Monday, March 2, 2009
Playback by Raymond Chandler (17/81)
C1958 166pages 3stars
Category: Hardboiled / Noir
One thing I love about our 999 Challenge is when fellow LTers recommend books to me. Playback was a recommendation from jonesli and we agreed to read it in tandem. I am a huge fan of The Big Sleep, Chandler’s first novel, so I thought it was a nice bookend to read his last novel.
In Playback we find Marlowe tailing a redhead. A mysterious woman who seems to go by many names, the most common being Betty Mayfield. All he knows is that Betty’s being blackmailed though she won’t tell him what for. Being Marlowe, he is compelled to help her out of a jam. It’s a standard hardboiled tale - along the way there’s a few fisticuffs, a body here and there and of course, one of Chandler’s badly written love scenes. I don’t believe it is his best work, it seems too choppy for my tastes. I’ve read The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler and to me, Playback seems like those fragments, a bit unpolished. As if he neglected to go over his rough draft one last time. I am glad to have read it, because I do eventually plan to finish out all of Chandler’s body of work.
"Guns never solve anything," I said. "They are just a fast curtain to a bad second act."
"Well, what do you know," she drawled. "A dick with scruples. Tell it to the seagulls, buster. On me it's just confetti."