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Playback Mass Market Paperback – 1977

3.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, 1977
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Ballantine (1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034527511X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345275110
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.4 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Chandler wrote but 7 novels and most critics and readers divide them into two groups, the first four beginning with The Big Sleep and ending with The Lady in the Lake. These were the books that, if you hadn't already read Hammett, introduced the hardboiled thriller and the Southern California noir scene of the 30s and 40s to the general public. Most readers tend to feel that these were Chandler's best books.
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.
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Format: Paperback
The setting--a coastal town called Esmerelda--is well-evoked. The observations are clever and occasionally poignant. And the mystery surrounding Miss Betty Mayfield shows real promise. However, this time out the characters are familiar and too genteel, the revelations are unconvincing, and the whole thing feels tired, as if Chandler were simply going through the motions. A flat note on which to end a career.
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Format: Paperback
Playback doesn't have the intricate plot of the Big Sleep or the Long Goodbye, but it still has wise cracking Philip Marlowe and that's the main reason I read Chandler's work anyway.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Originally published in 1958, just one year before his death, Playback is the last novel completed by Raymond Chandler. As always, Chandler's writing style is first rate. Highly descriptive prose, engaging dialogue, imaginative situations and anecdotes, as well as interesting social commentary are present in abundance. Unfortunately, the plot itself is so very thin and poorly conceived, little can be done to save it.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Playback is the last Chandler's novel featuring the PI Philip Marlowe. The plot is far more simple than in previous Marlowe's cases and more emphasis is put in the atmosphere of the settings (a small and quited coastal village full of rich people).
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.
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