Top positive review
Kind of Blue
on 8 November 2017
The opening title in the Travis McGee series combines fast-paced action with slower ruminations on the human condition. MacDonald introduces us to his series hero as a 'salvage' expert. McGee works when he needs cash, and the deal is that he'll get back something you've lost for 50% of the take. That doesn't quite work out in this first novel, but it sets the framework in which the series will work. Combining elements of crime fiction with all-together darker observations of what it is to be human and fallable, MacDonald's prose manages to be very sexist at times, and very revealing and quite disturbing at others. The power that men wield over woman is a central theme in The Deep Blue Goodbye, and it makes for uncomfortable reading at times. The finale is action-packed and violent, but that's not the most memorable element here. MacDonald clearly thought deeply about social issues of his time, and it is this deeper sense of concern with society and change in general that adds interest to the start of the Travis McGee series.
John D MacDonald enthusiast Lee Child provides the introduction to these versions of the books. It's a shame that it is the same introduction 21 times over the course of the series. For a broader review of MacDonald's work and the influence, Child's excellent Radio 4 programme '21 Shades of Noir' comes highly recommended. To set the scene and context for this influential 21-book series, it could hardly be bettered, and helped convince me it was high time I started reading them.