I decided to take a look at some of my old JDM Gold Medal
books, and at the same time to do an overview of my
impression of Travis McGee.
In general, If my one recent reading and my recollection is
correct, the McGee books followed a predictable paradigm. A
wounded bird (female) comes to Travis to find something that
belongs to her. Someone has either stolen it or conned it
from her. (side note: The wounded bird is often from one of
his past books--if not from a past book from McGee's
Travis works to get it back for her and along the line he
discovers things about her that he never knew before.
Sometimes they are not good things, more often they are
additional parts of her life that made her a wounded
Along the way, McGee uncovers the ugly past and present of
others as well, and he struggles to get back what belongs to
her. He is usually successful, and he ends up, more often
than not in the bed of his wounded bird. His success in
getting her property, is often only partially successful, but
Not too long ago, I ranked John D. McDonald up there with
Hammett and Chandler. In reading him again, and in
reassessing him, I find myself putting him in a separate
underclass with Ross McDonald, who more closely follows the H
& C private-eye pattern.
What McDonald did most successfully, in my opinion was to
write in a hard-boiled style that took on an element of
poetry, while at the same time sentimentalizing his main
That being said, I'm going to take another look at his
potboilers, the most memorable of which is
*A Key to the Suite,* which to the best of my memory without looking at it now is not a mystery. It did however provided me with one of my all-time favorite lines. (Paraphrased.) *Like so many women with long, bleached-blond hair, she looked as if she had come off a production line.* Or maybe it was comparing two long-haired blondes. I'll give the exact quote when I reread the book in the next few days.
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