Henry Holt announced today that John Banville, the Man Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist, will write a new Philip Marlowe novel for publication in 2013 featuring the hero-detective of Raymond Chandler’s best-selling books.
Under the pseudonym Benjamin Black, Banville currently writes a series of crime novels for Holt that features Quirke, his one-named, hard-drinking Dublin pathologist. The fifth book in the series, Vengeance, will be published this week.
John Sterling, an editor at large for Macmillan and editor of the Black novels, acquired the book, which will be written under an arrangement with the Chandler estate. Along with Marlowe, Banville will bring back policeman Bernie Ohls, the gumshoe’s good friend.
The book will have an original plot and take place in the 1940s. The setting will remain in Bay City – Chandler’s fictional stand-in for Santa Monica, California – and feature Chandler’s hallmark noir ambience.
“I love the challenge of following in the very large footsteps of Raymond Chandler,” Banville said. “I began reading Chandler as a teenager, and frequently return to the novels. This idea has been germinating for several years and I relish the prospect of setting a book in Marlowe’s California, which I always think of in terms of Edward Hopper’s paintings. Bay City will have a slightly surreal, or hyper-real, atmosphere that I look forward to creating.”
“John Banville writing as Benjamin Black recreating Raymond Chandler is a perfect literary hand-off,” said Sterling. “There is no one better to bring Philip Marlowe back to life for the vast readership that loves noir crime fiction.”
Chandler wrote screenplays, short stories and novels. He perfected the genre of crime fiction that featured hard-boiled detectives like Marlowe, a wise-cracking private eye who spoke to the reader in a signature, first-person staccato voice and was the protagonist of “The Big Sleep” (1939), “Farewell, My Lovely” (1940), “The High Window” (1942), “The Lady in the Lake” (1943), “The Little Sister” (1949), “The Long Goodbye” (1953) and “Playback” (1958). His eighth Marlowe novel, “Poodle Springs” was unfinished at the time of his death in 1959, and completed by best-selling mystery writer Robert B. Parker, author of the successful “Spenser” series, in 1989.