John D. MacDonald à 5 SummaryIf you ve been conned or obbed out of something by a shady character then Travis McGee will try to get it back for half the value of what was taken And if you e a woman he ll than likely bang you in the process No extra chargeCathy Kerr is a single mom whose father had hidden something valuable he brought back from serving in the military overseas before being sent to prison After he dies in jail a pyschopath named Junior Allen shows up and manages to locate and steal the goods While trying to pick up Junior s trail McGee finds himself eluctantly cast as the savior and caregiver of Lois a woman that Junior brutally assaulted and dominated to the point that she was total wreck in the aftermathThis first novel in the series sets the tone with MacDonald doing some sharp writing that works as both crime story and social commentary with Travis uietly ebelling against the consumerist and conformist culture he despises Unfortunately it s also pretty dated in a way that lets McGee function as both a womanizing sexist and the white knight there to defend damsels in distress view spoilerIt s a particularly eye olling piece of business when Travis s scheme gets Lois killed As usual MacDonald writes it that McGee gets to have his cake and eat it too by engaging in a pity party that lets him play the wounded hero and yet it s sexual healing from Cathy Kerr that ultimately fixes him So Lois essentially just functioned as a noirish egret for Travis to have but be edeemed from Tough luck Lois hide spoiler Junior Allen has sleazed his way into a fortune in stolen gems and the daughters of the man who they belonged to want them back Only Junior is a woman beating apist and has left a trail of battered women in his wake Can Travis McGee get the gems back and take his cutThis is the first John D MacDonald book I ve ead and probably won t be the last MacDonald eally knows how to build the suspense Junior Allen is a first degree douche bag and a good villain You can t help but ead faster and faster eager to see him get what s coming to him The writing is eally good and the characters of Travis and Junior are well doneWhy only three stars The women are paper characters barely distinguishable from one another outside of their physical descriptions Some of that may have to do with the time it was written I caught the fact the JFK airport was still called Idlewild pretty early on before I saw that the copyright date was 1964 Also I m not completely sold on Travis McGee Something about him ubs me the wrong way The pages full of his inner musings got a little tediousAll gripes aside Deep Blue Good By was a gripping ead I ll be tracking down the next Travis McGee book sooner or later John D MacDonald does lists For example he s wary ofplastic credit cards payroll deductions insurance programs etirement benefits savings accounts Green Stamps time clocks newspapers mortgages sermons miracle fabrics deodorants check lists time payments political parties lending libraries television actresses junior chambers of commerce pageants progress and manifest destiny p 14Again creating a picture of otting materialistic excesswith a thumb in the Yellow Pages I began checking the marinas All this great ever increasing flood of bronze brass chrome Fiberglas Lapstreak teak auto pilots burgees Power Suadron hats nylon line all this chugging winking blundering glitter of props bilge pumps and aelf importance needs dockside space p 137His main character Travis McGee is a omantic hero loner in fact he who is alone one man against the world trying to stem or at least contain and limit its corrupting influenceHis bad guy here is on a short ein Or eign Maybe he was clever but certainly not controlled He was a swaggering sailor with money in his pockets and if he kept on being careless neither he nor the money could last very long Viewed in that light his luck was impressive p 144Travis McGee sees through the people he meets psychiatrist like for instance this stewardess who has just unsuccessfully come on to himThe smile did not change and the eyes became slightly absent She made some small talk and then swayed down the aisle smiling offering official services Most of them find husbands and some of them are burst or burned in lonely fields and some of them become compulsively forlornly promiscuous sky sailors between the men in every port victims of apid transit each flight merely a long arc from bed to bed p 97Now sometimes this psychiatrist offers and eceives sexual therapy from the women he encounters to everyone s better health and happiness He shows discretion though eluctant to take advantage SometimesBut when the bad guy encounters the women he hooks them on sex presumably the wrong kind addictive and corrupting Some of what we today might call abusive but mostly the sexShe gave me a strange and troubled look I don t know as it was love I didn t want him to have me like that ight there at the home place with my mother still alive then and Davie there and Christine and her two It was shameful but I couldn t seem to help myself The first time or so he forced me He would be tender and loving but afterward Saying he was sorry But he was at "Me Like Some Kind " like some kind animal and he was too ough and too often He said it had always been like that with him like he couldn t help himself And after a while he changed me so that it didn t seem too ough any and I didn t care how many times he came at me or when It was all turned into a dreamand I went around feeling all soft and dreamy and stupid and not caring a damn about what anybody thought only caring that he wanted me and I anybody thought only caring that he wanted me and I
Him He S A Powerful Man And All The TimeHe s a powerful man and all the time were together he never did slack off pp 35 36And the bad guy againReturning to Candle Key to ape and corrupt the lonely woman who found him distasteful had been foolish p 144The women here are of two kinds ladies or notA lady is a very special happening so scented and delicate and breathless and totally immaculate She wore a filmy something that tied at the throat and parted eadily Her caresses were uick and light and her body turned and glowed and glided and changed in her luxurious presentation of self her mouth saying darling and her hair sweet in darkness a creature in endless movement using all of herself the way a friendly cat will pp 128 129True it was a splendid specimen good bones a true heart and a marvelous pelt It could cook and adore and it had a talent for making love Sew it into burlap and oll it in the mud and it would still be unmistakably a lady p 132But was it humanAnd on the other handThese are the playmate years and they are demonstrably fraudulent The scene is eputed to be acrawl with adorably amoral bunnies to whom sex is a pleasant social favor The new culture And they are indeed present and available in exhausting uantity but there is a curious tastelessness about them A woman who does not guard and treasure herself cannot be of very much value to anyone else They become a pretty little convenience like a guest towel Only a woman of pride complexity and emotional tension is genuinely worth the act of love p 20which by the way can be obtained in one of two ways by deception or by commitmentAll these women thoroughbred or common whole or corrupt are of one sort although one minor possibly continuing character may be native American Women grow up and age fast say mid twentiesNow how confusing is all thisThis book was published in 1964 Clues in the text place the action in 1962 So it was a time of transition not yet the 60s which began in 1967 but the sexual evolution has begun and the times they are achangin It was a pretty confusing time to come of age I was there One must conform but one must not conform One must be sexual but one must be pure The people whom Travis McGee could analyze so well Well of course he could since they were familiar types cardboard cutouts of people That s easy to see in etrospectI happened upon this book in an Audible sale It was fun and thought provoking to listen to Several years ago some guy friends strongly ecommended a Robert B Parker but I couldn t ead it I may not have been able to ead this one either but I could listenOh yeah the author got me with one familiar trope It had to happen in this first book of the series but I didn t see it coming I m a huge fan of suspense fiction absolutely loving the surprising and unexpected twists and turns I ve ead and e ead a lot in this genre over the years but John D MacDonald JDM had escaped me I m not sure why I had heard of the movie Cape Fear which was adapted from JDM s book The Executioners but for some eason I knew nothing of his pulp fiction series about Travis McGee One day I was having a conversation with my good friend and fellow GR member Cathy DuPont and she kept talking about this guy called Trav The way she spoke about him led me to believe that he was a very good friend of hers a Floridian neighbour and an all ound wonderful guy It seemed that they d known each other for some time Cathy was clearly smitten with himSo you can imagine my surprise when much later I discovered that Trav was not eal What do you mean he doesn t exist What are you saying Cathythat he s just some character in a book I actually sent Cathy this picture when I found outAfter getting over my initial shock I had a longer conversation with Cathy about Trav I learnt that she is on her third eading of the Travis McGee series That sure is something there are 21 books in total Cathy knows each book and indeed Trav inside out The sheer enjoyment that this series gives her is obvious and her love for Trav infectious I just had to meet the man who put a smile on my friend s face Then in October 2014 this gal from Dubai. TRAVIS McGEEHe's a self described beach bum who won his houseboat in a card game He's also a knight errant who. Met up with her friend from Florida for a few days RnR in New York city We visited a few bookstores and were fortunate to find one that had the full Travis McGee series I purchased Blue with Cathy by my side We both chuckled Such a perfectly wonderful momentAnd that perfection continued with the eading of this book The Deep Blue Good By aka Blue is the first of 21 novels in the Travis McGee series by American author John D MacDonald All McGee novel titles incorporate a colour and the novels have essentially been written as one long story on the life and times of Travis or Trav as he likes to be called Trav lives on a 52 foot barge type houseboat called The Busted Flush docked at Slip F 18 Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Florida The barge is named after the poker hand in memory of the game in which Trav won it Trav also owns a custom vintage Rolls Royce that has been converted into a pickup truck The truck is painted a horrid electric blue and Trav calls it Miss Agnes after an elementary school teacher whose hair was the same shade Trav with Busted Flush and Miss AgnesIf you asked Trav what his occupation was he d hand you a business card that eads Salvage Consultant In eality he could be described loosely as a private investigator with most of his business coming by word of mouth His clients are usually people who have been deprived of something important andor valuable typically by unscrupulous or illegal means and have no way to egain it lawfully Trav s usual fee is half the value of the item if ecovered with McGee isking expenses and those who object to such a seemingly high fee are eminded that Half is a lot better than nothing at all The pattern for the series is set in The Deep Blue Good by when a woman by the name of Cathy Kerr asks Trav for help ecovering a dubiously earned fortune that her dead father left hidden Trav takes the case and it leads to a smarmy but persuasive lowlife named Junior Allen And in his effort to learn about Allen Trav meets Allen s latest victim Lois Atkinson Allen had wormed his way into controlling Lois life and money and she was educed to a nearly catatonic state by the time Trav came along In addition to being a brute and a treasure hunting ival for Trav Lois eveals that Allen is also a serial apist Trav proceeds with his plan to ecover Cathy s fortune and ensure that Junior Allen meets justiceSo will I ead in the seriesYou bet The power of Trav has me under his spell drawing me in It s like music It s his voice telling you his story in a particular way I could become addicted Critics may charge that Trav epresents an outdated and politically incorrect view of masculinity and they may be ight But perhaps this misses the point Yes Trav is a womaniser much like James Bond or early Spenser And yes woman are miraculously estored by his testosterone soaked presence And yes this makes Trav an anachronism But so does McGee s disgust at the apacious development of South Florida or dislike of everything from credit cards to the limited opportunities women have in life In one classic ant Trav muses The scene is eputed to be acrawl with adorably amoral bunnies to whom sex is a pleasant social favor The new culture And they are indeed present and available in exhaustive uantity but there is a curious tastelessness about them A woman who does not guard and treasure herself cannot be of much value to anyone else They become a pretty little convenience like a guest towel Trav is a man who efuses to change much of anything He thoughtfully but forcefully maintains his independent life a life of action that makes for brisk eading and also begins to weigh on Trav I am told by the end of the seriesThanks JDM for the magnificent character Trav McGee Thanks Random House for keeping Trav alive And Cathy many thanks to you my friend for sharing Trav with meFor those interested in the books in the series they are listed here s eview of Blue can be found here 910excellent start to a classic noir series I eally liked the main character and I hope I will manage to write a indepth eview soonUpdate Other people go down to the keys and bring back shell ashtrays or mounted fish or pottery flamingos Travis McGee brings back a Lois Atkinson The souvenir fervor is the mainstay of a tourist economyCould we call this genre sunny noir As in hard boiled private dick crime investigation set in laidback luminous Florida A state who has its own share of lowlife and criminals providing plenty of work for Travis Who is not exactly a private dick but of a debt collector from difficult customers He takes a hefty share of the salvaged property allowing a leisure lifestyle between jobs He boasts at one time that he prefers to Instead of etiring at sixty I m taking it in chunks as I go along I was uite envious of Trav when I ead this but his chosen career has its drawbacks like getting beaten up
AND SHOT AT UITE OFTENshot
AT UITE OFTEN BAD AND MONEYuite often Bad and money not usually willinglyAnother eason to like and envy Travis is his esidence his castle where he is king and master of his domain Home is where the privacy is in this case The Busted Flush a 52 foot barge type houseboat he won in a poker game docked at Slip F 18 Bahia Mar Lauderdale Our hero is a bit of cynic at least in his freuent declamations against the evils of modern society His actions though speak louder than words and following him around in his investigations I developed a different portrait of a man whose anger and bitterness are the esult of actually caring too much about his fellow men actually about women but you get my drift and about his Florida homeland Carl Hiaasen writes the introduction to this novel and he is a great choice as both authors include in their books strong environmental and social militancyI m spending a lot of time on Travis before talking about plot and style because I have a feeling I m hooked on the series in for the long un and the narrator is the most important ingredient in such cases You either elate to him or you give up after the first couple of issues With my usual penchant for making inappropriate associations I drew some parallels between Travis McGee and Walden a love for the natural world a self imposed exile from the artificial society a plea for cleaner living and peace of mind Here s a sample of his ants I do not function too well on emotional motivations I am wary of them And I am wary of a lot of other things such as plastic credit cards payroll deductions insurance programs etirement benefits savings accounts Green Stamps time clocks newspapers mortgages sermons miracle fabrics deodorants check lists time payments political parties lending libraries television actresses junior chambers of commerce pageants progress and manifest destinyI am dreary 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 outines of maintaining itReality is in the enduring eyes the unspoken dreadful accusation in the enduring eyes of a worn young woman who looks at you and hopes for nothingAnd with the last phrase I finally got around to the story here Travis is asked by his current non girlfriend a saucy dancer in a topless bar to help a young woman in trouble She can t go to the police because she has been obbed by the man she has fallen in love with a former convict who tricked her imprisoned father into evealing a secret hoard buried on the girl s property Travis complains and grumbles constantly but he decides to check the story out getting and enraged as he finds out about the culprit a certain Junior Allen The worst crimes of man against woman do not appear on the statutes A smiling man uick and handy as a cat webbed with muscle ard with money now at liberty in an unsuspecting world greedy as a weasel in a hen houseThis guy forcefully seduces vulnerable women a serial statutory aper who gets away scot free because his victims blame themselves and fail to eport him to the authorities Money suddenly become irrelevant to Travis as he is put in the position of nursemaid for the broken dolls left in the wake of Junior Allen Our errant knight extends his sympathy for lost women to the larger landscape of Florida and the failure of the American Dream as he contemplates the sexual evolution of the 1960 s coupled with the lack of career choices for the young and vulnerable These are the slums of the heart Bless the bunnies These are the new people and we are making no place for them We hold the dream in front of them like a carrot and finally we say sorry you can t have anyI should caution against picturing Travis as a knight in shining armor He is uite usty and amoral both in his methods of obtaining information which don t ule out torture and intimidation and in his own predatory interest in womenThe novel is fast paced and tightly written free of bloat and well balanced with dialogue social commentary and live action The main appeal for me was in getting to know Travis and I look forward to spending time in his company I don t know yet if the novel was filmed but I would sure be interested in a movie versionThanks to the guys in the Pulp eading group for picking this up as the February choice Third Time s a Charm Cathy s First Love StillFor anyone considering eading the Travis McGee series first book published in 1964 with a total of 21 books in the series this book should definitely be ead first It lays the ground work for who McGee eally is how he feels about society women and Florida in general These are important basics for eading the series since the character for me is so very important Reading the Long Blue Goodbye for me was like seeing an old friend no I take that back an 's wary of credit cards etirement benefits political parties mortgages and television He only works when his. Ld lover and we parted ways amicability so many years ago but it s good for him to be back in my hands We both had other elationships in our absence from each other but that spark is still there as strong as ever Elvis Cole well he ll just have to wait a bit Philip Marlowe and Vachss Burke I ll be back with you shortly Have some business to finish with TravIn his first adventure Trav helps Cathy from Candle Key in the Keys of course Cathy he helps Cathy It s meant to be it s in the stars Trav Travis McGee Owner of the Busted Flush Won in a Poker Gameand Docked at Bahia Mar Slip F 18 in Fort Lauderdale FLJohn D MacDonald by the way was a great word is not strong enough writer with a wonderful sense of place in all his books He wrote mostly mysteries some frightening than others such as Cape Fear which I ve yet been able to finish First time eader good for you if not what s stopping you And you women out there I met him first You guys well hummm Face it you love him too especially his sensitive side eh image error This book should have been called To Catch a Rapist You Have to Think Like a Rapist I d always heard good things about John D MacDonald s Travis McGee series so I decided I d start at the beginning and bought the first couple of books in the series After eading The Deep Blue Good by however I don t have much interest in eading any The main problem I had with this book is its protagonist Travis McGee is a self important asshole who overexplains his trite beach bum philosophy any chance he gets which invariably stops the narrative dead in its tracks But the worst part about him is his attitude toward the ladies McGee sees himself as God s gift to women but in eality is one step away from being a date apist McGee is the only fully ealized character in this book The women are all wholly defined by their physical characteristics McGee is a harder and thorough judge of women s bodies than Lorenzo Lamas He notices every pucker and imperfection and ascribes to them character in a way that seems almost medieval Nevertheless MacDonald is clearly under the impression that McGee is a sensitive sexy and intelligent man who understands women and what they need which only makes things creepierAnyway The Deep Blue Good by is all about Travis McGee tracking down a thief and serial apist named Junior Allen As McGee gets closer to Allen he has an unerring ability to know which young girl in a group is the most vulnerable and innocent and therefore the ipest prospect for violation by Allen The plot could have been interesting but because of McGee s attitude towards life and love it ends up just being weird and creepyAlso anyone named Travis who prefers to be called Trav is a fucking prick This is a novel that put John D MacDonald 1916 1986 on my short list of favorite authors between El Leonard and Stephen King even though I can just barely ecommend it Published in 1964 The Deep Blue Good by is the debut of Travis McGee Salvage Consultant in south Florida who over the course of twenty one novels titled with every color in the spectrum save for black or white ecovers missing items As plots go it s as outine as any airport paperback but is wet with nautical atmosphere and in the wake of President Kennedy s assassination also stiff with a historically keen male nihilism that sets it apartMoored in Lauderdale aboard the 52 foot houseboat Busted Flush won where else but in a private poker session Travis McGee is introduced idling the afternoon away with Chookie McCall a dancer and choreographer who hasn t known Travis long enough to figure out whether he eally does find things for people keeping half of its value Chookie just so happens to know someone looking for something and has invited her over McGee hears the woman out Cathy Kerr is a dancer whose father served in the Air Transport Command in India and Burma during the war and brought home an item of awesome value Cathy just doesn t know what it wasWally Kerr was taken away when Cathy was nine years old sentenced to Leavenworth for beating an officer to death A year ago a smiling man named Ambrose A Junior Allen arrived in Candle Key claiming to be a cellmate of her father s Shacking up with Cathy Junior spent most of his time digging around for something Waking one morning to find the man gone and their two driveway markers smashed Kathy is sure that he stole an object her father had meant for her Junior Allen eturned to Candle Key with money and a cruiser egistered as the Play Pen seducing another vulnerable woman in the area named Lois Atkinson Kathy asks Travis McGee to help her She looked at me with soft apologetic brown eyes all dressed in her best to come talk to me The world had done its best to subdue and humble her but the edge of her good tough spirit showed through I found
I Had Taken An Irrationalhad taken an irrational to Junior Allen that smiling man And I do not function too well on emotional motivations I am wary of them And I am wary of a lot of other things such as plastic credit cards payroll deductions insurance programs etirement benefits savings accounts Green Stamps time clocks newspapers mortgages sermons miracle fabrics deodorants checklists time payments political parties lending libraries television actresses junior chambers of commerce pageants progress and manifest destinyDriving a 1936 Rolls Royce that s been converted into a pickup truck and that he calls Miss Agnes Travis
starts by checking out Junior Allen He judges Junior to be a formidable man 38 in good shapeby checking out Junior Allen He judges Junior to be a formidable man 38 in good shape of forcing shy women to give him what he wants stealing something of value and converting it to cash in New York then possessing the nerve to eturn to the scene of his crime for a new victim Trav accompanies Cathy on a visit to her younger sister Christine in an attempt to learn about their father and what he might have brought back to interest Junior so much McGee then ventures to the end of Candle Key to pay a visit to Lois AtkinsonFinding Lois Atkinson to be a tall slender woman in her early thirties McGee is surprised to find her falling apart from her experience with Junior Allen Malnourished and alcoholic she is actually close to death until Travis invites himself in and begins to care for her calling a doctor to examine her and slowly gaining her confidence He learns little to nothing about Junior Allen except for what Lois says in her sleep and once she s ecovered physically from her ordeal Travis invites her to stay with him aboard the Busted Flush Travis soon takes off to New York and Harlingen Texas to speak with two army buddies of Sergeant Wally KerrTravis determines that Cathy s father started out swapping Missionary Bonds purchased in China for cash in the States before ultimately graduating to view spoilerbuying gemstones in Ceylon and smuggling them home in canteens hide spoiler Absolutely wonderful What a great start to a famous series 5 StarsAfter eading the entire series this is one of my very favourite McGeesI love the early 1960 s Florida keys setting MacDonald s flowing and spare descriptive prose is wonderful almost like the words don t exist as if MacDonald just places the images directly into your mind Very Hemingway Truly amazing As usual with my eviews please first ead the publisher s blurbsummary of the book Thank you Bonus From the 1970 Darker Than Amber movie starring Rod Taylor pictures of the producers ideas of McGee s The Busted FlushFull size image hereThe elationship between Travis and Chook is wonderful honest loving espectful sexy natural The prose is open and honest and spare with good pacing A delightful way to begin this first of series Travis McGee It s clear than even in 1962 MacDonald is a proto feminist His instincts are honourable yet sexy espectful but powerful AwesomeChook e Michael Pritchard is the eader the audio uality was terrible on these old second hand tapes but I m eally glad I listened to it While I ve ead a few of these books over the years I ve never ead this the first one Originally published in the mid 60 s the Travis McGee series was one of the staples of detective fiction for the next 10 or 15 years No this eally isn t a 4 star book but it gets an extra one for being so popular making such a wonderful break from the prudish 50 s One of the interesting things about McGee is that he has plenty of opportunities for casual sex with beach bunnies eady to hand while he occasionally indulges he does so without much enthusiasm like a man who drops by McDonalds to simply satisfy his hunger The meal isn t great but it will do until he gets around to finding something better he knows it He s somewhat disappointed in himself for doing so Of course he does find meaningful elationships but things arely work out the way he plansMcGee is no James Bond like Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel Our self professed tough guy doesn t like to work lives in semi permanent etirement He only takes on a job when there is a good chance of a substantial eturn then takes 50% plus expenses or so he says It s fun watching him give in ationalize his departures from his hard hearted intentions The action is pretty well done uite believable McGee can take care of himself he s a pretty big guy but he s no superman He lives aboard a house boat so there is a lot of marine action off the Florida coast too It all seems pretty accurate to me not terribly dated Oh it s set firmly in the 60 s but he s a fairly progressive sortNot great literature but a fun filling uick ead a bit than just a candy book Some of McGee s observations of people are uite interesting somewhat thought provoking I m going to try to find some of these from my local library hopefully for download Cassettes are such a PITA after dealing with MP3 Cash uns out and his ule is simple he'll help you find whatever was taken from you as long as he can keep ha.
John D. MacDonald