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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

"[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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An Entertaining Start To A Classic Series

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.

72 of 76 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • Bartonville, TX
  • 07-20-14

Classics for a reason

Travis Magee is a rough, retired, military man with a big heart who lives on "The Busted Flush", a houseboat he aquired in a poker game. When he runs short on funds he takes on the occational investigative, recovery job for the fee of half of whatever he recovers. In this first addition Travis try's to help a young girl find her sadistic ex-boyfriend who stole a fortune that had been buried on the families property for years.

I enjoy this series because it returns us to the simpler days before the complications of modern technology. A fast action mystery series with grit, well developed characters and captivating stories. John MacDonald's writing has been touted and emulated by some of the best writers of our day and when coupled with Robert Petkoff's articulate narration produces an impressive combination.

40 of 45 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Finally!

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.

32 of 36 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • Reno, NV, United States
  • 06-20-13

Strong start to series

Any additional comments?

First book in the long-running Travis McGee series. In this one, a woman’s dead father had hidden something valuable on their property and she was swindled out of it by his old Army buddy, an abusive rapist. Well-written and fun. You can see the influence on Michael Connelly, Stephen King (style not substance) and others.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Before the A-Team, there was Travis McGee

YOU USE YOUR FACE, TO MAKE FACES WITH
McGee only works when he has to. Just like the A-Team, people find him. He gets them things they lost when they have given up on the law or can't ask the law for help. His fee is 50% of what he takes in. The customer gets 50%, but that is better than nothing. His bachelor pad is a boat. When he wants sex, he goes to a party, picks up a girl, takes her to his pad, beds her and than goes back to the party.

OUR DESIRE TO ACCEPT THAT KIND OF DOMINATION (50 shades of Gray)
I had trouble with two things. First were the women in this book. They are all very, very weak. I guess there were no strong women in 1964? One woman talks about her former boyfriend who raped her on a daily basis. She hated it at first, but grew to like it. He steals money from her and than does the same thing to another woman, who hated it at first but grew to look forward to it. I don't like the message this sends to young men. Reading this you would think that if you raped a woman often enough, she would grow to love it. The main character does not do this, he is more of a mother to them. He takes care of them and does not want sex from them. He will pick up a one night stand for that. He has to take care of them, cause they are weak and he is strong. I know guys who like weak women, because it makes them feel smarter and stronger. I also did not care for the preaching. He is always telling us how great he is and how we should be just like him. The book reads like a soap opera and very little action happens.

124 of 144 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

New to MacDonald, and Hooked

Any additional comments?

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!

28 of 32 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not Pulp Fiction

I picked this title up on the recommendation of one of the reviewers that I follow (Darwin8u). I was looking for a new series (having now substantially read/listened to the Harry Hole books), so I wasn't turned off by the suggestion that this was not just a beach-side read. As is usual with this particular reviewer, the observations were spot on, albeit that they were of two other MacDonald titles and I had to interpolate a bit, but I wanted to start at the beginning. That's the OCD in me.
MacDonald is a strange dude. He appears to be cast somewhere between Raymond Chandler and Hemingway (bizarre as that sounds); a fatalistic observer of life. Sometimes he goes close to almost profound observations, but at other times he seems happy to dispense the heavy hand of his lore.
Overall, I think I like the style, even if I am not yet a fan of McGee, the protagonist. I think he's one of those you need to grow into, a bit like Harry.
I thought Petkoff's narration was fine. I'm not sure why it has attracted such criticism in some reviews. I didn't find it monotone. Perhaps that was an observation made of McGee's fatalism.
This is not an easy read but, in it's own way, it is not a hard one. Given a bit of time to recover from McGee's opening gambit, I suspect I will go back for another round.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Wrong narrator again!

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?

61 of 79 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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From a (disappointed) Travis McGee reader

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.

89 of 117 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 12-04-17

The Travis McGee Series is Born

“I am wary of the whole dreary deadening structured mess we have built into such a glittering top-heavy structure that there is nothing left to see but the glitter, and the brute routines of maintaining it.”
― John D. MacDonald, The Deep Blue Good-By

Moments of brilliance mixed with standard, hard-boiled detective fair. This wasn't my first John D. MacDonald, or even my first Travis McGee, but it is the first book in the series. Technically, I think he published the first three novels in three months, so there has to be some Irish Triplets thing going, but I'm not smart enough to figure out what to call it when you launch a series so fast (a three-round burst?).

While one doesn't need to read MacDonald's novels in order, he does capture the culture of America from the 60s to the 70s and I'm sure someone could (and should) write a novel about American culture, sex, economics, and politics as explored sequentially in Travis McGee novels.

Having read about 2/3 of this series as I reflect back on this one, it isn't near the top. It is good, and solid, but mainly serves to introduce the audience to the idea of McGee. So, we get the background story, and a basic framework for what will end up driving the following 20 novels in the series:

* Something is taken.
* Travis McGee reluctantly recovers something that has been taken.
* He gets paid for it.
* Perhaps, the payment is not worth the cost of getting it back.

Fair warning, MacDonald's take on women and sex in these books reflects the era. In many ways, MacDonald reminds me of a more intellectual and American version of Ian Fleming. But just don't jump into these books expecting to run into Gloria Steinem.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Adam J Wright
  • 03-11-14

Brilliant Start to a Great Series!

Where does The Deep Blue Good-By rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best. Travis McGee is great.

What other book might you compare The Deep Blue Good-By to, and why?

The other Travis McGee books in the series. They all have the same main character.

Have you listened to any of Robert Petkoff’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Not heard Robert Petkoff before. He handled this story fantastically

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, it was great but listening in pieces of stolen time was perfect for this book. Between times I was wondering what would happen.

Any additional comments?

Superb start to a wonderful series of books.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • WarwickStudent
  • 07-10-18

Good but dated in places

This starts out quite slowly but is a decent punchy little thriller. Overall it was pretty decent but I think I'll try a lot of other authors before coming back to this one for the reasons below:

Lists. Endless lists. It become quite common for Travis McGee to suddenly list things he doesn't like (credit cards, ID documents, savings accounts) or things in his boat or whatever. These lists add absolutely nothing to the story and just feel like the author ranting.

Travis becomes the authors mouthpiece far, far too often. Streams of internal dialogue about how the world's going to pot, how women aren't what they used to be, how the government is too big, how the labour market is too saturated. I ended up just tuning out the main character which isn't a good sign.

Travis is a very inconsistent character, ready to murder the bad guy if necessary but not able to steal gems for him later? Not easy to empathise with in general.

The women are also portrayed very oddly, falling into hysteria and bouts of submissiveness. Compared to Paul Temple (which was set in a similar era in the UK) the woman are almost unrecognisable.

And Travis's career is fairly stupid. The author's trying to find a modern day Robin Hood role but I can only imagine that will stretch further and further as the series goes on, unless the bad guys keep their money in a pot under the bed then there's little for old Trav to grab.

It was, however, a thrilling read once it got going. Good yarn but you'll find better without looking too hard.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • kevthechef
  • 10-20-16

pulp at its very best

Easily the best book I've read this year. The ending is simply the best ever.

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  • lucy costelloe
  • 06-04-16

Thought provoking

The insight and clarity of a woman. Just read it and explore a new dimension of understanding human nature. Enjoy.