The Black-Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black

I have a theory I would like to share with you all. The better the book cover, the worse the book.

Yes, in a way I do sometimes judge a book by its cover. I think the cover for The Black-Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black is pretty striking. It gives off old Hollywood vibes and I think of pregnant women drinking highballs at noon in the 1950s- because fetal alcohol syndrome wasn’t even a thing back then.

Isn’t this during a time in which women didn’t work and would hire Dick Tracy to find out who their husband is cheating on them with? Well that was what I expecting when I stumbled upon this mystery involving private eye, Philip Marlowe.

Hi my name is Philip Marlowe and I am an alcoholic

Truthfully I have yet to do my research on this Philip character but from what I have gathered he has been a central role in many crime mysteries by various authors throughout time. Based on this rendition of him I definitely think he drinks too much and is not as smart as most people think.

I interpreted him as a low rent Dick Tracy. Overly eager to fool himself into thinking he is more than the hired help when a hot blonde saunters into his office asking him to find her lover who disappeared. She is wearing gloves and a veil- why on earth would he think she wants a romantic relationship with him?

Clare Cavendish… heiress and temptress

That hot blonde with the black eyes is of course Clare Cavendish. She is heiress to a perfume fortune, very much legally married to another man and emotionally unavailable.

Just Philip Marlowe’s type, or at least according to Benjamin Black. However, I believe any element of common sense screams in disagreement from the very beginning of this crime novel. It has a lot of old Hollywood elements chief among them an strange ability to fool oneself into thinking that this is how life works.

And fool himself… he did

There was not a whole lot of character development here and since I was not previously familiar with anything about Philip Marlowe, or had ever even heard of him, it would have been helpful for me to understand why he thought the way he did. Even he had a hard time believing Clare really wanted him to simply find her former lover. Far more incredulous was that she was willing to roll in the hay with Philip in order to get him to seek this loverboy who clearly did not want to be found.

I didn’t have to have much of a backstory on these characters to know that Clare had ulterior motives and Philip had stars in his eyes. He also had stars circling his head after he got banged up several times on this cursed quest.

Now really, I don’t mind a good action scene with a solid knockout but I don’t even think Philip got a good swing in on the bad guys. We find him coming to the next day with while admitting he didn’t think he would live to see it more than a few times. At least get a good swing in there Philip old boy! Don’t you know the ropes?

On the other hand I think the precarious and harrowing situations he found himself in were the most interesting parts of the book.

Women are his downfall… and so are the men behind them

Reading this had me singing “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga because that is how I saw most of it.

Philip was certainly caught up in a bad one. I spent most of the time hoping that it was worth it to him seeing as it almost got him killed more than once.

Case closed…

I didn’t enjoy this book all that much. I really thought it was just okay putting it in the two star category. The story was just all over the place. There was a clearly fake romance going on, an elusive lover, and blatant deception that wasn’t fully addressed.

The conclusion itself had some action to it and wrapped up pretty swiftly for all of the unlikely suffering that had taken place beforehand. Clare’s family members are suddenly involved from out of nowhere and while it was pretty obvious that Philip was a pawn he wasn’t even really a part of the conclusion. He just kind of stood there and for the first time wasn’t actually knocked out.

If I were Clare I wouldn’t have paid for his services.

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