Stalking the tawdry neon wilderness of forties and fifties Los Angeles, Raymond Chandler's hard-drinking, wise-cracking Phillip Marlowe is one of the world's most famous fictional detectives.

Playback finds Marlowe mixing business with pleasure - getting paid to follow a mysterious and lovely red-head named Eleanor King. And wherever Miss King goes, trouble seems to follow. But she's easy on the eye and Marlowe's happy to do as he's told, all in the name of chivalry, of course. But one dead body later and what started out as a lazy afternoon's snooping soon becomes a deadly cocktail of blackmail, lies, mistaken identity - and murder...

Raymond Chandler was born in Chicago in 1888 and moved to England with his family when he was twelve. He attended Dulwich College, Alma Mater to some of the twentieth century's most renowned writers. Returning to America in 1912, he settled in California, worked in a number of jobs, and later married. It was during the Depression era that he seriously turned his hand to writing and his first published story appeared in the pulp magazine Black Mask in 1933, followed six years later by his first novel.

The Big Sleep introduced the world to Philip Marlowe, the often imitated but never-bettered hard-boiled private investigator. It is in Marlowe's long shadow that every fictional detective must stand - and under the influence of Raymond Chandler's addictive prose that every crime author must write.