Raymond Chandler's incomparable private eye is back, pulled by a seductive young heiress into the most difficult and dangerous case of his career. "It was one of those summer Tuesday afternoons when you begin to wonder if the earth has stopped revolving. The telephone on my desk had the look of something that knows it's being watched. Traffic trickled by in the street below, and there were a few pedestrians, too, men in hats 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 the panache and charm of the originals while delivering a story that is as sharp and fresh as today's best crime fiction.
©2014 John Banville (P)2013 Macmillan Audio
"Dennis Boutsikaris narrates with marvelous aplomb.... [he] nails the cool but inviting tone, the clipped tempo, the razor and the velvet of such a tale. He differentiates between characters without overacting, and does a more than passable female - shades of Lauren Bacall, in fact. This is a perfect weekend listen." (AudioFile)
I've read every Chandler story and novel several times, and looked into every Chandler reboot I could find. This one hits all the right notes. Someone complained about the narrator, but I thought it was just fine. Not a Humphrey Bogart imitation, but a good straightforward read of a well-wrought book.
The performance is essentially at the core of an audio book. This is an embarrassing moment in the usually stellar record of audible.com. If you want the the experience of a guy reading the phone book, then this is your book, with the pacing and the inflection of just such an endeavor. This is the only review I've written in some measure of haste- hoping to protect other unsuspecting listeners.
Primarily, it was the lack of timing. The words were read in a hurried manner lacking any depth or expression. By far, the most disappointing reader I've encountered at Audible.
Avoid this title.
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