Travis McGee is the strikingly handsome and ever resourceful invention of John D. MacDonald. Born in the author's imagination in 1964, McGee drifted into the world on a 52-foot diesel-powered houseboat, the Busted Flush, which he has used as a base of operations through many adventures. In this book, the private eye outwaits and outwits a deranged killer as he searches for a missing wife on a remote Caribbean island, where he also tangles with a baby-faced businessman with a taste for murder.
©1971 John D. MacDonald Publishing, Inc. (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
John D. MacDonald's pulp novels are a perfect beach read. They are unassuming, consistently over-deliver, produce better one-liners than a George Carlin set AND seem to have captured perfectly a very American, libertarian ethos of the mid-60s to late 70s. Travis McGee is consistently drawn into scrapes that he would rather avoid, beds girls he would prefer to ignore, and kills men he without relish. He perfectly fits Morrell's reluctant hero archetype:
"a tarnished or ordinary man with several faults or a troubled past, and he is pulled reluctantly into the story, or into heroic acts. During the story, he rises to the occasion, sometimes even vanquishing a mighty foe, sometimes avenging a wrong. But he questions whether he's cut out for the hero business. His doubts, misgivings, and mistakes add a satisfying layer of tension to a story"
MacDonald has perfected using the reluctant hero's questions, doubts, misgivings, and mistakes to add heft to his novels. McGee isn't a dime-store hero. He doesn't want the job, but doesn't mind the money, and it seems no one else is qualified to fix the huge mess that has fallen into his lap and seems destined to take him away from the bikinis, boats and beaches for a season.
This one was all over the map, but the bad guy is truly evil and keeps out-smarting poor Travis. Meyer takes his lumps and almost pays the ultimate price as Travis confronts his own mortality.
Likes intelligent mysteries, spy thrillers, world history, most anything Roman. Hates bad writing.
I chose this book because I am a fan of noir detective fiction and this one was rated so highly. I was disappointed by a tired, plodding, and thin plot and a writing style that alternated between ersatz profundity introspection and comic book wham-bam action. In reading through Amazon reviews I noticed that some readers say that this is one of McDonald's weaker Travis McGee books. I certainly hope so, but I'm not sure I want to risk and more money and time on this series. As in all matters of taste, others may disagree.
I read all these books some 40 years ago and was happy to see them as audio books. It is unfortunate, however, that they are in the first person -- the narrator (phrasing, emphasis, etc.) just does not sound like MeGee to me.
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