Sunday, January 11, 2015

"The Long Lavender Look" by John D. MacDonald

Boychik Lit Book Review - No. 18


Here’s my book review of The Long Lavender Look by John D. MacDonald.

Time was, I was a big fan of MacDonald (he was still alive then). I believe I read all of his Travis McGee books, of which this is one. Each has a color in the title. The power of this mystery series is in the genre and the attitude – dirty dealings and benign cynicism.

Trav lives on a houseboat he won in a poker game in Fort Lauderdale. He’s a salvage expert – he goes after missing boats, money, or wives. He always keeps half of whatever he finds. The baddest guys try to stop him, because they covet the same things.

Trav is a very 'Sixties hero, with parallels to James Bond. Like Bond, McGee is a garbage-collector of the vile detritus left behind by the world's evil geniuses and idiotic criminals. And also like Bond, Trav treats women badly and assumes they like it. And, as in the Bond stories, the beautiful women he loves too much end up dead, usually horribly so, at the hands of the elusive monster-du-jour. Revenge then adds to his justification for giving back as bad as his girlie got, or worse.

As an education in the underside of Florida real-estate schemes and political corruption, MacDonald's books are fascinating, unexpected discoveries. You also get a strong dose of macroeconomic theory anytime McGee engages his neighbor Meyer Meyer to help him understand the intricacies of bribing politicians or laundering money.

But what strikes me as I pick up this book again is the depth of the cruelty MacDonald conjures. It's really ugly, voyeuristic, more shocking than the scummiest story in today's news. But if it thrills you to see powerful bad guys bite the dirt, Travis McGee is your man.

For Boychik Lit, I’m Gerald Everett Jones. My recent book for male audiences is Mr. Ballpoint, about an outrageous huckster and his mild mannered son, whose marketing of the first ballpoint pen triggered the wacky Pen Wars of 1945. It’s a humorous tale about the joys of entrepreneurship, and the bad guys don’t bite the dirt – they drown in their own red ink. Mr. Ballpoint, capitalism can be fun. Oh, and be sure to catch these podcasts on BoychikLit.com.

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