Betty Mayfield is blond and beautiful and has just been found guilty of murdering her husband. But when the jundge realizes the jury is terrified of her father-in-law--the man who owns everything in this small North Carolina town--he overturns the verdict. Her father-in-law swears vengeance, and Betty flees. Seeking a new life, she meets Larry Mitchell, a brash but charming gigolo, on the train to Vancouver. He brings her to the Royal Vancouver Hotel, where she checks into a room beneath the penthouse of wealthy playboy Clark Brandon, who takes her under his wing. When Mitchell's body turns up on Betty's balcony, jaded inspector Jeff Killaine is assigned to the case, but finds himself falling for Betty. Did she do it, or was she framed? This graphic novel presents a heart-pounding tale of betrayal, blackmail, and murder that will take you to the edge of your seat on a ride through Raymond Chandler's last thriller.
Chandler's 1948 screenplay was presumed lost until its rediscovery in Universal Studios' archives in the 1980s, although the author had adapted it into a Philip Marlowe novel in the meantime. More recently, a French publisher adapted it into a graphic novel that is now being presented in English for the first time. While the story has down the requisite cynicism, acerbic humor and casual violence of film noir, it lacks the compelling plots and timeless characters of the author's classic scripts. A whodunit centering on Betty Mayfield, a beautiful, doomed woman on the run from a troubled past, Playback starts promisingly enough with tough, brisk dialogue and the unusual Vancouver setting. Yet by the third act the plot is bogged down by its own dejected heroine, as Betty's permanent air of defeat proves more tiring than tragic. Despite Philippe Garnier's assertion in his introduction that the script was passed over due to the vicissitudes of the studio system, it's possible that an unrelenting gloom was the real culprit. Ayroles's art employs a stiff, angular woodblocklike style that does little to capture the dark eddies of Chandler's tale.