Stalking the tawdry neon wilderness of forties and fifties Los Angeles, Raymond Chandler's hard-drinking, wise-cracking Phillip Marlowe is one of the world's most famous fictional detectives.
Playback finds Marlowe mixing business with pleasure - getting paid to follow a mysterious and lovely red-head named Eleanor King. And wherever Miss King goes, trouble seems to follow. But she's easy on the eye and Marlowe's happy to do as he's told, all in the name of chivalry, of course. But one dead body later and what started out as a lazy afternoon's snooping soon becomes a deadly cocktail of blackmail, lies, mistaken identity - and murder...
Raymond Chandler was born in Chicago in 1888 and moved to England with his family when he was twelve. He attended Dulwich College, Alma Mater to some of the twentieth century's most renowned writers. Returning to America in 1912, he settled in California, worked in a number of jobs, and later married. It was during the Depression era that he seriously turned his hand to writing and his first published story appeared in the pulp magazine Black Mask in 1933, followed six years later by his first novel.
The Big Sleep introduced the world to Philip Marlowe, the often imitated but never-bettered hard-boiled private investigator. It is in Marlowe's long shadow that every fictional detective must stand - and under the influence of Raymond Chandler's addictive prose that every crime author must write.
©1958 Raymond Chandler (P)2014 Audible, Ltd.
"Anything Chandler writes about grips the mind from the first sentence." (Daily Telegraph)
"One of the greatest crime writers, who set standards others still try to attain." (Sunday Times)
"Chandler is an original stylist, creator of a character as immortal as Sherlock Holmes." (Anthony Burgess)
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"New to Chandler? End here. Don't start here."
Not my favorite Chandler. Actually, my least favorite Chandler novel. However, since almost everything else he has written deserves to be carved on a tablet and made into a Noir religion, I guess saying this one doesn't rate well against his other masterpieces isn't saying much.
I think part of my disappointment with this novel is it just seems hard when it should be easy and easy when it should be hard. Maybe part of my problem with it was Chandler just seemed tired of L.A. and tired of Marlowe. He exports Marlowe into a new town (Esmerelda, aka La Jolla) but it all just doesn't work. I ended up not caring much about Marlowe or the dame or the book. Which is sad because I read most of this damn book sitting in a San Diego hotel's basement laundry. If there were EVER a place to enjoy 'Playback' THAT would have been it. Alas, no.
Anyway, if you are new to Chandler end here, don't start here. Go read:
The Big Sleep (1939)
Farewell, My Lovely (1940)
The High Window (1942)
The Lady in the Lake (1943)
The Little Sister (1949)
Trouble is my Business
The Long Goodbye (1953)
Any of those will give you more bang for you buck.
Not sure what happened with this last one. It's almost like he wasn't even the author of the first quarter of the book. The style is noticeably different, lacking all of Marlowe's trademark perspective. It's odd, to say the least. Sadly, I can't recommend this one. The rest are great.
"Ray Porter reads this wonderfully!"
I am a long-time fan of Chandler's work. This book was a little on the short side, but still good. Ray Porter's reading of the book really brought the story to life!
"Marlow's swan song."
Not the best but still good. I'd like to think our man had some happiness.
Another terrific Marlow novel, and Ray Porter is great and should read all audiobooks (unless it calls for a dame).
The series has to be read in order, both because Marlowe is mellower here than his initial hard-boiled persona, as well as that the ending needs the plot of the previous book for context. Much of the action is set between Los Angeles and San Diego, so I found it truly fascinating passing through that exact area on the train as I listened.
"Porter was born to "be" Marlowe!"
The Porter-Marlowe duo is, as it were, serendipitous. No better match may be found between prose and prosodist.
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