From: abc@wt.net
Date: 19 Jun 2003

Before I talk about JDM's first novel, I want to say that Richard Moore's post on an uncollected JDM story reminds me that there are a lot of those, especially in the SF field. JDM wrote for many of the pulps and digests in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and most of the stories I've read in them have been excellent. I'm convinced JDM could have been the equal of Heinlein if he hadn't decided to go another route.

Possibly one reason he chose the field of crime fiction was the success of books like THE BRASS CUPCAKE, his first novel, published by Gold Medal in 1950. Re-reading this one last night, I was reminded of how much it's like a Travis McGee book. The first person narrator, Cliff Bartells, is a recovery specialist for an insurance company. Same job as T. McGee, except that McGee is a freelancer. The narrative voice is very much like McGee's, with the same social commentary about Florida, same opinions about women, etc. There are two women, including the Wounded Bird, who of course is healed by a little sexual therapy. The other woman has what guys in the '50s would have called "the nesting instinct," and you know by page five that old Cliff isn't about to make a nest with her. The only thing missing from the story is the type of villain that MacDonald did so well in the McGee books, but I think the prototype is there, peeking around the corners. The story itself is as fast-paced and entertaining as you'd expect from JDM. I hadn't read the book in years, and it was fun to revisit it.
 I think JDM must have had it in the back of his mind when he created Travis McGee.

Bill Crider

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