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(Black #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,244 Ratings  ·  117 Reviews
Artemus Black. Perennially down-on-his-luck Hollywood PI whose Bogie fixation is as dated as his wardrobe. With an assistant who mocks him relentlessly, an obese cat that loathes him, a romantic life that's deader than Elvis, money problems, booze, nicotine, and anger management issues, how much worse can it get? When he takes a case that's supposed to be easy money workin ...more
Kindle Edition, 233 pages
Published September 8th 2013 by Reprobatio Ltd (first published August 9th 2013)
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Christopher Everest
Introducing (for me) a new detective. Artemus James (Jim) Black. Call me Black. Roughly hewn from a similar granite to Spade, Marlowe, Archer but with a marvellous sprinkling of Nick and Nora Charles. Yes it is set in a modern world as opposed to those earlier days of Chandleresque mean-streeting but the main character Artemus (He hates the name) echoes that desire to rescue damsels and to make a living doing it. Russell Blake however subtly and cleverly subverts this straightforward heroism wit ...more
Kim Cano
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've read the Jet series and the Assassin series (my favorite) and looked forward to the BLACK series as it is lighter. What a funny book this is. It's filled with a cast of colorful characters that are memorable. I found myself laughing most in the scenes between Black and his police officer buddy Stan. My favorite people were Black's parents, Spring and Chakra. They're hysterical. The best part was how everything goes their way because they think positive thoughts, and how it infuriates their ...more
Cathy Ryan
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
Black is a real vintage feel PI, with slicked back black hair, dressing in 40’s style suits and fedora hats, as though he’s been whisked away from his own time zone and dropped into the present day. I was picturing a James Garner look-a-like all the way through. He’s down on his luck and harbouring bitter feelings about his immensely rich parents who not only gave him the name he hates and refuse to call him anything else, but also became wealthy with the minimum of effort, while he str
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: noir, mystery
Black is the first novel in what purports to be a series about a modern private investigator who dresses and thinks like a classic noir detective. The narration is even filled with classic detective-style similes, much like the classics. For example, one character is described as having, “…sputtered like a politician caught in a lie.” (p. 149) The mystery itself is rather straight-forward—we’ve seen the reveal a thousand times before, but the ride is worth the fare if you like humor mixed with h ...more
Lady Delacour
This story was so so, but soooo FUNNY!!!
With some editing and clean up,
it would have worked better for me.
But... it was Fun!
Brian Palmer
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, mystery
A modern noir, the main character is flawed and grizzled, with an interesting background. Some of the side characters show surprising depth with just a few words sketched. Yet, I'm down on this book, for two reasons: the main character (while interesting) is mostly a passive observer of the main storyline, and the dialog often felt forced and a bit repetitive.

If this were an early novel by the author, I'd seek out newer work to see if they grow past these early wrinkles; but the author seems to
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good read

Descriptions of wearing apparel got a little old but the plot and action totally overrode any negatives. A great PI story with luscious women involved is great reading for anyone. The plot was exceptional as it took most of the book to figure out the culprit, then to discover it wasn't them. Great description of Hollywood and the abundant trash that occupies it. Read this book, you will enjoy it.
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed
Modern day hardboiled detective. Great stuff. Typical guy running own PI business that's on shoestring budget, sarcastic secretary, celebrities, jilted lovers, a beautiful woman, alcohol, and a nearly broke-down car. Exactly what I wanted.
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very good suspenseful mystery. I like the characters, especially the main character, Black. There is much humor between he and his office assistant, Roxie. Dry, sarcastic quips as they tolerate each other in his low-budget P.I. business.

I recommend this series!
Nadine A. Stevens
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing

This is a must read, I love all the characters, the end of the twist was lack luster, some loose ends to Meagen death , but I'm so in love with Black 👏👏
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great series, so of the self-deprecating characters can get a bit old though...
Veralynne Malone
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was ok the first few pages....but was really boring for me.
Helene Slowik
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Good tale starring a less than perfect detective. The return to the old detective style was fun
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Okay book. If you like noir, it will be a good story.
Adam Cagle
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is my second Blake series, and first Black book... pretty good. It's like an old-timey detective series in the modern day. Pretty much the same wit and banter I enjoy from the Ramsey series. Good easy reading fun.
Kimberly Hicks
May 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to Kimberly by: Bookbub
Shelves: read-on-kindle
I debated whether to give this book two or three stars! I have to admit the cover of this book reminded me of vintage Private Dick novels of yesteryear, and since it was so critically acclaimed, I figured I'd take a chance on it. . .and, well unfortunately this book left me feeling Black, much like the character's name.

The author is very gifted in using words--some words so large, I had to look up some of them because they weren't in my brain vocabulary, however, that's the problem I had with th
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, story-bundle
When I read the introductory chapter, where a couple of paparazzi were pursuing a woman in a sports car, the chase ending when both cars fell off a cliff, I was pretty sure I was going to hate the book. The prose was distinctly purple and pulpy. Fortunately things improved from there, although the writing style surfaced again whenever the author switched to a floating third perspective to describe the occasional murders (like they do on TV shows, showing what the murderer is doing but not reveal ...more
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found "Black" on an Amazon Kindle special, and I was pleasantly surprised! "Black" is the first work by James Raven I have read, and I know I shall try another. Somewhat reminiscent of a cross between Spillane’s Mike Hammer and Garner’s Jim Rockford, Artemus Black seems to be a down-on-his-luck Hollywood PI whose Bogie fedora wearing fixation is as dated as his wardrobe (ask Roxie - his secretary). If you are looking for a “new character” (who does seems a bit familiar) sprinkled with a dose o ...more
May 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Yeah- I really can't understand why this book has so many 5 star ratings. To me, while it's not a bad read, I'd rate it the impossible 2.5 rounded down to a 2. I try to read some lighter mysteries, hopefully with a bit of humour included, to unwind after a darker and more serious read and from all the blurbs and a lot of the reviews I thought I'd found another series to fit that scene but maybe it's just my sense of humour but I only found a few smiles and a couple of giggles in this book and ne ...more
Gae-Lynn Woods
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What? Another book in an overdone genre? You'd think this is just another PI series with a down on his luck hero, a smartass assistant, quirky associates, and a seemingly simple job to perform that somehow goes horribly wrong. But you'd be wrong. As in all his other books, Russell Blake takes a tired genre and turns it on its head with great writing, memorable characters, and a dark plot.

Artemis Black is a man from another time, born decades too late for his 1973 Cadillac and time capsule wardro
Verge LeNoir
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Hollywood private dick Artemus Black is one hip cat (or so he likes to think). What keeps him grounded is Roxie; his fabulous office assistant who makes up for much of the cool banter peppered throughout the book. The guy has problems. From an out-of-this-era wardrobe, to an ex who took the money he made as a one-time musician, to an overweight tabby who hates his guts. Add to this, filthy rich hippy parents (while he struggles to make end meet), and you’ve got yourself an antsy guy.

An ageing mo
Wasn't sure if I should rate this a 2 or 3. It was a 2.5 read for me.

The good ~ I MOSTLY liked the main character. I think he should kick his so called therapist to the curb. The therapist is an asshole, but so were a lot of other characters. Black is set in his ways and only he can (and does sometimes) modify his behavior. He doesn't need a therapist making things worse. The storyline was ok, kept me engaged for the most part. Saw the main thing coming.

The bad ~ Roxie would be ok if she tapered
Ken Doggett
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
Black is a private investigator trying to be a modern-day Bogart. Part of the fun is that he succeeds in this only in his own mind. Another plus is the banter with his secretary, and with others as well, but becomes a negative when it continues too long and comes off as artificial, far removed from reality and often inappropriate. So the book could use some editing. It also stretches credulity at the end when, after being so desperate for money for most of the book, he suddenly becomes very gene ...more
Jun 17, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
Boring...beyond boring

I really wanted to like this book, but with all the negativity and downer drab, this book should be renamed "My Sorry Life in California". The book starts off with a car chase and from there is just boring. At 17% I just couldn't force myself to even finish. I loved the premise of a modern noir book, but this was just lacking so bad. The hero is basically a doormat to his parents and secretary. The secretary is like a spoiled child with a mouth full of back talk. I LOVE no
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Russell Blake is a master in creating great characters, and great series based on them. Last year with JET and now with Artemus Black.
The hard-boyled style is a bit different from his previous works but he has no problems mastering this genre. It could even compete with some of the classics.
The prose and plot are fast as usual and the characterization of the main characters is enough detailed, but more background will be surely added in the future episodes.
Being the first in a series, this novel
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was so much fun I gave it five stars even though Russell Blake refers to The Wild, Wild West as "a crappy seventies-era TV show". (It ran 1965 to 1969. He couldn't look it up?) Blake's knowledge of and reverence for the genre is evident. His pitch-perfect descriptions are over-the-top combinations of corn and hyperbole. And his protagonist, Artemus Black (hence the reference to The Wild, Wild West), is a down-on-his-luck schlub whose instincts never fail him and whose compassion never ...more
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful first book in a detective series. Artemes Black is a PI.He has bad taste in clothing and bad luck in everything else.He's hired by an old actor making his comeback to find out why everyone around him is dying.The gig turns out to be much more than expected.
R.C. Bray does a wonderful job with narration.He sounds just like an old time PI should.
"I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via AudiobookB
Sabina D'agliano
May 29, 2014 rated it liked it
This book started off really strong. The main character Artemus Black is a throwback to the Bogie days and his relationship with his rock edgy assistant has potential to be really fun. The story line got a little weird when his hippie parents show up but all in all it was a book that flowed well... good original characters... and a solid plot line. I would only wish Black had a little more skill. I will say that I want to read the sequels because I think the writer has a good grasp of the genre ...more
Thibaldo Manrique
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Everything it said it would be

As advertised, it is the story of an anachronistic detective that bumbles his way through one chaotic situation to the next.

The writing is OK, as is the character development. The story is good, but the plot and take are very traditional, nothing new. To the point that the villain is plain to see about mid book.

No great twists or turns, but a steady pace of action and low self-esteem comments.

I did not like the character of the hero, but that's just me.

A fair book t
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Massive Disappointment

I was extremely disappointed with this novel. POV was confusing, the subplot and the main story ended with zero fanfare and the mystery itself was an easy deduction, especially if you are even remotely a noir fan. The characters were a saving grace from a lackluster, lazy plot. I recommend it for those interested in quirky characters and novice readers of the noir genre.
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“Women, huh? What are you going to do with ’em? I thought the newer models would be easier to operate, but not at all. Can’t live with ’em, can’t keep ’em in a cage in the cellar…I never said that, by the way. The feminists would have a field day with it.” Hunter’s” 0 likes
“He could attribute his mood to having quit smoking. It was that rough period that lasted from the final puff until you died.” 0 likes
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