He's a self-described beach bum who won his houseboat in a card game. He's also a knight errant who's wary of credit cards, retirement benefits, political parties, mortgages, and television. He only works when his cash runs out, and his rule is simple: he'll help you find whatever was taken from you, as long as he can keep half.
Nothing that John D. MacDonald wrote is better loved and more enduring than the 21 books in his series about Travis McGee, the Florida-based “salvage consultant” who recovers property for a fee so he can take his retirement “a piece at a time”. Narrator Robert Petkoff, hand-chosen to narrate with the approval of MacDonald’s estate, brings McGee’s world of the Busted Flush (his houseboat, which he won in a poker game) and “Miss Agnes” (his custom Rolls-Royce pickup truck) to vivid life.
©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)
I went into this book as a fan of Lee Child and Stephen King, two authors that were influenced by John D. MacDonald. After reading the first book in the Travis McGee series, I can understand what attracted these two modern-day masters of mystery to MacDonald in the first place.
This book is filled with memorable characters, engaging dialogue and captivating action. It also has a good deal of vulgar language, which I'm perfectly fine with; it just surprised me considering when this book was originally published.
Like many great authors, MacDonald takes this story to another level by weaving in thought-provoking analysis and commentary. This introspective awareness helps flesh out who the main characters are, where they've been and where they're going, both in the book and beyond the pages.
Entering this book without any preconceptions, I feel the narrator did a fine job with all of the characters' voices.
I'm looking forward to listening to the rest of the books in this series, and I recommend you give "The Deep Blue Good-By" a shot; it's enjoyable from start to finish.
I fell in love with Travis McGee years ago and read the entire series as each book was released. I'm so happy that Audible has finally decided to publish the audio-books. After all these years, I remember the characters but cannot remember the stories, so listening to the books is a reunion of old friends catching up on all the forgotten memories. I read each book several times, so I'm sure I will listen to the audio-books again and again. McGee reminds me of a male Kinsey Milhone. He's softer than previous hard-boiled PI's but still a womanizer. Much like Janet Evanovich's Ranger, McGee knows who he is and what he wants, and he refuses to take advantage of the "good people"--men or women.
I have read all 21 of the Travis McGee books over the years. I still have most of them in well worn paperback. They are timeless and exciting detective stories from a master yarn spinner.
The audio versions, to date, are not that great due to a bad selection of narrators; this series included. Robert Petkoff drones on in a monotonous monotone with no heart and less enthusiasms for the part. Why the audio book publishers keep picking lousy narrators for the voice of Travis McGee is beyond me. There are literally hundreds of fully qualified people who would jump at the chance to take on this series. It's a shame that none of them were chosen for the part.
Audio book publishers, you won't sell "Me" anymore of John D. MacDonald's work until you pick a decent narrator for the part. Audio versions of stories MUST have the proper actors to make them properly come alive. Why else make them into audio books?
I bought this book because of the comments from truly outstanding crime, mystery, thriller writers including Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, and many others,and I can see why these successful writers admire the character details McDonald uses in the book. His fascination and brilliant presentation of tiny specifics of dress, mannerisms, dialogue and silences speak volumes about the characters and unspoken moments that bring emotion to a character. I also watched the videos from Lee Child and Carl Hiaasen. All this led me to believe it was a crime thriller at its heart, which was, in hindsight, an erroneous conclusion. The authors praise, now in re-reading it, is for character development. Audible even said in its intro "...And forget about the genre of mystery..." and quotes praises for being a novelist.
Since I have no history of the McGee character, no emotional connection with earlier publications and editions, as most of the readers who posted here apparently have, I came to it expecting a thrilling read. What I took away was a story which was about ninety percent relationship between Travis and two broken women whom he nursed or attempted to nurse back to health. The last bit of the book became a mystery, action, thriller but I had early on predicted the outcome of the two central characters and, even though the action ending was exceptionally well written, it came too late in the game for me.
Since I am reading the book today, not years ago when it was written, I winced at the weak and apparently helpless women portrayed at every turn of events, all dependent on Travis to rescue and help them. Perhaps for fans who read the book when it was released it calls up memories of characters prevalent in those days, but it simply felt very old fashioned and overly heroic for me, to the extent that I grew anxious and irritated and began wondering why I was listening to it. The extremely whiny voice given to the main female lead enhanced my discomfort. That being said, I have enjoyed many books with strong male lead characters, it's the consistent and overtly weak and helplessness of the females that just doesn't click (with me). Reminds me of the earlier days of cinema when love stories were about the strong man tricking or exploiting the sexy woman to be his.
I work in film and am well aware of successful directors who have been inspired and influenced by earlier filmmakers ( ex. Max Ophuls who Stanley Kubrick said inspired his vision of filmmaking, Alfred Hitchcock who deeply admired Henri-Georges Clouzot) and can appreciate how mystery writers can admire character techniques McDonald employs in his work. But for this reader, the character technique in this book doesn't fulfill my needs for a strong and engaging crime or mystery story.
This was my introduction to the work of John D. MacDonald, and I can't believe I've been unaware of this man's work all these years. I liked this first novel enough that, long before I'd finished it, I'd ordered the six other McGee books released to date.
I think Robert Petkoff is a perfect narrator for this book. I particularly like his range of voices for female characters. He avoids the common pitfall of many male readers of resorting to high-pitched squeaky voices for the women.
Other reviewers, some very familiar with the Travis McGee series, have mentioned being disappointed in Petkoff's reading. Perhaps because I'm new to MacDonald and McGee, I've no preconceived idea of what McGee should sound like, and Petkoff's treatment is now the perfect voice for McGee in my head.
There are 14 more Travis McGee books, and I hope Audible is recording them with Robert Petkoff as the narrator and an imminent release date. When that's done, there are 50 additional MacDonald books to look forward to. Get a move on, Audible: summer is coming and I want to vacation with as much MacDonald as possible!
EASY , FUN READ
TRAVIS IS A REAL STAR!
OUTSTANDING VOICE INTERPRETATION AND INFLECTION AT A GREAT PACE
NOT EXTREME, JUST ENTERTAINING
I was very happy when I saw that Audible released a number of John McDonald's Travis McGee books. I remember devouring the paperbacks after I switched my genre reading from sf&f and I wanted to see if I still enjoyed them. Bottom line: yes, I did, a lot.
I'm not going to recap the plot here, but want to focus on some other elements. First, the narrator, Robert Petkoff, is superb, with an extremely expressive voice that captures the Travis spirit. He's not bad on the female voices, but really shines with McGee.
Second, I still love the character. Travis McGee, the serious, rough, tough, scrupulous romantic, has a lot to say about himself, the people he encounters, the world as he sees it. He is not afraid to wax poetic about an attractive female, or rant and rave about the world going to hell in a hand basket, or to kick himself in the butt when he has underestimated the opposition. I wish more series detectives had his abilities in this area, and less of their typical po-mo snark.
Third, although written in the early 60's I think this has held up quite well as a novel. Although rooted in its time and place, it does not read as a period piece, and unlike some series authors who set book after book in some amorphous eternal present, times change over the series which was written from the early 60's to the early 80's. Actions have real consequences, which is something that is missing from a lot of the most popular current series, and moral choices are made.
The McGee books are a much grittier version of the great romantic trope of the knight in shining armor and the damsel in distress. While there are some pure bimbos in the books, they are set decoration; most of the female characters do have hearts, brains and souls, and sometimes even imperfect bodies.
I really want to gobble up the rest of the series, but am resisting the temptation so that I have some summer listening to look forward to.
Different....very different but also the same. It catches Macdonald at his best
This is my third visit with Travis McGee; first as an adolesent; again at 40 and now 20 years later. I did not realize what I had forgotten. With the first chapter it all came back though. The complex Travis an alter ego for the author.
There is a reason why John D. Macdonald seems to make the top 5 list of many good writers. Many characters are developed to be believable but a very small group seem really to live. Sherlock Holmes is one that comes to mind, Travis McGee is another. The details in his stories rest with his character. Travis reminds me a bit of the cowboys that live at the end of the wild west. They knew their
Electrical Engineer, 51 years old father of 3.
Travis McGee is a character I want to learn more about. The books have been around for a long time yet the story holds up well.
I first fell in love with the McGee series back in the 70s. It's the first series I collected in paperback and I had all the colors. They were a blast. So I was hesitant to hear this book after carrying my image of him in my head for all these years but I took a chance and downloaded the Audible version.
And, it was OK, not fantastic but not bad either. I had forgotten about half of the story so it was good to hear it again. John D MacDonald sure was a good writer.
As one reviewer wrote: Travis McGee Is A Shining Knight In Tarnished Armor and I wanted to live a boat for years when I was living in Florida. The stories are good, it's a great series.
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