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This is a novel mostly written by Robert Parker, drawing on four chapters started by Raymond Chandler at the end of his life. If you are looking for a great Marlowe story done just like the early ones, you will be disappointed. If you are glad to have one more chance to be with Marlowe, I think you will be pleased with the experience.
The story is a natural for Parker, because it involves Marlowe marrying a rich society woman on the spur of the moment. Having gotten together, they both realize that not all is right in this relationship. 'Can't live with him, can't live without him' could have been the title. The relationship raises a lot of the kinds of issues that Parker handles well in the Spenser stories between Spenser and Susan.
Marlowe keeps at his detective work, and we meet a whole cast of hard characters portrayed with wonderfully terse dialogue and understatement. Although not as tough as a Chandler, it is certainly tough in an appealing Parkerish way.
Having grown up in Southern California in the 1950s, I could relate to the tale that Chandler/Parker have woven. It seemed to fit my memory of those times, and had a sort of smoky, boozy nostalgia attached to it.
Give it a try. The first five chapters are only about 26 pages. You'll have a good sense whether or not you want to read more. I know I could not have possibly put it down at that point. I was hooked. Maybe you will be, too. I hope it will be irresistible for you as well.
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VINE VOICEon 7 December 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This review concerns the one disc audio play starring Toby Stephens.

Stephens obviously has great fun playing the character of Philip Marlowe and it is understandable that a successful series of these plays would lead to Raymond Chandler's unfinished Poodle Springs being tackled. Of course the story itself was finished by Robert Parker and this is what this adaptation is based upon.

It's by no means a travesty of the Marlowe legacy but with all the best will in the world it falls short of the character at his best. This audio version clocks in at about an hour and whilst it is sharp and snappy and keeps a decent pace it's ultimately a little lightweight.

Although the usual "atmosphere" is prevalent the story itself just isn't good enough and you may well find yourself correctly guessing the twists before you hear them.

One for the completists only I think.
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VINE VOICEon 8 March 2012
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"Poodle Springs" (on audio CD) is exactly what you would expect of a Philip Marlowe story from Raymond Chandler (who started it) and Robert B. Parker (who finished it). The voice is the typical Philip Marlowe voice (read by Toby Stephens), the story is the typical Philip Marlowe story. It's easy to visualise the story throughout, which is always a sign of a well-written and well-read story. This could easily be adapted for television (if it hasn't already been).

It's an easy listen, it's undemanding, it's entertaining. For those who have heard or seen Philip Marlowe stories before, this is exactly what you would expect - the slightly down at heel detective doing his thing. You won't be disappointed, but you also won't be surprised. A full-cast recording (always a bonus) from BBC Radio 4. Recommended.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a novel, Poodle Springs is rather unsatisfactory, the join where the four chapters Raymond Chandler managed to finished before his death end and the remainder where Robert B. Parker took up his pen three decades later all too easily detectable as the latter's attempt to pastiche Chandler's style gave way to his own distinctive voice. As a radio adaptation it works rather better because, with much of the prose stripped away aside from Philip Marlowe's narration, it's all about the plot. That's not always a good thing in a one hour adaptation of a novel, with Robin Wright's adaptation often assuming a breakneck pacing that barely allows time for the characters to catch their breath and tell us a little about themselves. Thus Marlowe's problems adjusting to being one of the idle rich having married an heiress are no longer an overriding theme that helps explain his more idealistically romantic notions towards the bigamist he's been hired to track down and the first wife who is the genuine love of the latter's life. It also tends to turn some of the supporting characters into ciphers - thankfully for the most part well acted ones - but there's enough blackmail, betrayal, deceit, lies, violence and mental instability in its tale of gambling debts, false identities and secret lives to hold the attention, and Toby Stephens makes for a very impressive Marlowe who never feels like a pastiche or an imitation even if the few action scenes are a tad clumsy. Doubling the running time might have given this one a bit more depth, but in a way it's a satisfying return to pulp fiction's radio days of the 40s and 50s that works surprisingly well on its own terms.
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VINE VOICEon 23 November 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This 1 hour CD gets a few people bumped off before it's over! Philip Marlowe's cool reply to many questions and situations is "uh hu" - so listen out for these! He's been married to a rich heiress for nearly a month and on the marriage stakes he is a prize berk! His wife is trying to make a go of it -but Marlowe just wants to get back to solving crimes. You have to ask yourself why he got married -and his wife tries to help him with solving the crimes -he just does not know how lucky he is.
Anyway, he is asked by a geezer called "Lippy" to get $100,000 from some gambler who left an IOU.
The gambler Mr Victor/Mr Valentine -what's his real name? -is involved with 2 women -one rich and another just a "nice girl"
Marlowe gets himself embroiled in finding 2 murders -he calls the cops in both cases -and they thank him by throwing him in the slammer for the second one.
The gambler's rich wife has a dad - Mr Blackstone -who also seems to have a murky past -but will do anything for his daughter -even though he thinks Victor/Valentine is no good for his little girl.
The story rolls along to a final crescendo to the killer being revealed and more people getting bumped off.
Marlowe and his missus make up - but how long will it last before he wants to solve another case??
This CD is very enjoyable and is over far too quickly. I have listened to it a few times and I think you will enjoy it too!
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Hard bitten noir, meets BBC Radio workshop production values, as the smell of stale cigars, Rye whiskey, sticky heat and musk, whiff from the speakers. The terse, tense dialogue echoes from the multi plied sounds, as Marlowe is played to the T in a Bogart shakedown, throws acid comments on a weary wise world.

Marriage, gambling and the life of the rich ripple with the meanstreets of masculinity, all played for full effect. The result is an hour of immersion in a non metro sexual world, depicting a man writhing within a marriage, where the woman controls the potential means of production, and the tough guy feels a needs to become double alpha, just to keep her affection.

The plot unfolds around gambling on the West Coast and a small snippet of Marlowe is provided, with the full noir cynical treatment. He ranges a caustic eye on the world around him, and provides a hilarious take on a culture of manners.

If you can sit still for an hour, or wear headphones this will create the pictures in your head, Hollywood would die for, so for all those who can contemplate the world around them then dive in. For the others then just wait for the general release.
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VINE VOICEon 5 December 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a simpler story than other Chandler's I have listened to, such as The Lady in the Lake (Classic Chandler), because the author died without finishing it. Robert B. Parker took up the reins, and the resulting story is satisfying, but leaves you wishing that Chandler had fleshed it out a bit more.

In a good full-cast dramatisation, Toby Stephens (well-known to BBC audio-book listeners) turns in an excellent Humphrey Bogart style characterisation, and the rest of cast (there aren't that many of them) all do sterling work to realise their very brief performances: this totals less than 1 hour compared with a typical 2 or 3 disc audiobook of other BBC titles.

There are the usual highly-stylised dialogue and interactions, but nowhere near as much "meat" on the bones of the plot. Marlowe is recently-married, and restless, so he is happy to get involved when he is dragged into chasing down a runaway who owes money to the wrong people. Before you reach the end, a few people have died, and others have proven to be more than they seemed. That's classic Marlowe material and method. I just would have liked to have savoured a bit more of it.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Poodle springs is the last in the Philip Marlowe series, written by Raymond Chandler. He died halfway through writing the novel, so it was subsequently finished from his notes by another author.

Chandler defined the hardbitten American private detective with Marlowe, providing rich characterisations and complicated plots mixed with tough streetwise dialogue and a ready sarcastic wit. Hi novels were highly enjoyable pieces. The recent radio dramatisations starring Toby Stephens as Marlowe have stuck reasonably faithfully to the text and captured the feel and style of the books. This is no exception. Stephens is excellent as Marlowe, putting over his world weary edge and dark cynicism, while managing to portray the compassion, intelligence and almost heroic nature of the man. It's an excellent portrayal.

4 stars in all
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VINE VOICEon 18 April 2012
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Although I enjoyed my time with Poodle Springs I couldn't personally look past many of it's short comings. I haven't read the original novel so I don't know whether my issues stem from the book, from a slightly shoddy adaptation or from the medium of the 1 hr radio drama (which necessitates that much is left out).
I don't want to spoil it for you if you are interested in picking it up, so I'll try to be vague:
The killer doesn't appear to have any motivation, we are told by other characters that they wanted certain things to happen in the past, but then it is revealed that they have killed to prevent these very same things happening and there is no explanation for their murderous change of mind.
Also, the 2nd murder is pointless. A creditor is killed when it is clearly established that the killer had the financial means to pay them off. Worst of all is the relationship between Marlow and his wife which breaks down over the course of the play before the inevitable epilogue which leaves them happy to be back together. They learn nothing and do not resolve any of the issues that earlier had them file for divorce. They do not even resolve to accept their differences and commit to work to find a way to stay together. They just suddenly from hating their marriage to getting back together. It's shoddy & threw me out of the story completely.
The dialog is zippy and fun and I think it's a pretty good portrayal of Chandler's iconic detective, it's just not a very well told story.
I would avoid this if it is your first or second Raymond Chandler radio dramatisation, but I guess if you're in love with this BBC radio series then you should be fine. But I doubt it will be a title that you treasure.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The idea of creating a new Philip Marlowe story from Raymond Chandler's last unfinished work was a risky one. Chandler himself famously tired of his creation and admitted several times (for example during shooting of "The Big Sleep" movie starring Bogart) that his plots were too twisty and complex for even him to follow! So, completing an unfinished one for him is always likely to be fraught with the possibility of failing!

So did Robert B. Parker (who, in 1989, completed the unfinished manuscript of Poodle Springs) fail? No, he did not. He managed to pull off the style of Chandler very well. He managed snappy taut dialogue and a storyline that Chandler would probably have been pleased with (RC was never proud of his Marlowe stories, so we're told, so 'pleased' would be the best to hope for!).

The cast headed by Toby Stephens again as the lead, superb as before, do a great job in this dramatisation and as usual for this series, the sense of time and place is spot on. Just one slip that really, really grates. Marlowe uses the southern British pronunciation (long aaaaah) of the name "Sandra" at one point. Something Marlow would never have done in a million years. Silly mistake, but the only one I heard in the whole production.

Marlowe has married a rich heiress and is living the idle life with her at Poodle Springs. But, it's not enough. Marlowe wants to be his own man. Whilst out looking for a new office close to his gilded cage, he is approached by a client: The proprietor of an illegal gambling den needs him to find a punter who left an IOU for a whole lot of money, but now can't be found. Seems like a simple, even an easy, job - but this is Chandler land......

So, it's pretty darn good, but something is not quite the same. Maybe it's too self concious, maybe it plays with a tinge of parody, maybe one can sense the difference between the unfinished Chandler and the new Parker segments? I can't put my finger on it, but it's not quite there - almost, but not quite.

It's entirely possible that it's something as simple as non-familiarity. After all, pretty much all the original stories are familiar in some way, from having read them or from films or TV adaptations. Maybe this gives them extra resonance that this one lacks. Perhaps I'll listen to this again in a couple of years and it will seem as good as the originals.

Anyway, respect to all involved, it's pretty damn good, but only four stars, most likely because it lacks the true cigarette stained patina of age one expects of Marlowe?

Alan T
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