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Playback (Vintage Crime) Paperback – 1 Dec 1991

3.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Dec 1991
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Product details

  • Paperback: 166 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition (1 Dec. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394757661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394757667
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,224,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

" Raymond Chandler is a master." --"The New York Times"
"
"" [Chandler] wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered." --"The New Yorker
"" Chandler seems to have created the culminating American hero: wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical and rebellious." --Robert B. Parker, "The New York Times Book Review
"" Philip Marlowe remains the quintessential urban private eye." --"Los Angeles Times
"
" Nobody can write like Chandler on his home turf, not even Faulkner. . . . An original. . . . A great artist." -- "The Boston Book Review
"
" Raymond Chandler was one of the finest prose writers of the twentieth century. . . . Age does not wither Chandler' s prose. . . . He wrote like an angel." --"Literary Review
"
" [T]he prose rises to heights of unselfconscious eloquence, and we realize with a jolt of excitement that we are in the presence of not a mere action tale teller, but a stylist, a writer with a vision." --Joyce Carol Oates, "The New York Review of Books
"" Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence." -- Ross Macdonald
"
"" Raymond Chandler is a star of the first magnitude." --Erle Stanley Gardner
"
"" Raymond Chandler invented a new way of talking about America, and America has never looked the same to us since." --Paul Auster
" [Chandler]' s the perfect novelist for our times. He takes us into a different world, a world that' s like ours, but isn' t. " --Carolyn See
"
"

"Raymond Chandler is a master." --"The New York Times"
"
" [Chandler] wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered. --"The New Yorker
" Chandler seems to have created the culminating American hero: wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical and rebellious. --Robert B. Parker, "The New York Times Book Review
" Philip Marlowe remains the quintessential urban private eye. --"Los Angeles Times
"
Nobody can write like Chandler on his home turf, not even Faulkner. . . . An original. . . . A great artist. "The Boston Book Review
"
Raymond Chandler was one of the finest prose writers of the twentieth century. . . . Age does not wither Chandler s prose. . . . He wrote like an angel. --"Literary Review
"
[T]he prose rises to heights of unselfconscious eloquence, and we realize with a jolt of excitement that we are in the presence of not a mere action tale teller, but a stylist, a writer with a vision. --Joyce Carol Oates, "The New York Review of Books
" Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence. Ross Macdonald
"
" Raymond Chandler is a star of the first magnitude. --Erle Stanley Gardner
"
" Raymond Chandler invented a new way of talking about America, and America has never looked the same to us since. --Paul Auster
[Chandler] s the perfect novelist for our times. He takes us into a different world, a world that s like ours, but isn t. --Carolyn See
"
""

Review

'Anything Chandler writes about grips the mind from the [start].' (The Daily Telegraph)

'One of the greatest crime writers, who set standards others still try to attain.' (The Sunday Times)

'Chandler is an original stylist, creator of a character as immortal as Sherlock Holmes.' (Anthony Burgess) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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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By T. Bently VINE VOICE on 21 April 2012
Format: 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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By Martin Turner HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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