RARA-AVIS: Gold Medal: McGee #6

From: William Denton ( buff@pobox.com)
Date: 26 Aug 2002

Over the weekend I read a fifth or sixth Gold Medal, BRIGHT ORANGE FOR THE SHROUD (Gold Medal #d1573, 1965), the sixth in the Travis McGee series. It must have been a while since I last read it because all I remembered was the fight at the end that takes place on the Busted Flush. (The Busted Flush is 56 feet long, has a 20 foot beam and draws four feet. There are other details about it in the book. Has anyone ever done a sketch of what it would look like? For a long time I had a very wrong impression of what he meant by "houseboat.")

The back cover:

| The fragile-looking blonde was like a black widow spider
| feeding on her mate till he was broke and drained dry, a walking
| zombie stumbling aboard the celebrated houseboat The Busted Flush....
| And there lolls Travis McGee, that free-lance knight in slightly
| tarnished armor whose well-known nose for a dollar twitches at the money
| smell. This time the scent leads by some bizarre routes to a vicious
| nest of confidence artists and doublecrossers who inhabit some of those
| baleful parts of Florida the tourists never see."

A friend of McGee's lost all his money, $400,000 (in 1965 money, too), in a big con. The "fragile-looking blonde" married him, she happened to know someone who just happened to have an opening on a land deal that would quadruple the money invested if he could be persuaded to let the mark in, and pretty soon he's been milked dry for all he's got, his wife has run off, and he got beat up too. He eventually makes his way to McGee. McGee and Chookie McCall (other women's names in the book: Leaf, Dilly) whip him into shape, Chookie by being nurturing and loving, McGee by being tough, and both by putting him through workouts. Then they go after the grifters.

There are some very nice scenes, such as when McGee meets one of the con men, and some very grim ones, such as when McGee, immobile, hears a rape. I read this on a bus and it made the trip go by in no time at all. More solid stuff from JDM.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/ : Caveat lector.

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