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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sharp, witty, stylish novel.
Philip Marlowe rousted from his bed, by 'Clyde Umney, the lawyer', finds himself dispatched to meet the San Diego train, to follow a melancholy redhead; armed with a general description and his fees been paid up front, courtesy of a snobby blonde secretary.
It doesn't take Marlowe long to discover that the redheads in trouble, and the ever chivalrous Marlowe gives...
Published on 21 Nov 2001

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chandler, but not as we know him
I'm a big Chandler fan, have taught The Big Sleep as a text at A level and generally think he's a great writer with a flair for creating an authentic environment for his authentic characters to run around in and get up to mischief.

Playback just doesn't quite pass muster in these terms. The environments are still authentic but somehow not brought to life in...
Published on 10 July 2009 by P. A. Irving


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sharp, witty, stylish novel., 21 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Playback (Paperback)
Philip Marlowe rousted from his bed, by 'Clyde Umney, the lawyer', finds himself dispatched to meet the San Diego train, to follow a melancholy redhead; armed with a general description and his fees been paid up front, courtesy of a snobby blonde secretary.
It doesn't take Marlowe long to discover that the redheads in trouble, and the ever chivalrous Marlowe gives her a helping hand, as he try's to figure out why he's been hired to follow her, and why she's in a jam. As he digs into the case Marlowe uncovers a labyrinth of blackmailers, a body that moves, bitter rich old men, an arrogant PI, a gigolo, a psychopath, a racketeer, decent policemen and disaffected low life's. Bad girls and one-nightstands, he gets the Snobby blonde with the wining line, 'what are you doing tonight? And don't tell me you've got a date with four sailors again?'
The novel leaves you wondering how Marlowe ever makes a living when he spends most of his time either giving money back or refusing it.
It's a wonderfully distilled story, sharp and to the point. Although not his greatest work Chandler still gives you the usual superb characterisations, dialogue, wit and style, providing a very lucid feeling of America mid-twentieths century.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chandler, but not as we know him, 10 July 2009
By 
P. A. Irving (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Playback (Paperback)
I'm a big Chandler fan, have taught The Big Sleep as a text at A level and generally think he's a great writer with a flair for creating an authentic environment for his authentic characters to run around in and get up to mischief.

Playback just doesn't quite pass muster in these terms. The environments are still authentic but somehow not brought to life in the same way. The characters are shallower somehow; they seem almost like caricatures of hardboiled days gone by. It feels like he's forcing it. Where novels like The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye et al seem to unfold effortlessly around Philip Marlowe's everyman, in Playback it all seems to be being pushed through. There's less a sense of being involved in something and more of chasing something that doesn't quite ever get captured.

Still worth a read if you're a fan of the genre, of Chandler, or just of a good book, but not on a par with the mastery of his earlier novels. Marlowe himself says halfway through the book that he hopes he might wake up knowing what the hell he's supposed to be doing; I couldn't help wonder if Chandler had thought the same thing while writing it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philip Marlowe�s existential wanderings in Esmeralda, 22 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Playback (Paperback)
Playback isn't an ideal introduction into Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels. In fact the final chapter will only be understood by people who have previously read The Long Goodbye.
Very little actually happens in Playback. There's only one murder and very little fighting. Marlowe spends most of the novel just trying to figure out exactly what he's supposed to be doing. Marlowe eventually cracks a mystery, but to satisfy his own curiosity, not on the instructions of his client.
Marlowe is more reflective than ever and there are some wonderful meditations.
This isn't a detective novel, it's a novel featuring a detective. The mystery is not the key element of this book, rather it is a meditation on the power structures of a wealthy small town.
Chandler fanatics talk about Playback with a hushed reverence. Read it and you gain access to Marlowe's soul. Or is it Raymond Chandler?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Playback- Whets the Appetite for More Of the Same., 11 Oct 2013
By 
Glenn Cook (South Cave, near Hull UK) - See all my reviews
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I'm new to this series and this was my first hearing of a Raymond Chandler novel.
It' just one CD long and dramatised so makes a great listen in the car.

Other reviewers will have given you the lowdown on the story and plot so I won't go into that -others have been there before.

It is entertaining pure and simple.

True it's not a murder mystery as such, and not what I was expecting but my, it did entertain, spoken by Philip Marlow in the first person it really rattles along taking you with it like the train journey portrayed within the story.

Well narrated and presented this certainly made me want to seek out more in the series and, if the other reviwers are to be belived this episode although not considered the best is still dam good.

As stimulating as a strong cup of 'Joe' in the morning after a heavy night before.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short thriller, 21 April 2012
By 
T. Bently "tbently" (Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Playback (Paperback)
Playback is, by far, Raymond Chandler's shortest novel and can almost be read as a kind of postscript to the much thicker The Long Goodbye, or a sort of love-letter (or farewell) to his fictional detective Philip Marlowe.

The plot is paper-thin and doesn't make much sense. However, this doesn't seem to matter very much in this, or any other Chandler thriller. Characterisation, wit and dialogue are all razor-sharp and the author paints a wholly evocative picture of Californian life, paying as much attention to trendy restaurants overlooking the ocean as to a back alley shack where the hotel parking attendant lives.

Chandler wrote Playback right at the end of his life and it is as if he is paying tribute to his chief character. For once, the twist in the tale is a happy ending. P.I. Marlowe doesn't get hit on the head or drugged as much as usual and in the last sentence, the air 'is full of music', blocking out the sound of the phone ringing with a call from an angry client.

Farewell, Philip Marlowe. You were much loved.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An unfinished work - beware., 12 Jun 2010
By 
This review is from: Playback (Paperback)
Nowhere in this edition of Playback does it say what it should: that this is an unfinished piece of work.

I understand it was published before Chandler's death, and was therefore considered complete by the author, but Playback is nowhere near the standard Chandler sets in his previous six Marlowe novels.

The writing is lightweight and weak - almost a reversion to the Black Mask pulp fiction Chandler wrote in the 1930s. He struggles to find a place for Marlowe in the late 1950s - the formerly chaste knight is suddenly Don Draper on heat. And the denouement is ridiculous in the extreme, not least because it flagrantly contradicts the perfect ending of the Long Goodbye. It's almost like reading a humourless pastiche of Chandler rather than the real deal.

Possibly the only highlight of this book for me was reading the line "he draws a lot of water in this town", which is liberated and used in the Coen Brothers' film The Big Lebowski (as is the brother shamus Marlowe saves towards the end).

For anyone wanting more Chandler after reading The Long Goodbye, I'd point them towards Robert Altman's early-70s Hollywood take on the novel, which sends Marlowe up brilliantly. In Playback, Chandler does it unintentionally by putting out a pot-boiler that doesn't deserve his name on the cover - or Marlowe's name after it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marlowe's Swan Song, 5 Dec 2008
By 
Martin Turner "Martin Turner" (Marlcliff, Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Playback (Paperback)
Although Chandler did begin another Philip Marlowe novel, this is the last one he completed, and is very much the swan song for his iconic detective who possesses all of the qualities he needs for the job, but is simply the wrong kind of person to be doing it. This is what defines Marlowe, and sets him apart from his predecessor Sam Spade, and even from other notables such as Holmes, Wimsey and Poirrot.

It's the swan song in a number of ways. Marlowe finally does get the girl - not once, but three times. The ending is as unexpected as any of the novels, but this time it is unexpected about him personally, rather than just about one of his cases. It's also a novel set in a different world from the sleazy LA he generally inhabits. Esmerelda is a kinder, more honest America, where the local police are straight-up, where people volunteer good information without having to be tricked or have it dragged out of them, and where even the bad guys have good qualities. During the Long Goodbye we saw gradually more and more involvement between Marlowe and his cases. The legendary detachment has worn thin. Marlowe's conscience increasingly gets the better of his need to earn a living, even though his rates have gone up (it's now $50 a day, or $75 to get shot at).

This is also the only story that really turns on the outcome of a previous one, and it's the only one which directly contradicts one. The Long Goodbye ends with "I never saw any of them again -- except the cops. No way has yet been invented to say good-bye to them." But the final implication of Playback directly refutes this.

This is arguably the weakest of the seven, but, equally, it's not one to miss. All the others leave you wanting more. This one completes the set.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Playback, 4 Jun 2014
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What I wanted was an unabridged audiobook of a Chandler novel. Your website did not make clear that this was a one disc dramatization, which is OK but no good for frequent long drives, so I am very disappointed. Don't you have any unabridged Chandler books?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best, but still good, 10 Jun 2013
This was Chandler's last Marlowe book, and I think it ties the series up. Without giving too much away, there's a genuine happy ending where Marlowe some happiness in his personal life. The plot, a little thin, but it still provided enough twists and turns to you through and the prose are as always very good.
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Playback by Raymond Chandler (Paperback - 6 July 2006)
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