Friday, 10 July 2015

The Perfect Library - The Dark Eyed Blonde

Has the apocalypse happened? I've actually finished another book from my Perfect Library Challenge! Finally! I'm still having the same problem as the last time regarding finding the time to read, but my boyfriend recently started a new job and because I finish at 5 and he finishes at half 5 I've been going to pick him up (best girlfriend ever!) and have been reading in the carpark while I wait.

The next book I randomly chose from my list of doom was The Dark Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black. I didn't realise this until halfway through but it's actually a new part in a series of books that were originally written by Raymond Chandler. I don't know how I didn't catch onto this right away, any book that says something like "A Philip Marlowe Novel" on the front cover is pretty much guaranteed to be part of a series!

"Maybe it was time I forgot about Nico Peterson, and his sister, and the Cahuilla Club, and Clare Cavendish. Clare? The rest would be easy to put out of my mind, but not the black eyed blonde."

The book is about a private detective, the aforementioned Philip Marlowe, who lives in LA in the 1950's and has been hired to find a missing person by the man's beautiful ex girlfriend. I  was excited about the settting, I love all that kind of noir detective stuff (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Veronica Mars and Bugsy Malone being the first, maybe not very accurate, examples that spring to mind...) and it didn't disappoint. I also loved the writing style, it's told in first person narrative and the main character had a very distinctive, conversational voice which made reading the detailed descriptions entertaining.

It's hard to compare how this stands up against the originals, since I hadn't, you know heard of them until halfway through the book and still haven't read any of them because I'm apparently currently managing one book every few months, but Stephen King thinks it's a good addition to the series if that means anything to anyone. (I know this because he's quoted on the back cover you see.)

Characterisation wise...Well. I think it's a pretty lonely life being a private detective! There were some entertaining characters that flitted in and out but none were overly memorable save the main character and Clare Cavendish. I did like both those characters though and to be honest I think you kind of have to like the main character on same level if you're going to enjoy this book because you spend a lot of time in his head!

I'm going to be honest here and say that I didn't find the mystery that enthralling, but I think how much I loved the writing made up for that for me. I found this one of those books that was more about the journey than the destination and I would absolutely reread this book, which I think says a lot. Usually I would find the rereadability factor pretty low in mysteries, just because of the nature of the genre, but since I was reading for the writing I would definitely pick it up again a while down the line.

All in all I had a great time reading this (apart from when I kept forgetting who some of the characters were - entirely my fault because I was picking it up so sporadically at the start) and would probably give it a 3.5 out of 5, which would have been a 4 if I'd been more engrossed in the mystery.

I'm making good progress with my next book (which actually isn't on my Perfect Library List) so hopefully I'll have another review up in a slightly more acceptable time frame!

Let me know in the comments if you've read any good books recently!