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review 2019-11-03 01:46
Book Review: The Black-Eyed Blonde
The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel - Benjamin Black

Book: The Black-Eyed Blonde


Author: Benjamin Black


Genre: Hard-Boiled Detective/Gangster/Noir/Police Novel


Summary: "It was one of those Tuesday afternoons in summer when you wonder if the earth has stopped revolving. The telephone on my desk had the air of something that knows it's being watched. Cars trickled past in the street below the dusty window of my office, and a few of the good folks of our fair city ambled along the sidewalk, men in hats, mostly, 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 novel that has all of the panache and charm of the originals while delivering a story that is as sharp and fresh as today's best crime fiction. -Henry Holt, 2014.

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review 2014-10-29 00:00
The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel
The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel - Benjamin Black This book was actually not that bad. It had an interesting storyline, and the trademarks of a noir novel. The problem, for me, was only that it was supposed to be a Philip Marlowe novel. Not because I expected something different (I did, but I have no problem changing my standards), but because the bad parts of the book are the parts that are supposed to link it to Marlowe.

Starting with the time placement: the novel is supposed to be set during the 1940s. Nothing wrong with that. But the language the author uses is very different from the language you'd see in Raymond Chandler's books. It's kind of a modern language. To compensate for that, the author shoves time references into the story in every available opportunity, referring to actresses of the time, products, movies... It feels fake, especially if you've just read Marlowe by Chandler.

Marlowe's character, in itself, feels fake. It feels like somebody else pretending to be him. In essence, that's exactly what it is, so I don't know how much I should complain about that...

Maybe realizing his shortcomings, the author decided to make references to previous Marlowe books almost constantly. This book is very much a sequel to [b:Playback|153590|Playback|Raymond Chandler|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388450886s/153590.jpg|2504821]. I would have to problem with that per se, even though Chandler's books were always very episodic and made minimal, if any, references to each other, but the constant repetition gets grating after a while. (And by "a while", I mean "right after the first two chapters".)

I am not sorry I have read it, the story really was interesting and well developed. It was what a noir book is supposed to be, if you can overlook the other problems.
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