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The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel (Philip Marlowe Series) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews



As Raymond Chandler once wrote “Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.” It is the early 1950’s and Philip Marlowe is back walking the mean streets of Bay City, California. Benjamin Black (aka John Banville) is guiding the quintessential P.I. through a dangerous case involving a seductive young heiress, the black-eyed blonde. She hires him to find her former lover Nico Peterson. We know that the case is not going to be a simple search for a lover gone missing. As Marlowe begins his search, he starts to grasp how far the heiress and her rich Bay City family will go to protect their interests. Full of plot twists to satisfy the most discerning mystery reader, The Black-Eyed Blonde is a sharp, somewhat melancholy, yet compelling novel. To continue in Raymond Chandler’s words “The detective must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor.” Benjamin Black’s Marlowe fits the bill. –Linda


— From Linda's Latest List

March 2014 Indie Next List

“In well-written noir, each sentence feels like a story unto itself and strung together those sentences form a book that feels somehow 'more' than any other out there. The Black-Eyed Blonde is such a book. Black manages to mimic the style of one of the best-known authors of the 20th century while still keeping a distinct voice. Raymond Chandler fans will be happy to see Phillip Marlowe back roaming the mean streets of L.A. There's a sultry femme fatale, a sinister philanthropist, and plenty of punches thrown, pistols whipped, and suits ruined. The Black-Eyed Blonde is a tall drink of whiskey, and I enjoyed every drop!”
— Lauren Peugh, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ



"It was one of those summer Tuesday afternoons when you begin to wonder if the earth has stopped revolving." So begins 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: blond, beautiful, and expensively dressed, she wants Marlowe to find her former lover. Almost immediately, Marlowe discovers that the man's disappearance is merely the first in a series of bewildering events, and soon he is tangling with one of Bay City's richest—and most ruthless—families.
Only Benjamin Black, a modern master of the genre, could write a new Philip Marlowe 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.

About the Author

Benjamin Black is the pen name of the Man Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville. Black's books include The Black-Eyed Blonde, Christine Falls, The Silver Swan, among others. He lives in Dublin.

Praise For…

“A bulll's-eye.” —The New York Times

“Somewhere Raymond Chandler is smiling . . . I loved this book. It was like having an old friend, one you assumed was dead, walk into the room.” —Stephen King

“[Black] has revived Chandler's legendary PI Philip Marlowe in a new adventure . . . A perfume heiress hires the shamus to investigate the disappearance of her lover, and the mystery soon opens up under him like a sinkhole . . . Black manages to nail not only Marlowe's voice, but his soul.” —Entertainment Weekly

“[Black] channeling Chandler is irresistible--a double whammy of a mystery. Hard to think anyone could add to Chandler with profitable results. But [Black] most definitely gets it done.” —Richard Ford

“Terrific fun . . . The Black-Eyed Blonde could be passed off as a newly discovered Chandler manuscript found in some dusty La Jolla closet . . . Any fan of Chandler's work is going to enjoy it.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Half the pleasure of this book, at least for a Chandler fan, is to notice Black getting the little things right . . . Against a dozen other detective novels on my desk, I'll take a Raymond Chandler any day of the week, even when its written by somebody else--assuming that somebody is Benjamin Black.” —All Things Considered, NPR

“It's vintage L.A., toots: The hot summer, rain on the asphalt, the woman with the lipstick, cigarette ash and alienation, V8 coupes, tough guys, snub-nosed pistols, the ice melting in the bourbon . . . The results are Chandleresque, sure, but you can see [Black's] sense of fun.” —The Washington Post

“I opened the book hopefully--and I closed it entirely satisfied, even thrilled . . . It's all there, the Chandler voice: the crisply detailed description and sly similes that set a scene precisely, the world-weary bemusement of the narrator, his gimlet eye for the ladies and the delicately ominous foreshadowing . . . It's clear [Black] does love Marlowe, and he's reminded me why I love him, too.” —Tampa Bay Times

“From its pitch-perfect opening sentences, Benjamin Black's channeling of Raymond Chandler is one of the season's best mysteries.” —The San Francisco Chronicle

“I was impressed by the plotting of The Black-Eye Blonde, its perfect pacing and use of misdirection . . . [Black] nails the spoiled L.A. atmosphere that is Chandler's forte.” —

“A tremendously fun and diverting tale . . . The author of a somber but beautifully written series of mysteries set in the same era as Chandler's novels, Black was a savvy choice for the job. His nimble plotting drives The Black-Eyed Blonde . . . Marlowe, however, remains the undisputed star of the show, a hardened, magnetic presence.” —Page Views, New York Daily News

“All of the essential ingredients are there, afloat in a tumbler of Santa Monica sleaze . . . But Mr. Black can also make words do things Chandler could only dream of . . . The fun lies in watching two styles tangle . . . With an artfulness worthy of the original, Mr. Black has made it new, though he doesn't forget whom he owes.” —The New York Observer

“What Black captures in Chandler's voice is the weary twist of ambivalence . . . That baseline of doubt, the whiff of regret and then betrayal, form the essential atmosphere of noir fiction. And Black gets that exactly right.” —The Oregonian

“[Black] 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 . . . Entirely irresistible.” —The Guardian (UK)

“[The Black-Eyed Blonde] is probably better than an actual Chandler: more coherent, and more consistent, more careful. [Black] is simply a more elegant writer. Chandler was a metaphorical rogue trader; [Black] is a class act.” —The New Statesman (UK)

“[The fact that] this novel is so enjoyable is a testament to the effectiveness of the formula that Chandler laboured so hard to perfect.” —The Telegraph (UK)

“Seen as a crime novel in its own right it is a cut above anything else out there.” —The Irish Times

“Black's Marlowe caper is in a separate league. It is wonderful, an affectionate tribute and a labour of love that is sure to please Chandler devotees and endear new audiences.” —The National (Abu Dhabi)

“Black skillfully references Chandler characters … [and] remarkably, he seems to channel Chandler's cadence with pithy dialogue, beautifully drawn characters, and a satisfyingly convoluted plot.” —Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

“[Black] brings Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe back to full-blooded life--complete with inner turmoil and honest, hard-boiled dialogue. This is not a pastiche, but the real deal, kicked up a notch with clever traces of irony. It's tightly plotted, has its share of blunt violence and wise-cracks, as well as descriptions of L.A. that puncture the city's elaborate façade. Banville has been compared to Joyce, and this novel confirms the comparison. You'll find memorable passages that demand to be read aloud. [Banville's prose] captures perfectly the melancholy soul of Philip Marlowe.” —Zoom Street Magazine

“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.... While the mystery is well-plotted, Black elevates it beyond mere thoughtful homage with a plausible injection of emotion in his wounded lead.” —Publishers Weekly (boxed and starred review)

“[Black] offers a stylish homage to Raymond Chandler in this tightly written caper . . . The focus . . . is on style and mood, and the Irishman, perhaps surprisingly, nails both. The homage game is a tricky game to play, but Black makes all the right moves. Great fun for Chandlerians.” —Booklist

“Black . . . deliver[s] a more complex and satisfying mystery than other authors have done in the past. This latest incarnation of Chandler's sleuth with appeal to fans of Chandler and Marlowe, but newcomers to one of the first great PIs in crime fiction will find much to enjoy here as well.” —Library Journal

“A treat for fans.” —Kirkus Reviews

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250062123
ISBN-10: 1250062128
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: February 24th, 2015
Pages: 304
Language: English
Series: Philip Marlowe Series