Raymond Chandler (1888 – 1959)

OIPRaymond Thornton Chandler was an American novelist and screenwriter. In 1932, at age forty-four, Raymond Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Depression. His first short story, “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot”, was published in 1933 in Black Mask, a popular pulp magazine. His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939. In addition to his short stories, Chandler published just seven full novels during his lifetime (though an eighth in progress at his death was completed by Robert B. Parker). All but Playback have been realized into motion pictures, some several times. In the year before he died, he was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America. He died on March 26, 1959, in La Jolla, California. Chandler had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature, and is considered by many to be a founder, along with Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers, of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction. Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, along with Hammett’s Sam Spade, are considered by some to be synonymous with “private detective,” both having been played on screen by Humphrey Bogart, whom many considered to be the quintessential Marlowe. Some of Chandler’s novels are considered to be important literary works, and three are often considered to be masterpieces: Farewell, My Lovely (1940), The Little Sister (1949), and The Long Goodbye (1953). The Long Goodbye is praised within an anthology of American crime stories as “arguably the first book since Hammett’s The Glass Key, published more than twenty years earlier, to qualify as a serious and significant mainstream novel that just happened to possess elements of mystery”. (Source: Goodreads)

Raymond Chandler (1888 – 1959) Selected Bibliography and Spanish Titles

Novels: The Big Sleep (1939); Farewell, My Lovely (1940); The High Window (1942); The Lady in the Lake (1943); The Little Sister (1949); The Long Goodbye (1953); Playback (1958); and Poodle Springs (1959) – incomplete; completed by Robert B. Parker in 1989

Raymond Chandler at The New Thrilling Detective Web Site

Raymond Chandler at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Mike Grost on Raymond Chandler at A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection

However, as I discuss in my Raymond Chandler essay, “The Amateur Detective Just Won’t Do: Raymond Chandler and British Detective Fiction,” Chandler in fact was an admirer of two British detective novelists who sometimes have been dismissed as dull (“Humdrum” even), Freeman Wills Crofts, a major subject of my book Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery who recently has been reprinted by the British Library, and R. Austin Freeman, whom in Masters I dub the father of the so-called “Humdrums.” (The Passing Tramp)

Raymond Chandler’s Grudge Against British Mysteries, Reconsidered by Curtis Evans


(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Alfred A. Knopf (USA), 1939)

The Big Sleep (1939) is a hardboiled crime novel by Raymond Chandler, the first to feature the detective Philip Marlowe. It has been adapted for film twice, in 1946 and again in 1978. The story is set in Los Angeles. The story is noted for its complexity, with characters double-crossing one another and secrets being exposed throughout the narrative. The title is a euphemism for death; the final pages of the book refer to a rumination about “sleeping the big sleep”. In 1999, the book was voted 96th of Le Monde’s “100 Books of the Century”. In 2005, it was included in Time magazine’s “List of the 100 Best Novels”.

The Big Sleep, like most of Chandler’s novels, was written by what he called “cannibalizing” his short stories. Chandler would take stories he had already published in the pulp magazine Black Mask and rework them into a coherent novel. For The Big Sleep, the two main stories that form the core of the novel are “Killer in the Rain” (published in 1935) and “The Curtain” (published in 1936). Although the stories were independent and shared no characters, they had some similarities that made it logical to combine them. In both stories there is a powerful father who is distressed by his wayward daughter. Chandler merged the two fathers into a new character and did the same for the two daughters, resulting in General Sternwood and his wild daughter Carmen. Chandler also borrowed small parts of two other stories, “Finger Man” and “Mandarin’s Jade”. (Source: Wikipedia)

Book Description: Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood’s two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA’s seedy backstreets, Marlowe’s got his work cut out – and that’s before he stumbles over the first corpse . . (Source: Amazon)

The Big Sleep has been reviewed, among others, at Mysteries in Paradise, Mystery File, the crime segments, Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog, Past Offences, Bitter, Tea and Mystery, and Golden Age of Detection Wiki.

The World of Raymond Chandler and ‘The Big Sleep’

My take: Although my favourite Chandler’s book is The Long Goodbye, I have chosen The Big Sleep as the most representative of his novels and a good starting point to become acquainted with Chandler’s works.

Raymond Chandler (1888 – 1959) Selected Bibliography and Spanish Titles

A friend of mine has asked me if I could provide him the Spanish titles of Chandler’s work. For this reason, I repeat here my previous post, together with the titles in Spanish. The titles were taken from the Spanish editions by RBA Publishers,Todo Marlowe and Todos los cuentos; they may differ from other editions. 

Un amigo mío me ha preguntado si le podía proporcionar los títulos en español de la obra de Chandler. Por esta razón, repito aquí mi post anterior, junto con los títulos en español. Los títulos fueron tomadas de las ediciones en español de RBA Editores, Todo Marlowe y Todos los cuentos; que pueden diferir de otras ediciones.


  • The Big Sleep. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939; London: Hamish Hamilton, 1939. El sueño eterno
  • Farewell, My Lovely. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1940; London: Hamish Hamilton, 1940. Adiós, muñeca
  • The High Window. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1942; London: Hamish Hamilton, 1943. La ventana alta
  • The Lady in the Lake. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1943; London: Hamish Hamilton, 1944. La dama del lago
  • The Little Sister. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1949; Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1949. La hermana pequeña
  • The Long Goodbye. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1953; Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1954. El largo adiós
  • Playback. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1958; Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1958. Playback

Short Fiction

  • ‘Blackmailers Don’t Shoot’. Black Mask, December 1933 Los chantajistas no matan
  • ‘Smart-Aleck Kill’. Black Mask, July 1934. Pasarse de listo
  • ‘Finger Man’. Black Mask, October 1934. El chivato
  • ‘Killer in the Rain’. Black Mask, January 1935. Un asesino en la lluvia
  • ‘Nevada Gas’. Black Mask, June 1935. Gas de Nevada
  • ‘Spanish Blood’. Black Mask, November 1935. Sangre española
  • ‘Guns at Cyrano’s’. Black Mask, January 1936. Pistolas en Cyrano’s
  • ‘The Man Who Liked Dogs’. Black Mask, March 1936. El hombre al que le gustaban los perros
  • ‘Noon Street Nemesis’ (republished as ‘Pickup on Noon Street’). Detective Fiction Weekly, May 30, 1936. Recogida en la calle Noon
  • ‘Goldfish’. Black Mask, June 1936. Peces de colores
  • ‘The Curtain’. Black Mask, September 1936. Telón
  • ‘Try the Girl’. Black Mask, January 1937. Prueba con la chica
  • ‘Mandarin’s Jade’. Dime Detective Magazine, November 1937. El jade del mandarín
  • ‘Red Wind’. Dime Detective Magazine, January 1938. Viento rojo
  • ‘The King in Yellow’. Dime Detective Magazine, March 1938. El rey del amarillo
  • ‘Bay City Blues’. Dime Detective Magazine, June 1938. Los blues de Bay City
  • ‘The Lady in the Lake’. Dime Detective Magazine, January 1939. La dama del lago
  • ‘Pearls Are a Nuisance’. Dime Detective Magazine, April 1939. La perlas son una molestia
  • ‘Trouble Is My Business’. Dime Detective Magazine, August 1939. Mi negocio son los problemas
  • ‘I’ll Be Waiting’. Saturday Evening Post, October 14, 1939. Estaré esperando
  • ‘The Bronze Door’. Unknown Magazine, November 1939. La puerta de bronce
  • ‘No Crime in the Mountains’. Detective Story, September 1941. No hay crímenes en las montañas
  • ‘Professor Bingo’s Snuff’. Park East, June-August 1951; Go, June-July 1951. El rapé del profesor Bingo
  • ‘Marlowe Takes on the Syndicate’. London Daily Mail, April 6-10 1959, also published as ‘The Wrong Pidgeon’. Manhunt, February 1961. Reprinted as ‘The Pencil’, Argosy, September 1965; and “Philip Marlowe’s Last Case”, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 1962. El lápiz
  • ‘English Summer’. First published posthumously in The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler and English Summer: A Gothic Romance by Raymond Chandler, ed. Frank MacShane, The Ecco Press, New York, 1976. Verano inglés

Review: Killer In The Rain by Raymond Chandler

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Penguin Books 1966. First published by Hamish Hamilton, 1964. Paperback Format with an introduction by Philip Durham. ISBN: 0-14-010900-5. Pages : 429. 


As we can read in the Introduction by Philip Durham, when Raymond Chandler published his official collection of short stories under the title The Simple Art of Murder in 1950, only fifteen of the twenty-three short stories published during his life time, were included. Three of these eight were reprinted without his express permission. This volume contains the eight short stories that were excluded. They were originally published in pulp magazines between 1935 and 1941 and are among his finest.

This was because he felt that … in the process of writing … his novels, Chandler had borrowed, expanded, and extensively reworked plots, passages, and characters from these eight stories (cannibalized) (from Wikipedia). A substantial part of The Big Sleep was made from ‘The Curtain’, ‘Killer in the Rain’, as well as small passages from ‘Finger Man’. Farewell, My Lovely made extensive use of ‘The Man Who Loved Dogs’, ‘Try the Girl’ and ‘Mandarin’s Jade’. The Lady in the Lake relied on ‘Bay City Blues’, ‘The Lady in the Lake’ and ‘No Crime in the Mountains’. Besides, Farewell, My Lovely also used a small part from ‘Trouble Is My Business’; The High Window drew a small portion from ‘The King in Yellow’; and The Long Goodbye used a small bit from  ‘The Curtain’. Occasionally, he also borrowed from one short story to another.

These eight stories, with the name of the publication in which they originally appeared, are: ‘Killer in the Rain’ (Black Mask, January 1935); ‘The Man Who Liked Dogs’ (Black Mask, March 1936); ‘The Curtain’ (Black Mask, September 1936); ‘Try the Girl’ (Black Mask, January 1937); ‘Mandarin’s Jade’ (Dime Detective Magazine, November 1937); ‘Bay City Blues’ (Dime Detective Magazine, November 1937); ‘The Lady in the Lake’ (Dime Detective Magazine, January 1939) and ‘No Crime in the Mountains’ (Detective Story Magazine, September 1941).

And now, if you allow me, I’m going to finish my Chandler marathon immersed in the reading of these stories. Have a nice weekend.

Penguin (UK)

They are also available at Raymond Chandler: Collected Stories published by Everyman’s Library, which contains all of Chandler’s short fiction.

Asesino bajo la lluvia y otros relatos de Raymond Chandler

Según podemos leer en la introducción de Philip Durham, cuando Raymond Chandler publicó su colección oficial de relatos bajo el título El simple arte de matar en 1950, sólo quince de los veintitrés cuentos publicados durante su vida, fueron incluidos. Tres de estos ocho fueron reimpresos sin su permiso expreso. Este volumen contiene los ocho cuentos que fueron excluidos. Se publicaron originalmente en revistas pulp entre 1935 y 1941 y se encuentran entre los mejores.

Esto fue porque sentía que … en el proceso de escribir sus novelas …, Chandler había prestado, ampliado, y ampliamente reelaborado tramas, pasajes y personajes de estos ocho relatos (canibalizados) (de Wikipedia). Una parte sustancial de El sueño eterno se elabora a partir de ‘El telón’, ‘Asesino bajo la lluvia’, así como con algunos pasajes de ‘El confidente’. Adiós, muñeca utiliza partes de ‘El hombre que amaba a los perros’, ‘Prueba con la chica’ y ‘El jade del mandarín’. La dama del lago está basada en ‘Los blues de Bay City‘, ‘La dama del lago’ y ‘No hay crímenes en las montañas’. Además, Adiós, muñeca también usa parte de ‘Los problemas son mi negocio’; La ventana alta está sacada en parte de ‘El rey del amarillo’; y El largo adiós tiene fragmentos de ‘El telón’. De vez en cuando, él también tomó prestado de un cuento a otro.

Estos ocho relatos, con el nombre de la publicación en donde aparecieron originalmente, son: ‘Asesino bajo la lluvia’ (Black Mask, enero 1935); ‘‘El hombre que amaba a los perros’ (Black Mask, marzo 1936); ‘El telón’ (Black Mask, septiembre 1936); ‘Prueba con la chica’ (Black Mask, enero 1937); ‘El jade del mandarin’ (Dime Detective Magazine, noviembre 1937); ‘Los blues de Bay City’ (Dime Detective Magazine, noviembre 1937); ‘La dama del lago’ (Dime Detective Magazine, enero 1939) y ‘No hay crímenes en las montañas’ (Detective Story Magazine, septiembre 1941).

Y ahora, si me lo permiten, voy a terminar mi maratón Chandler inmerso en la lectura de estos cuentos. Que tengan un buen fin de semana.

Estos relatos están disponibles en Todos los cuentos de Raymond Chandler publicado por RBA, que recoge todas las historias cortas de Chandler.

La edición de Alianza, en la imagen, reúne sólo cuatro relatos: Asesino bajo la lluvia, 1935; Los blues de Bay City, 1938; El lápiz, 1960; y Peces de colores, 1936.

Review: Trouble Is My Business and Other Stories by Raymond Chandler

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Penguin, 1950. Reprinted 1983. Paperback format. The stories in this volume first appeared in various American magazines between 1933 and 1939. They were first issued in book form in the U.S.A. in 1946. ‘Trouble is my Business’ in a volume entitled Spanish Blood, the reminder in a volume entitled Red Wind, This is the first volume publication in Great Britain. ISBN: 0-1400-0741-5. Pages: 248.


In July 2010, Patty Abad kindly published the following note I wrote about Trouble Is My Business which I offer here:

When Patty Abbott asked me if I would care to contribute with a favourite book of mine to Friday’s Forgotten Books, I did not think twice. I’m also most grateful for this opportunity to re-read a long time favourite, an almost forgotten book on my bookshelves: Trouble is My Business by Raymond Chandler. Penguin 1950. 248 pages. ISBN: http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780140109801,00.html#reviews

This is a collection of short stories that were first published in various American magazines:

– “Trouble is My Business” (August 1939, Dime Detective Magazine)

– “Red Wind” (January 1938, Dime Detective Magazine)

– A non-detective story “I’ll Be Waiting” (October 14, 1939, Saturday Evening Post)

– “Goldfish” (June 1936, Black Mask),

– And “Guns at Cyrano’s” (January 1936, Black Mask)

My copy is dated in 1982 and I probably read it back in 1986. Each story does not provide only an idea of Chandler’s writing but it also raises our interest on each tale. They are not simple sketches of Chandler’s later masterpieces, but they hold their own rights.

I highly recommend all of them but if I have to highlight just one this will be “Red Wind” which is probably best known for its opening lines: “There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”

Red Wind opens with private-eye John Dalmas (in my copy, changed later to Marlowe), sitting in front of a glass of beer at a cocktail bar. There is only one other customer, besides the bartender, a drunkard playing checkers with his empty glasses of straight rye whiskey. The quietness of the place is interrupted when a dark guy rushes in asking for a lady. “Tall, pretty, brown hair, in a print bolero jacket over a blue crepe silk dress.” And not only Dalmas/Marlowe but the reader as well is shaken by this description. At this stage the drunkard swept a gun from somewhere and shot the dark guy. “So long, Waldo,” he said and slid towards the door. Dalmas/Marlowe regrets he did not have a gun. “I hadn’t thought I needed one to buy a glass of beer.”

I don’t want to give away more of the plot. If you have already read it I hope I have encouraged you to read it again. If you have not read it yet just go and get it, you will not be disappointed.

The Raymond Chandler Web Site: http://home.comcast.net/~mossrobert/

The original post is here.

Penguin (UK) The stories in this collection are Trouble Is My Business (Dime Detective, August 1939), Red Wind (Dime Detective, January 1938), I’ll Be Waiting (Saturday Evening Post, October 14, 1939), Goldfish (Black Mask, June 1936), and Guns at Cyrano’s (Black Mask, January 1936).

Vintage Crime / Black Lizard (US) The stories in this collection are Trouble Is My Business (Dime Detective, August 1939), Finger Man (Black Mask, October 1934), Goldfish (Black Mask, June 1936), and Red Wind (Dime Detective, January 1938).

Raymond Chandler’s short stories 

John Dalmas at The Thrilling Detective Web Site 

Ted Malvern/Ted Carmady 

Los problemas son mi negocio de Raymond Chandler

En julio de 2010, Patty Abbot publicó amablemente la nota que escribí sobre Trouble Is My Business que ofrezco aquí:

Cuando Patty Abbott me preguntó si no me importaría contribuir con uno de mis libros favoritos a Friday’s Forgotten Books, no me lo pensé dos veces. También le quedé muy agradecido por la oportunidad de volver a leer uno de mis libros favoritos de toda la vida, un libro que tenía casi olvidado en mi biblioteca: Trouble Is My Business, Penguin, 1950. 248 páginas. ISBN: http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780140109801,00.html#reviews

Se trata de una coleccion de relatos que fueron publicadas originalmente en varias revistas norteamericanas:

– “Los problemas son mi negocio” (agosto de 1939, Dime Detective Magazine)

– “Viento rojo” (enero de 1938, Dime Detective Magazine)

– Una historia no policíaca “Te estaré esperando” (14 de octubre de 1939, Saturday Evening Post)

“Peces de colores” (1936 junio Black Mask), y

– “Pistolas en Cyrano’s” (enero de 1936, Black Mask)

Mi ejemplar es de 1982 y probablemente lo leí por pimera vez en 1986. Cada historia no sólo nos proporciona una idea de la obra de Chandler, sino que además aumenta nuestro interés por cada cuento. No son simples bocetos de posteriores obras maestas de Chandler, sino que tienen derecho propio.

Les recomiendo todas, pero si tengo que destacar sólo una ésta sería Viento Rojo, que es probablemente más conocida por sus primeras líneas: “Esa noche soplaba un viento del desierto. Era uno de esos vientos de Santa Ana cálidos y secos que bajan por los puertos de montaña y te rizan el pelo y te hacen saltar los nervios y te causan picor en la piel. En noches como esa cada fiesta alcohólica termina en pelea. Pequeñas y mansas mujeres acarician el filo del cuchillo de trincahr y observan el cuello de sus maridos. Cualquier cosa puede pasar. Incluso puede que consigas una cerveza en un cocktail-bar.” (Mi traducción libre)

Red Wind comienza con el detective privado John Dalmas (en mi ejemplar, cambiado posteriormente a Marlowe), sentado delante de un vaso de cerveza en un bar de copas. Sólo hay otro cliente, además del camarero, un borracho que juega a las damas con los vasos vacíos de puro whiskey de centeno. La tranquilidad del lugar es interrumpida cuando un tipo de piel oscura entra corriendo preguntando por una dama. “Alta, guapa, cabello castaño, con una chaqueta bolero estampada sobre un vestido de seda en crepe azul.” Y no sólo Dalmas/Marlowe, también el lector queda impresionado por esa descripción. En ese momento el borracho sacó una pistola de algún sitio y le disparó al hombre de piel oscura. “Hasta luego, Waldo,” le dijo y se deslizó por la puerta. Dalmas/Marlowe lamenta no llevar un arma. “No había pensado que iba a necesitar una para pedir una jarra de cerveza.”

No quiero revelar más de la trama. Si ya lo han leído espero que les haya animado a leerlo de nuevo. Si no lo han leído todavía sólo tiene que ir a buscarlo, no van a sentirse decepcionados.

Pueden visitar el sitio web de Raymond Chandler en http://home.comcast.net/~mossrobert/

Aquí pueden ver mi entrada original.

RBA – Todos los cuentos de Raymond Chandler

Review: Playback by Raymond Chandler

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

In contribution to Rich Westwood’s #1958 book challenge

Penguin, 2011. Paperback format with an Introduction by Kathy Reichs. First published in 1958. ISBN: 978-0-2419-5625-0. Pages: 208. 

jacket image for Playback by Raymond Chandler - large versionThe action takes place a year and a half after the events narrated in The Long Goodbye. Philip Marlowe is hired by a lawyer who claims to be acting on behalf of a major New York law firm. All he has to do is follow a red-haired girl who is arriving at the train station without her realising she is being followed. Next, he must find out where she’s going to stay and then inform him. The girl, according to the note that comes with her photograph, is Eleanor King. Initially, Marlowe is reluctant to accept a case without knowing anything more, but he’s told that he isn’t asked to do anything wrong. Besides he receives some money to cover his expenses and two hundred and fifty dollars in advance.   

Once he’s identified the girl, Marlowe follows her to Esmeralda, a small coastal town near San Diego and rents the room next to her in Rancho Descansado. He discovers that she has registered as Betty Mayfield. With the help of a stethoscope, Marlowe can hear that she gets in touch by phone with a man named Larry Mitchell that will soon arrive to her room. From their conversation, Marlowe realises she’s being blackmailed. And as soon as Larry Mitchell leaves the room, Marlowe hears she’s packing up to leave. At that moment he decides to enter in her room.

As the story unfolds, Marlowe decides to turn down the case and help the young woman. She has moved to another hotel, but one night she shows up in Marlowe’s room and asks him for help. Larry Mitchell is lying on the floor of her room, he has been murdered. However, when Marlowe gets there the body has disappeared.

Playback is generally considered the weakest novel in the series, probably not without reason. Although for a better appreciation, it is necessary to recall perhaps the circumstances under which it was written. If my information is correct, Raymond Chandler begun its writing in 1953, shortly after the great success of which is probably his best book The Long Goodbye. He was 65 and the starting point was a script he wrote for Universal Studios around 1947 but was rejected and it was never made into a film. We can have access to the final draft of the script, dated in 1949, here. Despite being a short book, only 208 pages in my edition, it took him five years to complete it. During that time, Chandler’s wife, Cissy, died – she was eighteen years his senior, and he begun to travel between England and the States. He continued drinking heavily, had several love affairs with much younger women and attempted to commit suicide three times. In a sense, some of this is reflected in the book.

To be honest, I would lie if I say that I have enjoyed reading this novel. But despite all its flaws, I won’t speak evil of it. I’d just like to point out that I don’t think appropriate to choose this book to start reading Chandler for the first time. It is far better to leave it until the end and, in any case, always after having read before The Long Goodbye. I’d like to recommend you to read Sergio’s review at Tipping My Fedora, below, to help you decide whether to read it or not.

My rating: C (I liked it with a few reservations)

Playback has been reviewed at Tipping My Fedora (Sergio) and at the crime segments (NacyO).

Penguin (UK)

Vintage Crime / Black Lizard (US) 

The Only Surviving Recording of Raymond Chandler’s Voice, in a BBC Conversation with Ian Fleming

Playback de Raymond Chandler


La acción se desarrolla un año y medio después de los acontecimientos narrados en El largo adiós. Philip Marlowe es contratado por un abogado que afirma actuar en nombre de un importante bufete de abogados de Nueva York. Todo lo que tiene que hacer es seguir a una chica pelirroja que está llegando a la estación de tren sin que ella se de cuenta de que está siendo seguida. A continuación, tiene que averiguar dónde se va a alojar y luego informarle. La chica, de acuerdo con la nota que viene con su fotografía, es Eleanor King. Inicialmente, Marlowe es reacio a aceptar un caso sin saber nada más, pero le aseguran que no se le pide que haga nada malo. Además recibe algo de dinero para cubrir sus gastos, y doscientos cincuenta dólares por adelantado.

Una vez que ha identificado a la chica, Marlowe la sigue hasta Esmeralda, un pequeño pueblo costero cerca de San Diego y alquila la habitación junto a ella en Rancho Descansado. Descubre que se ha registrado como Betty Mayfield. Con la ayuda de un estetoscopio, Marlowe puede oír que se pone en contacto por teléfono con un hombre llamado Larry Mitchell, que llegará pronto a su habitación. De su conversación, Marlowe se da cuenta de que está siendo chantajeada. Y tan pronto como Larry Mitchell sale de la habitación, Marlowe oye que está haciendo las maletas para marcharse. En ese momento decide entrar en su habitación.

Conforme se desarrolla la historia, Marlowe decide rechazar el caso y ayudar a la joven. Ella se ha trasladado a otro hotel, pero una noche se presenta en la habitación de Marlowe y le pide su ayuda. Larry Mitchell se encuentra tumbado en el suelo de su habitación, ha sido asesinado. Sin embargo, cuando Marlowe llega hasta allí el cuerpo ha desaparecido.

Playback está generalmente considerada la novela más floja de la serie, probablemente no sin razón. Aunque para una mejor apreciación, es necesario recordar tal vez las circunstancias en que fue escrita. Si mi información es correcta, Raymond Chandler comenzó su redacción en 1953, poco después del gran éxito del que es probablemente su mejor libro El largo adiós. Tenía 65 años y el punto de partida fue un guión que escribió alrededor de 1947 para los estudios Universal, pero fue rechazado y nunca fue llevado al cine. Podemos tener acceso a la versión final del guión, fechada en 1949, aquí. A pesar de ser un libro corto, sólo 208 páginas en mi edición, tardó cinco años en terminarlo. Durante ese período de tiempo, la esposa de Chandler, Cissy murió – ella tenía dieciocho años más que él, e inició una vida itinerante entre Inglaterra y los Estados Unidos. Continuó bebiendo mucho, tuvo varios romances con mujeres mucho más jóvenes e intentó suicidarse tres veces. En cierto sentido, algo de esto se refleja en el libro.

Para ser honesto, yo mentiría si digo que he disfrutado con la lectura de esta novela. Pero a pesar de todos sus defectos, no voy a hablar mal de ella. Sólo me gustaría señalar que no creo apropiado elegir este libro para empezar a leer a Chandler por primera vez. Es mucho mejor dejarlo hasta el final y, en cualquier caso, siempre después de haber leído antes El largo adiós. Me gustaría recomendarles que lean el comentario de Sergio en Tipping Mi Fedora para ayudarles a decidir si leerlo o no.

Mi valoración: C (Me gustó con algunas reservas)

RBA Serie Negra: Todo Marlowe