We've got him outnumbered; hope he can learn to like girly books.
As always MacDonald tells a good story. On the other hand of all the books in the Travis McGee series McGee is at his most anti social and misogynistic in this one. The story is the typical buddy gets killed; I have to avenge him; staple of adventure novels. The police officer who understands the way to investigate crimes is an interesting aside.
The professor in the Florida college who advises him on the gold statue is a nice touch. As is the story on the creation of a totally new way of life along the Mexican gulf coast. His opinion of the real estate in the greater LA area is amusing.
But now for the attitudes. For starters McGee is awfully condescending towards a good percentage of the people, cities, buildings, and systems on planet Earth. His overblown sense of rightness is especially apparent in his attitude towards women. He is highly judgmental about the sex lives of every woman who crosses his path. Yet in this book alone he manages to get himself into bed with five different women that he has no intention of pursuing a relationship with. Three of those women he assaults prior to falling into bed with them; evidently being slapped around really turned women on back in 1965. He also has no qualms about sleeping with women he thinks little of as human beings since he dissects them ruthlessly both before and after bedding them.
His torture of Alma Hitchens he is able to rationalize with no problem. After all the whole situation was her fault; poor Sam having no chance of retaining his moral center after having been seduced and tumbled by a beautiful third grade actress. Pity us poor men who can't be expected to resist doing anything we're asked to by a hot woman once we've had sex with her.
Also as in many of his pre-1970's works he is all atwitter concerning communist plots and conspiracies. Though his willingness to touch on the 1956 Hungarian revolution will provide an important reference to those unfamiliar will it.
Given all the negatives if you're able to skim over the 19th century attitudes towards women and sex MacDonald is a great writer. His mystery fiction works contain excellent information he's researched on tangential subjects to his books. This one got a four star rating from me despite those abhorrent attitudes and actions portrayed in this work; if not for them it would have earned five.
Spencer is his typical wisecracking, head cracking self in this one. Unlike his usual cases in this one Spencer takes on a neglected child. The time and interaction between the two of them are what the kid needs most after a lifetime of being ignored by both parents. Thankfully the amount of time devoted to Susan Silverman in this book is limited. The over the top affection everyone feels for her for no apparent reason; particularly Spencer, gets tiring. Hawk appears in his similarly one dimensional role that seems to be perfect for the genre; he's the perfect weapon. the climatic showdown scene in which he does what Spencer can't; do what has to be done is prototypical Hawk. If you like Spencer this is one of the best choices
This is one of the more complicated Spenser novels. Spenser cheats on Susan; develops feelings for another woman. The climatic scene was the one of the most complicated in the series. The setting is Los Angeles instead of Boston. There's no Hawk, Quirk, or Belsen. Though there is the requisite amount of humor this is one of the more serious Spenser novels. An excellent short book.