Henry Holt and Co, $27.00, 290 pages, ISBN 978-0-8050-9814-3
One of the most iconic writers of the twentieth century is Raymond Chandler. He is the father of the hard-boiled detective novel, and creator of a character named Phillip Marlowe, who became the prototypical private eye for many of our popular modern writers, notably Robert Parker’s ‘Spenser’ and Michael Connelly’s ‘Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch,’ an LAPD detective. Raymond Chandler died in 1959 at age 71, after writing masterpieces like The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely and The Long Goodbye, leaving readers mourning his passing and crime fiction writers around the world studying his gritty, tough and realistic style.
Happily, the Chandler Estate has licensed a modern master of the crime fiction genre to recreate the lonely, restless and sardonic Marlowe in a new novel with all the charm and swagger of the originals.
The Black-eyed Blonde, by Benjamin Black is a faithful rendering of Marlowe that is almost indistinguishable from Chandler’s original because it mimics his style so well. In my opinion that is the mark of genius because it’s so damned hard to do. Mr. Black evokes Bay City, California in the early 1950’s with such authenticity that one can almost hear the buzz of traffic in the street, smell the dust, feel the blazing heat of August and see the black-eyed blonde woman as she walks into Marlowe’s office one afternoon and hires him to find her former lover, who has disappeared.
Soon after starting the search, Marlowe runs into complications, entanglements and deadly threats from one of Bay City’s wealthiest families who will go to any extremes in order to protect their fortune. The mystery of the missing man is soon solved, but the affair with the black-eyed blonde woman pulls Marlowe ever deeper into something he may not be able to survive. Mystery lover’s rejoice! Marlowe’s back and he’s better than ever.