The Black-Eyed Blonde Review
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Read by Dennis Boutsikaris


In 1939, author Raymond Chandler introduced his classic literary private eye, Philip Marlowe—a character who’s since been portrayed on radio, TV, and film, with everyone from Humphrey Bogart to James Garner playing the wise-cracking detective. Now, 75 years later, with The Black-Eyed Blonde, author Benjamin Black resurrects the beloved character and sends him on another pulpy adventure.

The Black-Eyed Blonde finds Marlowe hired by a new client—gorgeous blonde heiress Claire Cavendish—to track down her former boyfriend, Nico Peterson. But it doesn’t take Marlowe much detective work to figure out that Nico Peterson is dead; he was killed in a hit-and-run accident months ago.

When confronted with the evidence, Claire admits that she knew that Nico was dead—she was there on the night he was killed. But she’s convinced that she saw him—alive—not long ago, and she wants Marlowe to figure out if he’s really dead.

  
 
From the beginning, Black sets the perfect stage for a classic detective novel. His Marlowe is a shadowy loner with a quick wit and a weakness for beautiful women. He’s a master of detection and one-liners, though his sense of humor is generally lost on the plethora of tough guys who tend to cross his path. His wry, wise-cracking persona is only solidified by narrator Dennis Boutsikaris, who gives the kind of read that you’d expect to hear on an old radio drama—or providing the voiceover for a black and white TV series.

Marlowe is surrounded by suspicious characters—and as he continues his investigation, running head-on into one surprise after another, he finds himself clashing with Mexican thugs and other mysterious tough guys. But the most mysterious character of all is the novel’s femme fatale, Claire Cavendish, who seduces Marlowe while clearly keeping secrets from him.

Meanwhile, the case takes Marlowe through a variety of classic settings, from the gritty city streets and back alleys to posh clubs and fabulous mansions—and even a movie studio. Each new change in the setting—from mean streets to old money—seems to add to the novel’s classic feel, to the point that the action might very well play out in your mind in crisp black and white.

The Black-Eyed Blonde is cool and classic, with a spot-on read that pulls it all together in one pulpy package. Though the story isn’t particularly memorable, the characters and their timeless settings make it an enjoyably old-school throwback.


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