move, but I was still too foggy. It took every ounce of strength not to fade back into that nice padded darkness.

“No, that’s not what it means,” dragon boots said, his voice cold with fury. “It means she moved them. Sometime between her escape and the time we caught her, she hid them some­where else. That’s how she got burned.”

“Where?” the clueless third man asked.

“How the hell do I know?” dragon boots exploded. He slammed his hand on a table I couldn’t see. Rattling metal told me it held the interrogator’s special tools. “We didn’t know where she hid them in the first place, so how could we know where they are now?”

“The boss won’t be happy,” the third man said.

“Let me worry about him,” dragon boots snapped.

“What about her boyfriend?” the torturer asked, and nudged me in the side with his foot.

Hands grabbed my hair and bent my neck painfully back so they could look at my face. I played dead, which wasn’t hard. “This guy? You saw what he had in his saddlebags. He’s just some dumb-ass in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“I could still find out what he knows,” the torturer said. His eagerness really did scare me.

“He wouldn’t last five minutes in this shape. No, we’ll dump them both. Have to start from scratch. We know she hid them around here somewhere, so we’ll just keep looking the old-fashioned way.”

He released my hair, and my head thumped hard against the floor. That was all it took; I dove back into quiet, peaceful noth­ing.

* * *

When I woke up again, I was bathed in moonlight.

The clear sky above was alive with stars, all twinkling hap­pily at me. I blinked, waited for the dizziness generated by that movement to pass, and then blinked again.

I lay on my back on the ground. I was untied, my arms and legs thrown wide like I wanted to embrace the night. A rock dug painfully into my behind, but I lacked the energy to move away from it. With tremendous concentration I turned my head to the right.

Laura Lesperitt lay beside me. Most of her front teeth, one eye and half an ear were gone. She was naked, and her upper torso was a mass of poker burns, cuts and bruises. I saw what the tor­turer meant: his points of contact were small and precise, but something else had burned the insides of her arms from wrist to elbow. The scabbing told me she’d been alive when most of it happened, but the milky stare of her remaining eye said she was past the agony now. Insects had already collected around the in­juries, and a shadowy canine form slipped through the darkness beyond her: a wolf or coyote, cautiously approaching a free meal.

I tried to rise. I managed a feeble  finger-wiggle.

We lay in a gully or a dry creek bed, where the light only reached us because the moon was straight overhead. The sides of the ravine rose sharply and seemed to my befuddled brain as if they might snap closed over us, trapping us in darkness like those fly-catching plants.

Suddenly a shadow blocked the moon. A shape in the air above me grew larger and made a high, keening sound. I knew some birds of prey hunted at night, and I recalled childhood sto­ries of giant owls that would swoop down and snatch misbehav­ing brats from their beds. I’d never seen a bird large enough to lift a human being, but then again, this night seemed to be all about bad surprises.

Then my brain cleared enough for me to comprehend what I was actually seeing, and I used every last bit of available energy to roll twice, just before my horse, Lola, crashed down onto the spot I’d occupied. Her equine screech of terror ended with the sharp, wet sound of impact. Big globs of something splattered over me.

Three men stood silhouetted in the moonlight on the edge of the cliff. Dust glittered in the air from where they’d driven Lola over the edge. I lay very still; did they realize she had missed me?

I heard their murmurs without catching any words. Then they turned and walked away, apparently convinced I was as dead as my horse, and the girl. Boy, were they in for a surprise, I thought grimly. Especially that bastard with the dragon boots. All I needed was time to catch my breath.

Then I coughed, tasted blood and got a fresh jolt of agony from my side. I realized the girl and I had also been tossed off that cliff. I tried to rise, knowing if I stayed put I’d be dead by morning. But just breathing exhausted me, and before I knew it the night wrapped me up and again took away the pain. If this was death, I wouldn’t protest.

Excerpted from Burn Me Deadly by Alex Bledsoe.
Copyright © 2009 by Alex Bledsoe.
Published in November 2009 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Good

    A good book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2012

    What

    How can u people read this. I cant even read it and i love to read. Now thats bad. I cant even find a book i want to read any more. Why cant i find a book i want to read. Give me somebooks to read

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not Your Typical Fantasy

    Although I have a soft spot for Wisconsin authors, I am especially fond of ones that take genres where they were not originally meant to go. Alex does just that (again) with the second Eddie Lacrosse book. Although set in a fictional sword-wielding land (with strongly Wisconsin names), the style of the story and most of the characters personalities are drawn from detective noir.

    When you finally see a traditional fantasy trope used, you are so involved in the noir feel for it that you have the sense of disbelief that those things exist in this world, which offers the pop that you would not get from a traditional fantasy setting.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The second La Crosse medieval sword and sorcery Noir (see THE SWORD-EDGED BLONDE) pays obvious homage to Mickey Spillan

    In sleazy downtrodden Neceda, self-employed private investigator with a sharp sword Eddie LaCrosse will do anything except murder for twenty-five pieces of gold. After finishing an inquiry for a paying customer, Eddie is riding back on his horse Lola to his seedy office over slimy Angelina's Tavern.

    However, this trek home is a bit different when he almost runs over a severely injured almost nude blonde. His head tells him to keep going as no good deed goes unpunished; but his lower head wins the debate. Eddie stops to help Laura Lesperitt, but soon is waylaid by some vicious thugs who torture him and Laura before knocking him out. When he regains consciousness, the outraged master swordsman sees in the moonlight the dead battered Laura lying near him. He is taken to the moon goddess hospital where his girlfriend freelance courier Liz Dumont tells him he is a mess who lost a week. Eddie owes three torturers payback even if that means as he learns dealing with a dragon cult tied to criminal gangs and the house of King Archibald; Liz is at his side helping him stand up though he knows he must tell her the secret about her twin sister that stands between them; alas that is for another time.

    The second La Crosse medieval sword and sorcery Noir (see THE SWORD-EDGED BLONDE) pays obvious homage to Mickey Spillane with terrific action from the onset when the hero breaks his basic rule of non-involvement (except for a fee) and gives Laura a lift. Once he regains consciousness in spite of aching ribs and other bruises, Eddie knows three men deserve his pin point sword. Fans will enjoy this entertaining thriller as the hero finds vengeance Spillane style as Eddie (like Hammer) learns blondes can prove deadly.

    Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)