In this gripping and deeply evocative crime novel, Benjamin Black returns us to the dark, mesmerising world of Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye and his singular detective Philip Marlowe; one of the most iconic and enduringly popular detectives in crime fiction.
Maybe it was time I forgot about Nico Peterson, and his sister, and the Cahuilla Club, and Clare Cavendish. Clare? The rest would be easy to put out of my mind, but not the black-eyed blonde....
It is the early 1950s. In Los Angeles, Private Detective Philip Marlowe is as restless and lonely as ever, and business is a little slow. Then a new client arrives: young, beautiful, and expensively dressed, Clare Cavendish wants Marlowe to find her former lover, a man named Nico Peterson. Soon Marlowe will find himself not only under the spell of the Black-Eyed Blonde; but tangling with one of Bay City's richest families - and developing a singular appreciation for how far they will go to protect their fortune....
"When I heard that Benjamin Black, aka the Man Booker-winner John Banville, had taken on the job, I felt the Chandler estate had plumped for the right man. Like Chandler, Banville sweats over his sentences. And although the avowed model for Banville/Black’s crime fiction is Simenon, there is a great deal of Marlowe in his lonely, quixotic protagonist Quirke ... The plot is dead right ... The voice is spot on too" (Daily Telegraph)
“If anything, oddly, the book is probably better than an actual Chandler: more coherent, and more consistent, more careful. Banville is simply a more elegant writer. Chandler was a metaphorical rogue trader; Banville is a class act... This is perfect Mr Banville” (New Statesman)
"The Black Eyed Blonde represents a literary brand-name wrapped in a pseudonym inside a Man Booker prize winner . . . The Irish understudy takes on Chandler's habits convincingly . . . What Banville brings to Chandler is perhaps an enhanced literary sensibility. His Marlowe is alert to the nuances of language . . . Banville was once cast as the epitome of serious, prize-winning literary fiction, but the subsequent decade seems to have unleashed a pleasure in plot and playfulness that wasn't evident before . . . Banville and his crime-writing pseudonym have played the game [of a new book by a dead writer] as well as anyone could" (Mark Lawson, Guardian)
"Benjamin Black reveals a knack for chanelling the grand master of noir . . . Black ticks all the boxes - a man with a gun in his hand comes through the door more than once - and the set-pieces are magnificent . . . As for Marlowe himself . . . he was, and is, the reason why even sham-Chandler should be read . . . He makes you wince and laugh out loud . . . More please" (Mark Sanderson, Evening Standard)
"Banville lets us know from the very start of The Black-Eyed Blonde that we are in the safest of hands here . . . Banville has largely perfected Chandler's much-mimicked, seldom-bettered knack for similes and one-liners . . . An exceptionally effective act of literary ventriloquism and entirely irresistible." (Observer)
"Clever bird, this Banville, I thought to myself, tilting my fedora back. He’s got Marlowe back on his feet all right. I shook out a cigarette, poured another whiskey and read to the end. The Black-Eyed Blonde is an open-and-shut case." (Financial Times)
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Love the voice on this reading
It's a great bedtime listen but the story, while well told, will appeal only to those who are raymond carver fans since banville (the pen behind benjamin black) is really entering into the mindset of the time…so dont expect a Benjamin Black novel!
It's the voice which I love and the fun one liners which capture the genre