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Posted November 9, 2003
Playback: Easily Chandler's Weakest Novel.
Adapted from an old unproduced screenplay Chandler wrote, and published in the last year of his life when Chandler was struggling most with alcoholism, Playback is Chandler's weakest (and shortest) finished novel. Our protagonist Marlowe behaves out of character (prior to this book never becoming romantically entangled, as all characters in previous Chandler books are too corrupt for Marlowe to trust too much) and the plot is thinner than many of Chandler's other works. Playback also lacks the levels of depth, social criticism, and caustic wit present in his other novels. I tend to think of The Long Goodbye, Chandler's most mature work, as his last. I strongly recommend any previous Chandler book, particularly The Long Goodbye, and suggest you skip this one.
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