How to you extort $600,000 from a dying man? Someone had done it very quietly and skilfully to the husband of Travis McGee's ex-girlfriend. McGee flies to Chicago to help untangle the mess and discovers that, although Dr. Fortner Geis had led an exemplary life, there were those who'd take advantage of one "indiscretion" and bring down the whole family. McGee also discovers he likes a few members of the family far too much to let that happen....
©1966 John D. MacDonald Publishing, Inc. Renewal © 1994 Maynard MacDonald (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I'll be honest, I haven't finished this yet. I can only listen for about 30 minutes at a time once or twice a week. I don't know if the story was actually written in the dark ages or if it is a plot device, but this is absolutely written in man's-man tone. It oozes flinty stares and cigar smoke and tough guys and gum-shoe detecting and dames. There is quite a bit of ethnic profiling and subtext. The characters are fairly stereotypical and the women are mostly delivered in the same tone. They are either "gosh golly, Trav..." kinda gals, cynical ice-maiden harridens or trusty side-kick dames.
I am not saying there is anything wrong with this type of writing, I am just finding it hard going and a distraction from the storyline. i might try something more current by this author.
I didn't realize that this book was almost 40 years old when I got it, and I'm glad I didn't spend a full credit for it. In spite of coming from John D. MacDonald's area of Florida, sharing an alma mater, and agreeing that he is well-written; when read now, this book verges on being offensive. The attitudes and vocabulary seem to be rooted well before 1966, and the misogynistic and politically incorrect descriptions would seem worthy of the 50s or earlier. Women are "broads", he refers to "limeys", "spics" and "Japs", the dialogue is filled with phrasing such as "lordy me, oh my", "holy maloney", "honest to Betsy", "golly", "doll", "negro", calls dislikable men "silly as girls", speaks about a woman as "40" across her secretarial butt", and makes arguments for how it is understandable for a chronic philanderer with the ladies to bed someone whenever he is stressed or sad. He calls women "fine merchandise" and compares them to sports cars that are "responsive when mastered". He credits himself with entitlement to bed a woman, likening her to "cherries jubilee" because he passed up the "cream pie" of the farm wife. He tells one woman to "go back to your cotton patch, cornpone".
It would be more understandable if he was really channelling Sam Spade; but the misogyny of Spade's era was legendary, and considerably before the 60s. Consequently, Travis appeared an egotistic, self-agrandizing buffoon who considered himself to be God's gift to women everywhere. The plot was predictable, and he was lame. The novel came off as as he would describe as "dime store". Forgivable if placed in the 40s, but unevolved and thereby distractingly trite even for the 60s.
I know there is a huge contingent of Travis McGee fans, which is why I finally read this. For the life of me, I can't figure out why. It is like watching a movie when "talkies" were first made, with similar dialogue and depth of character.
travis: he makes the stories work
as long as the narrator has an average voice and good diction no problem. otherwise he/she has no effect for me
all was good
I read many of the Travis McGee books in the late '60s and early '70s and urged others to try them. Listening to this "Yellow Eye" book, I kept thinking who was I at the time that I really liked this macho, moralizing character (it's actually the moralizing that gets to me)? Are the other books different, and maybe I never read this one? I don't know. The plot line is good, well, sometimes stretched too much even for the genre, and I guess Petkoff does a good job. But I think I'll stop Mr. MacDonald with this one. I would like to again see MacDonald's "A Flash of Green," a non-McGee story filmed for TV in 1984 with Ed Harris.
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