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       "Travis McGee's still in Cedar Key
        That's what old John MacDonald says"
            -Jimmy Buffett (Incommunicado from Coconut Telegraph)

Travis McGee lives aboard the Busted Flush, his 52 foot custom houseboat, in
Slip F-18, Bahia Mar, Lauderdale. He is "purely McGee, that pale-eyed,
wire-haired girl-finder, that big shambling brown boat-bum who walks beaches,
slays small fierce fish, busts minor icons, argues, smiles and disbelieves, that
knuckly scar-tissued reject from structured society, who waits until money gets
low, and then goes out and takes it from the taker, keeps half, and gives the
rest back to the innocent."

When McGee's old war buddy Mike Gibson asks him to go help his little sister
Nina, he heads to Manhattan. Nina's fiance, Howard Plummer, was killed in
what appears to have been a simple mugging, but then Nina found ten thousand
dollars hidden in her apartment. Since Howard worked for Charles McKewn
Armister IV, helping to manage his $60 million, Nina fears he may have been
skimming money.

McGee starts looking around & becomes suspicious when he finds out that Armister
had a nervous breakdown recently & has undergone drastic personality changes
since then. Soon he uncovers a scam by Armister's attorney, Baynard Mulligan,
and his personal secretary, Bonita Hersch, who have been siphoning off money
from Armister's accounts. But just as he's getting close to breaking the case,
McGee is slipped a mickey & wakes up in Toll Valley Hospital, the same mental
institution where Armister was taken. There the malevolent Dr. Varn subjects
him to a slew of psychoactive drugs & McGee is soon fighting to maintain his
sanity & save his own life.

At some point, probably right after college, I read all 21 Travis McGee books.
Like Mickey Spillane (Mike Hammer), Brett Halliday (Mike Shayne), Rex Stout
(Nero Wolfe), etc., John D. MacDonald created a unique hero, set him down within
the hard-boiled genre & cranked out million selling adventures. The Travis
McGee books never rise above the genre, a la Chandler or Ross MacDonald, but
they are an enjoyable artifact.


Grade: (C+)


See also:

John MacDonald Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA:John D. MacDonald
    -ESSAY: MACDONALD VERSUS MACDONALD: A CRIME FICTION DEBATE: Evaluating the literary legacies of John D. MacDonald and Ross Macdonald from inside a Florida flea market. (RON CORBETT, 3/20/24, CrimeReads)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: JOHN D. MACDONALD'S TRAVIS MCGEE NOVELS, RANKED: Peter Swanson revisits an iconic crime fiction series, in its entirety (PETER SWANSON, 5/06/22, CrimeReads)

Book-related and General Links:
    -John D. MacDonald Homepage
    -The Series Travis McGee (plot summaries)
    -Travis McGee from Thrilling Detectives
    -Travis McGee Project
    -The Travis McGee Series from John D. MacDonald

Other Travis McGee novels:
    -The Deep Blue Good-by (1964)
    -A Purple Place for Dying (1964)
    -The Quick Red Fox (1964)
    -A Deadly Shade of Gold (1965)
    -Bright Orange for the Shroud (1965)
    -Darker than Amber (1966)
    -One Fearful Yellow Eye (1967)
    -Pale Gray for Guilt (1968)
    -The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper (1969)
    -Dress Her in Indigo (1969)
    -The Long Lavender Look (1970)
    -A Tan and Sandy Silence (1972)
    -The Scarlet Ruse (1973)
    -The Turquoise Lament (1974)
    -The Dreadful Lemon Sky (1975)
    -The Empty Copper Sea
    -The Green Ripper (1980)
    -Free Fall in Crimson (1981)
    -Cinnamon Skin (1982)
    -The Lonely Silver Rain (1985)