Playback Mass Market Paperback – 1977
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|Mass Market Paperback, 1977||
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Top Customer Reviews
He wrote three more, however, The Little Sister in the late 40s, The Long Goodbye in the early 50s, and Playback a few years later. The Little Sister is generally fairly favorably viewed, and there are many critics and readers who feel that The Long Goodbye is Chandler's masterpiece. It is his longest, most subtle, most introspective, and, to me, his most compelling. Many people consider it a major part of American literature and I think it might well be the best thriller ever written.
Playback, written after Chandler had moved to LaJolla, his beloved wife had died, and his alcoholism had become semi-acute, is a disaster. The writing is flat and uninspired, the metaphors and similes that once flowed so brilliantly are forced and trite ("he was an impervious as the square root of minus five"), and Marlowe is clearly just going through the motions.
If you've read all the others and loved them, I probably can't dissuade you from reading this one. If you liked the grotesquely bad Poodle Springs Murders started by Chandler and finished by Robert Parker, then you'll probably find this one acceptable also. If you barely made your way through Poodle Springs, you'll feel the same about Playback -- and wish that Chandler's last book had been the brilliant Long Goodbye.
I've always liked how Marlowe gets hungry and other simple things that are left out of many detective novels. He's tough but human as he describes to his female client. "If I wasn't hard, I wouldn't be alive. If I couldn't ever be gentle, I wouldn't deserve to be alive."
I have no idea whether Marlowe's life is an accurate portrayal of a Los Angeles Private Eye during the 1930-1950s. You have to figure that their lives were a lot less exciting than Philip Marlowe's. And maybe that alone makes this novel a little underrated. Its scant plot is probably more in order with what would really happen to a PI. We're pre-conditioned to every detective case being about a series of murders.
I do know that Marlowe's experiences, tactics and observations make these books a fun journey. He wrote so very few during his years that even the calmer ones like Playback are worth the time spent.
Most of the narrative takes place not in Los Angeles but in a small resort town near San Diego. Philip Marlowe has been paid to follow a beautiful redhead though he is not told why. Because he thinks she might be in danger, Marlowe identifies himself and offers to help the redhead who is traveling under the name of Betty Mayfield. Before long, an aquaintance of Miss Mayfield turns up dead. We subsequently learn that the body was caused to disappear in a very gimmicky manner. A manner one would be more likely to expect to find in a bad episode of Mannix than in a Raymond Chandler novel. Quite frankly, when I read this particular passage in all its cheesiness, I became embarrassed for the author and his countless fans everywhere.
Playback is worth reading if only to see how much Marlowe and American society had changed since the character's debut in the 1930's. Raymond Chandler is an American original, a legendary writer and pioneer of the hard-boiled detective genre. But Playback falls far short of the high standard he himself had set.
The book explores some of the social class-conflicts present in other Marlowe's novels although with less bitterness: the policemen are not so brutal, the richmen are not so mean. The girl, though, is as cruel as usual.
The Black Lizard edition is quite good: confortable to read, aesthetically atractive. Just one mistake: the text in the back cover (yes, the one that you read before buying the book) tells you a little bit too much. Marlowe is told to follow a girl and you only know why on chapter 24 (of the 28 of the book). Well, if you read the 12 lines of the back cover you already discovered that before you even bought the book and that spoils half of the mystery (the other half is quite predictable anyway). So the advise is: buy the book, begin reading in the first page and never look at the backcover.
The book is good both for Chandler's fans and just crime novel lovers, but if you hadn't read the previous Marlowe's adventures you wont enjoy it that much. Read the other Marlowe cases first, beginning with The Big Sleep.
Most recent customer reviews
Awesome read . This guy has some really good books . have read many and enjoyed them all . recommendPublished on Jan. 12 2013 by sharon Free
Yes, Playback is the last of Chandler's novels.
No, it isn't the best of his novels-- not by a long shot.
Yes, it is still worth the time that it takes to read. Read more
Why do I love Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels so much? I love them for Marlowe's edgy, wisecracking comments that drive its recipients mad. Read morePublished on July 7 2002 by IRA Ross
If not my very favorite author, Raymond Chandler is up in the top five. Which is why I loath to rate this book as I do. Read morePublished on March 26 2002 by Brendan Tucker
I have read all of Raymond Chandler's novels, and I believe Playback was his last. This story was first intended, I believe as a screenplay, and reading the story, you definitely... Read morePublished on Feb. 19 2002
This was Chandler's first book that I read and I really enjoyed it. Philip Marlowe's in this book is like in the other's a great detective. Read morePublished on Sept. 9 1999
From Hammett to Chandler we see the beginning of the modern day tough guy detective. In this novel, Chandler's raging cynic, Phillip Marlowe, completes the cycle which began in... Read morePublished on May 21 1999