It was the standard blackmail scheme. For years, sultry Lysa Dean's name on a movie had meant a bonanza at the box office. Now a set of pictures could mean the end of her career.
When first approached for help by lovely Dana Holtzer, Lysa's personal secretary, Travis McGee is thoroughly turned off by the tacky details. But being low on cash, and tenderly attracted by the star's intriguingly remote secretary, McGee sets out to locate his suspects -- only to find that they start turning up dead!
©1964 John D. MacDonald Publishing, Inc. Renewal © 1992 Maynard MacDonald (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"[T]he great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller." (Stephen King)
"[M]y favorite novelist of all time." (Dean Koontz)
"[W]hat a joy that these timeless and treasured novels are available again." (Ed McBain)
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
"The world is shiny and the surface is a little too frangible. Something can reach out of the black and grab you at any moment. Everybody wears a different set of compulsions. You can be maimed without warning, in body or in spirit, by a very nice guy. It is the luck of your draw. I did not feel like a nice guy."
- John D. MacDonald, The Quick Red Fox
A solid, early addition to the Travis McGee series. All the cynical, hard John D. MacDonald prose I could ask for. Part of what I love about MacDonald is his ability to both write like a cheap 10¢ noir novelist and at the same time like an iconic, modern-day Cassandra. 50-years ago, inside these pulp detective novels, he was warning past readers about our sick, slick present. Reading MacDonald is to constantly come across sentences and paragraphs that fill you with unbounded joy. Seriously. Here he is describing San Francisco:
"San Francisco is the most depressing city in America. The come-latelys might not think so. They may be enchanted by the sea of mystery of the Nob and Russian and Telegraph, by the sea mystery of the Bridge over to redwood country on a foggy night, by the urban compartmentalization of Chinese, Spanish, Greek, Japanese, by the smartness of the women and the city's iron clutch on the culture. It might look just fine to the new ones.
But there are too many of us who used to love her. She was like a wild classy kook of a gal, one of those rain-walkers, laughing gray eyes, tousle of dark hair -- sea misty, a lithe and lovely lady, who could laugh at you or with you, and at herself when needs be. A sayer of strange and lovely things. A girl to be in love with, with love like a heady magic.
But she had lost it, boy. She used to give it away, and now she sells it to the tourists. She imitates herself. Her figure has thickened. The things she says now are mechanical and memorized. She overcharges for cynical services."
But he is best when he is bemoaning the loss of privacy, the loss of liberty, the creep of industry an government interference.
"I get this crazy feeling. Every once in a while I get it. I get the feeling that this is the last time in history when the offbeats like me will have a chance to live free in the nooks and crannies of the huge and rigid structure of an increasingly codified society. Fifty years from now [this book was originally published in 1964, so 2014] I would be hunted down in the street. They would drill little holes in my skull and make me sensible and reliable and adjusted."
Not quite Philip K. Dick, but close. Different genre, different prophet writing in the wilderness, but same damn brain-dead apocalypse.
I'm a mom. I have drama in my life. I don't want books with the F-bomb, nor graphic violence. I read for fun and to bring my family together. I read for reducing stress levels. We have never had a television in our home and our children are now mid twenties to 19. We listen together and look for belly-wrenching laughter. So what is it like to live without a TV? Awesomely educational and inspirational. Each new book is a marvel.
I have a number of books in this series that were gifted to me. I'm not sure they are my style. I want to like Travis McGee much more but he beds every woman he works with. I understand these were written during the sexual revolution but the stories just grate on me. The narrator is the absolute best part. Sometimes John MacDonald writes some pretty profound paragraphs. I love those wary of government paragraphs. I love some of the things Travis proclaims to believe. I just wish he weren't a womanizer.
For period writing, for good dialogue between characters, for progression of story I rate these books a 4. If Travis could keep his zipper up I would rate a 5.
I love all of MacDonald's Travis McGee series and thought Darren McGavin was a splendid choice for Trav. But Robert Petkoff is a truly brilliant actor whose protean talent covers so many different voices and characters. I know George Guidell and Scott Brick are supposed to be the "kings of audio" and they're quite good although Brick's interrogative inflections drive me nuts. He phrases questions awkwardly IMO. But Petkoff is masculine as McGee, yet delivers the erudition of Meyer, and portrays females flawlessly without the fey inflection Guidell uses. As wonderful as Mr. Guidell is, he evidently has just one female depiction in his arsenal. In addition, Petkoff covers other male characters with insight and definition. He "paints pictures." I've been an audio book listener for nearly forty years and have never experienced a better reader than Petkoff. Richard Crenna was excellent in The Hunt for Red October but I read where he prepared for months. Ed Asner is also quite good but reads few audio books. Joe Mantegna is great fun as Spenser, but no one IMO has drawn a bead on a series as has Robert Petkoff. Don't know a thing about him, except that he's a big talent.
MacDonald's philosophy and his talent for story structure.
See rave review above.
Extreme reaction? Really? Every time I do cartwheels all the change falls out of my pockets. Next question, please.
Robert Petkoff is an audible book treasure.
This book would be a good thesis starter on John D's attitude to women. At one point the plot leads to a woman being held/comforted by radical butch lesbians so he beats them up and then decides to spank them!
I found John D in this novel sometimes really good but sometimes taking too many short cuts in the plot, an example being constructing the twisted and complicated motivations of a dead character, a photographer, out of whole cloth. He did this too many times, as well he tends to moralize and comes across as pretty old fashioned in his attitudes. The plot was pretty tight though and was under 7 hours.
The narrator was good although a bit boyish in voice for my tastes. Not sure if I'll buy another, think I might try another mystery writer I grew up with, Ross MacDonald, and see how he aged.
We used to enjoy Travis McGee stories.
Very dated and sophomoric story.
Disappointed that the pretentious moralizing has become so apparent.
We miss the sense of place of the earlier stories.
A person who doesn't mind endless droning, I found myself wondering what the story was about or where I was or where they were or who was actually talking about nothing now.
A BIG Shout Out to the reader. He made the half I listened to bearable but I simply could not finish the story, I kept falling asleep......and I was driving ! Seriously over the course of 3 days I could only listen for short periods while behind the wheel.
Fourth book in the Travis McGee series, this one about a movie superstar who wants some embarrassing sex photos recovered. The look at sexual values as portrayed in 1964 is weird and kind of interesting, but ultimately sinks the book when read 50 years later. It’s just a little too sex-negative and the “butch” lesbian scene is not good. Still, MacDonald has a nice easy writing style that’s occasionally poetic.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
I totally agree with other reviewers that this series has not aged particularly well. MacDonald is good with language, and the narrator is excellent, but it's impossible to get beyond the judgmental and early-60's prejudiced tone. Cringe-worthy. The world has indeed changed, baby!
Listening to MacDonald's Quick Red Fox required some adjustment of sensibilities for this American woman listener. Having loved the "beautiful woman walks into the office" openings of Hammett's and Ross MacDonald's mysteries, I started out enjoying Travis Magee as ably read by Robert Petkoff. The mystery of a salacious-photo blackmail of a celebrity fit the expected genre subtype. I even appreciated the gentler language and the quick descriptions of violence in an older hardboiled mystery.
My discomfort came with Travis's "my woman" attitude toward a love interest, his stereotypical flippant comparison of two lesbians to "authentic males," and the constant attention to female physical appearance without the equivalent descriptions of males.
Even trying to set these aside, I can't say I find this novel meets the quality of other writers of about the same time in language, character or story. This was my first John D. MacDonald and I'm comparing to all of Ross M and Dashiel H, so I may be being a bit unfair!
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