Most helpful positive review
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Time has marched on
on 15 April 2012
The last and least known Marlowe. Most definitely the easiest plot to follow.
An overriding melancholy, as Marlowe, like Chandler, shows his age. It is 20 years since 'The Big Sleep'. 'Playback' reflects many social changes in this period. Chandler was 70 when he wrote this. He seems to struggle with the extent of the liberalisation that has occurred and how to place Marlowe in this environment.
This is especially true with the description of women. One minute a woman like Vivian Sternwood gave off an erotic chage with a scratch of her knee, but 'Nowadays, she's in the bed while you're struggling with your collar-button'.
After debuting as a 'hard-nose', turning into a 'shop-soiled Galahad', we now have a batchelor pining over the temps perdu. The young lovers, Jack and Lucille, with the symbolic 'unpretentious diamond ring', feature disproportionately as a counterpoint to Marlowe's own batchelor future.
Much more detective 'tradecraft' in this book. It's a very good read but it doesn't hit the heights.
It almost gets away with the idea of the sad lonely PI until Chandler 'bottles it' at the end. As a reader, I felt that reading 'Playback' was rather like 'completing the set' and, in truth, it felt like Chandler was doing the same.