The Deep Blue Good-by
A Travis McGee Novel
From a beloved master of crime fiction, The Deep Blue Good-by is one of many classic novels featuring Travis McGee, the hard-boiled detective who lives on a houseboat.
Travis McGee is 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.
“John D. MacDonald was the great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller.”—Stephen King
McGee isn’t particularly strapped for cash, but how can anyone say no to Cathy, a sweet backwoods girl who’s been tortured repeatedly by her manipulative ex-boyfriend Junior Allen? What Travis isn’t anticipating is just how many women Junior has torn apart and left in his wake. Enter Junior’s latest victim, Lois Atkinson.
Frail and broken, Lois can barely get out of bed when Travis finds her, let alone keep herself alive. But Travis turns into Mother McGee, giving Lois new life as he looks for the ruthless man who steals women’s spirits and livelihoods. But he can’t guess how violent his quest is soon to become. He’ll learn the hard way that there must be casualties in this game of cat and mouse.
Features a new Introduction by Lee Child
Love the Travis McGee character, and Child captures many of his traits. The tale is well structured and engaging. Characters are fully fleshed out. Indeed, we may learn more than we care to know about them. The downside of the story is that the dense pack of facts and observations tends to deter from the pacing of the story. An action-packed narrative is occasionally stalled by an avalanche of unnecessary (to my mind) details.
Finally JDM in digital!!
Well patience is a virture indeed. Almost fifty years after it began, John D. MacDonald's iconic Travis McGee series finally gets into digital editions. MacDonald is the master of crime fiction, still unexcelled in character, plot, and an uncanny grasp of the cultural zeitgeist of the times in which his novels took place.
THE DEEP BLUE GOODBYE sets the pace with an especially callous villain for McGee to bring to heel. Once you begin this series you'll want to motor through them all. And, in my opinion, the prices are a bargain for a writer this mesmerizing.
Burt Bacharach meets Phillip Marlowe in sandals
I wanted to like this book by the acclaimed author, and there were parts of it that still sing as it originally did. The descriptions of Florida towns, bait shops and bars, and a certain world-weariness, mourning the less populous days, before the interstate brought every other Screw-loosened Ohioan to the sunshine state.
But I found his descriptions of women, and the sex he is forced to perform with them (purely to heal their emotional wounds, of course!) to be revolting. He doesn’t know when to shut up and talk about the sunset or something. I wanted to take a shower with strong soap after these lugubrious sexual misadventures.
As with Raymond Chandler, he needs to periodically remark about lisping fairies to contrast with his own effortless masculinity. This thread of homophobia is dated, but I found it kind of funny in an old fashioned way, and not personally offensive. The difference is: Raymond Chandler seems to actually enjoy women, and MacDonald’s Travis MacGee seems to see them as an ethical obligation. Which is really prudish and insulting.
Since the brutalizing, victimization and ultimate redemption of women are the engine that moves the plot, I grew tired of it. Understanding this is after all his first novel of this sort, I’m going to try one or two more to see if his style improves. After hearing how deified his is among Florida crime writers, I don’t quite see what all the fuss is about.