It’s been a long time since I read a Raymond Chandler/Philip Marlow novel – probably 15 years. And it’s been a long time since I read a John Banville aka anything – I’ve read books by him and I loved the Banville books, but I wasn’t too keen on Black’s crime novels. Still, he’s been around a long time now so they’re apparently selling and getting good reviews etc. So I had The Black-Eyed Blonde on my Wish List for some times but took it off. Then I found it available at the library. When this turned up as being available at the library I figured it was time to try him again.
The Black-Eyed Blonde
by Benjamin Black
Read by Dennis Boutsikaris 7h 53m
Rating: B+ / crime – PI
I dearly love Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Banville/Black does a very credible re-creation – but it’s always a re-creation, it never really belongs to him. These detective novels are ever so much different from his very literary Booker Prize-winning works as Banville. I’ve read one other of the Black books and it was okay but the literary aspect seemed to slow down both the tension and the action. That wasn’t so much a problem this time.
Here the plot and characters follow Chandler’s lead with Marlowe. A rich and beautiful, black-eyed blonde walks into Marlowe’s office. Her boyfriend is missing and she needs the private investigator to find him. Marlowe is always the chivalrous “lady’s man” and obliges although she gives him almost nothing to go on. She pays pretty well, though.
The down side of this job is that her friend was accidentally killed two months prior and was cremated. Now he rests at the bottom of the lake. Or does he? Someone saw him in town, just walking along down the street. There seem to be two problems now; where’s Nico and who’s dead? There are other threads too, of course, like why does the blonde want to find Nico when she’s married to someone else? And what’s her brother got to do with it?