Raymond Chandler's incomparable private eye is back, pulled by a seductive young heiress into the most difficult and dangerous case of his career
"It was one of those summer Tuesday afternoons when you begin to wonder if the earth has stopped revolving. The telephone on my desk had the look of something that knows it's being watched. Traffic trickled by in the street below, and there were a few pedestrians, too, men in hats going nowhere."
So begins The Black-Eyed Blonde, a new novel featuring Philip Marlowe—yes, that Philip Marlowe. Channeling Raymond Chandler, Benjamin Black has brought Marlowe back to life for a new adventure on the mean streets of Bay City, California. It is the early 1950s, Marlowe is as restless and lonely as ever, and business is a little slow. Then a new client is shown in: young, beautiful, and expensively dressed, she wants Marlowe to find her former lover, a man named Nico Peterson. Marlowe sets off on his search, but almost immediately discovers that Peterson's disappearance is merely the first in a series of bewildering events. Soon he is tangling with one of Bay City's richest families and developing a singular appreciation for how far they will go to protect their fortune.
Only Benjamin Black, a modern master of the genre, could write a new Philip Marlowe detective novel that has all the panache and charm of the originals while delivering a story that is as sharp and fresh as today's best crime fiction.
Black (the pseudonym that John Banville uses for his crime fiction) isn't the first to tackle the daunting challenge of recreating the distinctive narrative voice of Raymond Chandler's world-weary, mean streets walking L.A. private eye, Philip Marlowe. Despite Robert B. Parker's lengthy experience in the PI genre, his sequel to The Big Sleep, Perchance to Dream, pales in comparison with Black's pitch-perfect recreation of the character and his time and place. As for the language, Black nails Chandler's creative and memorable similes and metaphors. When Marlowe shakes hands with someone, "It was like being given a sleek, cool-skinned animal to hold for a moment or two." The title character, Clare Cavendish, wanders into Marlowe's office to ask him to trace her lover, Nico Peterson, who disappeared two months earlier. The case appears to wrap up quickly after Marlowe learns that Peterson was the victim of a hit-and-run, but Cavendish has some major revelations in store. While the mystery is well plotted, Black elevates it beyond mere thoughtful homage with a plausible injection of emotion in his wounded lead. Author tour.
A very good book but it's not Chandler. Instead of reviving Terry Lennox, I'd still like to know who killed the chauffeur.
Sounds like Marlowe, but not Chandler
Author has Marlowe down pat, but the story is weak. No suspense, or thrills you would find with Chandler. Very disappointing.
Great Read. Should be made into a movie!
Can't wait for the sequel. The author captures the sound and feel of Chandler. Not too heavy handed.