Special thanks to Sasha, Stacy and Stef for sharing the Audible experience with me and being the best of company during my recovery.
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.
Spenser's on campus in 1973 when one investigation leads to his being involved in a bogus murder charge against a coed as her only advocate and protector. The introductory novel of the series was a breath of fresh air at the time, and this one stands up as an excellent example of Spenser's best. It's also the one pre Susan Spenser novel and that alone would elevate it. This one however stands on it's own; the portrait of Terri's wealthy parents is the snapshot of the era. As are the professor and Terri's wannabe badass boyfriend. It's not a Spenser that's recognizable to those more familiar with his later works socially as he has sex with a mother and daughter in less than 24 hours. Iris Milford is another great character and it's interesting to watch Spenser and Quirk stand toe-to-toe ready to go. Even with a subpar narrator this one is a five star listen.
A Hollywood sex symbol Lysa Dean is receiving threats from someone who sounds quite deranged. Enter Travis McGee; he and Lysa's private secretary Dana Holtzer hit the road investigating the other people pictured in the orgy photos. While traveling through Florida to upstate New York; to San Francisco; to Las Vegas; to Phoenix Travis narrows down the the suspect list, and finds a killer. Dana naturally falls in love then into bed with him; huge surprise. The stopover in Vegas gives McGee an opportunity to verbally bash lesbians as MacDonald shows another side of his misogynistic attitudes. Then there is the ever present condescension MacDonald seems to feel for most of the human race. As usual though his ability to write overcomes his painfully out of date attitudes about sex and towards women and his almost supercilious attitude towards the rest of the world. This a short quick moving mystery that is a good read and a good listen.