RARA-AVIS: JDM -- an overview of Travis McGee

From: Bludis Jack ( buildsnburns@yahoo.com)
Date: 10 Jun 2003

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 pre-series past.)

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 bird.

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 satisfyingly so.

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 female characters.

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.

Jack Bludis

===== http://JackBludis.com

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