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The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel (Philip Marlowe series Book 10) Kindle Edition

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Length: 300 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

He put out his right hand for me to shake. It was like being given a sleek, cool-skinned animal to hold for a moment or two. That must be Philip Marlowe talking, right? It is, sort of. Black (the mystery-writing pseudonym for Irish writer John Banville) offers a stylish homage to Raymond Chandler in this tightly written caper that picks up Marlowe’s life from the point the series ended. Naturally, it begins with a leggy blonde easing her silky body into Marlowe’s office chair and spinning a story that turns out to be about half poppycock. Marlowe takes the bait, of course, and begins to search for a con man whose death may have been exaggerated. The plot is nearly impenetrable in classic Chandler fashion, and there are numerous allusions to the earlier books, including the surprise appearance of a character from The Long Goodbye whose presence will either enrage or enthrall devoted fans. The focus, though, as it was for Chandler, is on style and mood, and the Irishman, perhaps surprisingly, nails both. The homage game is a tricky one to play, but Black makes all the right moves. Great fun for Chandlerians. --Bill Ott


Somewhere Raymond Chandler is smiling, because this is a beautifully rendered hardboiled novel that echoes Chandler's melancholy at perfect pitch. The story is great, but what amazed me is how John Banville caught the cumulative effect Chandler's prose had on readers. It's hard to quantify, but it's also what separated the Marlowe novels from the general run of noir (which included some damn fine novelists, like David Goodis and Jim Thompson). The sadness runs deep. I loved this book. It was like having an old friend, one you assumed was dead, walk into the room. Kind of like Terry Lennox, hiding behind those drapes. Stephen King Banville channeling Chandler is irresistible-a double whammy of a mystery. Hard to think anyone could add to Chandler with profitable results. But Banville most definitely gets it done. Richard Ford John Banville's convincing imitation of Raymond Chandler's literary detective brings to mind an older Humphrey Bogart ... The plot, though new, follows the master's hand ... The Irish understudy takes on Chandler's habits convincingly ...What Banville, through Black, brings to Chandler is perhaps an enhanced literary sensibility. His Marlowe is alert to nuances of language. -- Mark Lawson Guardian The Black-Eyed Blonde includes winks and nods to ardent Chandler fans, but the book will work as first-rate noir for anyone ... It's remarkable how fresh this book feels while still hewing close to the material on which it's based. The ill-fated Robert B. Parker experiment with Marlowe, "Poodle Springs," did entrust the Chandler legacy to a pro, but not the right one. Now to find a writer whose affinity for the genre has been so well established? And who seemed to be channeling Chandler even before he was asked to, while still maintaining a very identifiable, charismatic voice of his own? It's almost too good to be true. New York Times Raymond Chandler could write some mean prose, the kind that hits like a highball and can knock you off your feet even when you're sitting down. Imitations always run the risk of coming off as a bad parody - like, say, that last sentence. But Black (a.k.a. novelist John Banville) has revived Chandler's legendary PI Philip Marlowe in a new adventure that reads almost as well as the real thing. A perfume heiress hires the shamus to investigate the disappearance of her lover, and the mystery soon opens up under him like a sinkhole. It's not just literary ventriloquism: Black manages to nail not only Marlowe's voice, but his soul. Entertainment Weekly 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, and the voice is spot on too ... that this novel is so enjoyable is a testament to the effectiveness of the formula that Chandler laboured so hard to perfect. Daily Telegraph You might well be suspicious of the current trend for posthumous piggy-backing and I wouldn't blame you. But this one is the real deal, as sweet and bitter as the perfectly mixed gimlet ... It takes a brilliant writer to make such an unreal character real: Chandler was and Banville is. It's a perfect match ... Perhaps Chandler could have written a better Marlowe novel, but I can't think of anyone else who could. Scotland on Sunday 'Benjamin Black, author of the Quirke series of crime novels set in Dublin in the Fifties - aka Man Booker Prize-winning John Banville - reveals a knack for channelling 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, which include an interview with a starlet on a back-lot and a visit to a creepy, swanky country club staffed by oddballs, are magnificent ... More, please' 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. Best of all, though, he conjures the world-weary loneliness of Chandler's creation, a character who, in just seven novels, the world saw far too little of. Banville/Black clearly loves writing this and the fun he's having - his affection for Chandler's world - shines through. An exceptionally effective act of literary ventriloquism and entirely irresistible. Observer 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

Product Details

  • File Size: 630 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (March 4, 2014)
  • Publication Date: March 4, 2014
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,496 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Benjamin Black, the pen name of acclaimed novelist John Banville, is the author of Christine Falls and The Silver Swan. Christine Falls was nominated for both the Edgar Award and Macavity Award for Best Novel; both Christine Falls and Silver Swan were national bestsellers. Banville lives in Dublin.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Sid Nuncius TOP 100 REVIEWER on March 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Unlike many other reviewers here I didn't get on with this book at all. It's partly my own fault - I love Chandler so there was always a risk that someone else trying to revive Marlowe wouldn't suit me at all, but I admire John Banville and thought he might be the man to do it. Sadly, he isn't

This is a decent enough detective story, but its narrator is simply not Marlowe. Banville has a crack at reproducing the distinctive, laconic narrative style, but it's not right at all, I'm afraid. Chandler was a truly great writer of English, in my view, and it would be unfair to criticise another writer for not reproducing his style exactly, but it seems to me that Banville hasn't let go sufficiently of his own style (which is excellent in its own way) to allow Marlowe to emerge in any sort of convincing form.

Banville and Chandler are both masters of description but in very different ways. For example, Banville's narrator in Ancient Light describes a character thus: "She really is of the most remarkable shape, and might have been assembled from a collection of cardboard boxes of varying sizes that were first left out in the rain and then piled soggily any old way one on top of another." Marlowe's description of Moose Molloy, however, begins, "He was a big man but not more than six feet five inches tall and not wider than a beer truck." They are two brilliant but wholly different styles. It seems that Banville can't quite subordinate his own style to Chandler's and the result is that Marlowe's dry, ironic voice is replaced by what reads like a pastiche of a deservedly forgotten 1950s English or Irish detective novel.

For example, very early on his client refuses to respond because Marlowe is looking out of the window.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Thomas VINE VOICE on February 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It’s difficult to imagine being handed the task of writing a Philip Marlowe novel. Raymond Chandler, the original author is now such an icon of classic crime/noir fiction that it would just be too daunting for most authors to attempt. On the other hand, what an honor to be asked to do so! Benjamin Black (pseudonym of Man Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville) was an excellent choice in my opinion as he captures much of what we readers look for in a Marlowe novel.

Set in early 1950’s LA, of course, the plot surrounds a case presented to PI Philip Marlowe by the titular black-eyed blonde, Claire Cavendish. It seems she wants him to find her former lover. Almost immediately, Marlowe discovers the guy had previously been killed in a hit-and-run but that Ms. Cavendish has since seen him walking the streets of San Francisco. From there events take off in all directions and it isn’t long before Marlowe finds himself entwined among the rich and famous, movie stars, the underworld, and of course, the femme fatale.

The author totally captures the atmosphere of a Chandler novel, the mood of the city, the action of brutal fights, dead bodies, and an exquisite investigation. He also captures the essence of the character of Marlowe, himself, truly a testament to the skills of this author. That being said, this is not an exact replica of a Raymond Chandler Philip Marlowe novel. While Black does come close to the style and all of those memorable lines that Chandler seemed to come up with so effortlessly, I think he wisely steered clear of overdoing that for fear it would result in a sense of fakery. There are still plenty of one liners and amazingly descriptive phrases, very much like Chandler’s style, but thankfully, the story is not plastered with them.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Angela Reads on February 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A few years ago, I decided to try Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe detective series. I've always loved a good mystery but had never tried any in the "hard-boiled" style. After I read book #2 in the series I was addicted. I read all the Marlowe books in quick succession and was sad to finish. Often the stories were a bit depressing, and people (especially Marlowe) kept getting knocked on the head, and women weren't often portrayed in the greatest light - but somehow Marlowe really grew on me, and I always wanted to find out how he would solve the puzzle and catch the bad guy.

Even though it's been a few years, when I picked up this book by Benjamin Black, I got the same feeling I did when reading the originals. The same grittiness, the same melancholy, the same oppressive heat - and hey, Marlowe got knocked in the head at least twice, ha-ha...

I have seen other reviewers say that this Marlowe novel doesn't work the way the Chandler ones did. I'm not an expert, but for me, it did work.

It starts when a blonde bombshell with black eyes walks into Marlowe's office and asks him to find her missing ex-lover. Marlowe is instantly smitten with her, obviously, and agrees to do the work even though she doesn't pay him. Of course, he finds it isn't as simple as she made it sound - he discovers some deaths and almost gets killed himself. When he tries to get straight answers out of the blonde, she always dodges his questions, in one way or another. The ending is rather sad but gives resolution to the plot.

The mystery ends up tying in to the last mystery in the original Chandler series. A lot of characters are mentioned again here, so I would recommend reading this Marlowe novel after you've read the originals. It will bring more depth to this book.
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