Dark Jenny (Eddie LaCrosse Mystery Series, Book 3)
by Alex Bledsoe
Release Date: March 29, 2011
2011 Tor Books
Softcover Edition; 348 Pages
Genre: Fantasy / Mystery
Source: Review Copy from Tor Books
3.5 / 5 Stars
Freelance Sword Jockey Eddie LaCrosse is in the wrong place at the wrong time while conducting a undercover investigation on the island kingdom of Grand Bruan. When a poisoned apple kills a member of the Queens personal guard, Eddie becomes the prime suspect in the murder. He must do 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 on the way.
Dark Jenny is the third novel in the Eddie LaCrosse series and while I really enjoyed the first two books tremendously, I really felt like this one, while still entertaining and carrying Mr. Bledsoe's unique blend of wit and irony, did not quite meet the expectations of the first two in the series.
In Dark Jenny, Eddie tells his story in a series of flashback episodes and while this has never bothered me in the slightest, I know other readers are often put off by this type of writing. While on a mission to chase a a husband accused of infidelity, Eddie finds himself in the middle of a completely different investigation when he intercedes on behalf of a knight poisoned by an apple. Soon the tables are turned on Eddie, and in order to clear his name, he is asked to undertake the investigation to clear Queen Jennifer's name; little does he know he will have to negotiate the palace intrigues and secrets in order to stay alive.
In an interesting take on King Arthur, we are introduced to a variety of rather intriguing and noble characters, all of whom are hiding secrets and deeds from the past. With the inclusion of several interesting twists, I found the mystery pretty easy to figure out, and this was one of the things I found predictable about this novel. In my younger years, I went through a definite King Arthur phase and read pretty much anything which I could my hands on, and I think this actually deterred from my reading pleasure in this novel as I could figure out what was going to happen rather easily. For those who are not as familiar with the King Arthur legends, you may find the mystery rather more intriguing than I did.
Eddie is still one of my favourite characters though, as I love his dry wit and ironic humour. I also enjoy that he has a dark and twisted past and it makes him seem far more human than, say King Marcus. All of that so-called perfection can be trying after a while. One of the themes in this novel is that nothing lasts forever, and that is what I think Mr. Bledsoe was trying to get across to his readers. Peace and perfection are wonderful, but is utopia actually achievable? And so many legends about this perfect place grew around it, but were they actually true? King Marcus developed this 'perfect' place in Grand Bruan where people lived in people for 20 years, but could it last? And when something is built on secrets and deception and blood, there is always a reckoning. There is a telling quote in this novel that really stuck with me. Angie, one of the characters, says, "Ever since I heard about it, I always wanted to go to a place like Grand Bruan. I wanted to live under that kind of ruler, in that kind of kingdom. I wanted to believe there was place where power was used for good to keep the weak safe...Thanks for setting the record straight for me, Eddie." (p342) It's makes me think of the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence.
Dark Jenny is an interesting twist on the King Arthur legends, and we know pretty much from the beginning what the outcome will be, just not the twists and turns the route will take us to the outcome. Because of this twist on King Arthur, I did find the mystery somewhat predictable and easy to decipher, which left some of the suspense out of the novel for me. This novel was still entertaining and fun, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in medieval fantasy, and I am looking forward to the further adventures of Eddie LaCrosse.