John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee Books

I’ve just started reading John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee books. I’ve only finished the first novel in the series, The Deep Blue Good-by, but I’ve got the next three books in the series ordered via Amazon. They should be here today or on Monday. I’m really excited about them.

The Deep Blue Good-By

The Travis McGee books were written from 1964 to 1984. I’ve read that the author, John D. MacDonald, considered the books in the series to be one long story about the character, so it’s unfortunate that MacDonald died before being able to write an ending to his grand story. But that’s not going to stop me from reading the entire series, either.

And it turns out that I’m not alone in my new love for the works of John D. MacDonald, either. Stephen King cites John D. MacDonald as one of the big influences on his writing. (Richard Matheson is another writer King mentions.) In fact, MacDonald wrote the introduction (or the preface, I can never tell the difference) to King’s short story collection, Night Shift, which is full of great stories.

Who is Travis McGee? Without spoiling the storyline too much, I’ll give a quick summary. Travis McGee lives on a huge houseboat off the coast of Florida. He only works when he’s out of money, and when he does work, he’s a “recovery specialist.” If someone has stolen something of yours, then he’ll recover it for you. His fee? Half of what he recovers plus expenses.

MacDonald’s writing reminds me of Raymond Chandler, and it also reminds me of Ernest Hemingway. It’s top notch stuff, and I’m surprised that a movie franchise revolving around Travis McGee never took off–he’s a much more interesting character than James Bond, for example. (Although there have been a couple of Travis McGee movies–one starring Rod Taylor and the other starring Sam Elliott.)

If you get a chance, find copies of the Travis McGee books and read them. You won’t be sorry.

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