An old book which never grows old. The author died min the eighties, but his books are timeless of an era when living on a boat and being Robin Hood was not unbelieveable. A forerunner of Jack Reacher.
I now believe that Travis McGee, like all great detectives, exists outside of time. How can a novel written over 30 years ago speak to us so directly without reference to its era? In BRIGHT ORANGE FOR THE SHROUD, knight errant McGee rights wrongs committed by an impromptu consortium which exists to defraud and destroy its victim utterly. McGee flushes out the book's ultra-villain, Boo Waxwell, and does what he can to rectify the wrongs done to an innocent man. All, I might add, without reference to the Cold War, Carnaby Street, Hippies, or anything else which would have identified the book as a product of the Sizties. MacDonald's villains are the seven deadly sins, with an occasional personification of evil from the swamps like rapist-murderer-extortionist Waxwell thrown in. A wonderful read which I highly recommend.
The plot (without spoilers): an old acquaintance comes to Travis McGee's houseboat, starving, beaten, at the end of his tether. He has been swindled of his small fortune, and hopes McGee will take on his case in his usual fashion: take the money back from the swindlers/thieves/knaves, and (minus expenses) give half back to the victin. The other half is so he (McGee) can take his pension in bite-sized pieces, loafing in Florida. But, as usual, the villains are not an easy mark: they'll play *very* dirty to keep their gains... but that is what a salvage consultant like Travis is used to!
The author: John D MacDonald (1916-1986) wrote many 'hardboiled' crime thrillers, and twenty-one books in the Travis McGee series. Both Carl Hiaasen and Stephen King love his books!
My opinion: and so do I. Well-written, fast-paced, with little bits of homespun philosophizing here and there (in this one there is a good one on friendship/acquaintance differences, for instance), serious villains (Boo Waxwell!!) and utterly believable people, conversations, and happenings. This is a trashy novel of the superior kind, and this is among the best in the McGee series!
I've been reading the whole series of Travis McGee 'colour' books over the last few years, this is the penultimate one in my list, although relatively early in the series. If I've got this far with the series I obviously must be a fan...this one is more of the same. McGee takes on board (literally) a damaged 'good' guy and sets out to right the wrongs done to him. In doing so he comes up against another of the plausible and very nasty psychopaths that feature so frequently in these books. Much of the action is on board the Busted Flush, his economist friend doesn't feature much, there are girls - of course - though not so much of the cringe-making sex, McGee is relatively celibate in this one...as usual McGee serves as fantasy role model and mouthpiece for the author. If you are new to this excellent series I'd advise you to start with the first one - The Deep Blue Goodbye - and try to read them in order, although this isn't essential.
A typical John D. MacDonald novel ! Written in the 'Marlowe' mould Well crafted and a very enjoyable read. If you've not yet discovered MacDonald, get out there and buy a copy. You don't know what you're missing.