Mystery author #46: John D. MacDonald

Title: One Fearful Yellow Eye
Series detective: Travis McGee
No. in series: 8 (of 21)
Year of publication: 1966
Type of mystery: Blackmail and other nefarious business
Type of investigator: Private detective
Setting & time: Chicago, Illinois, and Florida, USA; 1960s

Travis McGee responds to a call for help from his former lover, Glory Doyle Geis, and flies up to Chicago to meet her. Her brain surgeon husband had died a long, slow death and while he was dying he had managed to turn most of his assets into money which then disappeared. His grown children by his first wife are deeply suspicious of Glory, who wants to find out what happened for her own peace of mind and to prove her innocence in the matter. Travis immediately suspects blackmail, and when he starts digging he uncovers a sordid trail of blackmail and violence.

When I picked up this book to read it I knew I was about to meet one of America’s most famous fictional PIs, but I didn’t know I was in for a stylistic treat as well. MacDonald’s style is literary and erudite and Travis McGee is a philosopher who uses his brain and understanding of human nature more than muscle power to solve this case.

While the author has tried to show that McGee loves, understands and respects women, his attitude towards them comes across as paternalistic to me, which was an annoyance, but otherwise I enjoyed the book and will read more of his novels should they come my way.

Rating: A stylistic treat as well as a well plotted mystery with a though as nails detective and thriller elements. 4 stars.


Anonymous said…
The style is appealing, but McGee's sweet thoughtfulness in giving so many a po' woman just the touch of sexual healing she needs palls quickly.

Jim McCullough
Bibliophile said…
Hehe, guess that tells me what to expect if I read more of his books. Thanks for the chuckle.
Anonymous said…
I was pleased to see I am not the only person to think this way. I very much enjoyed The Deep Blue Goodbye and read a couple of other McGee novels after this one. However, McGee's 'curing' of all women's problems by sleeping with them was rapidly tiresome for me. I have been reading MacDonald post 2000 but was it less so to readers in the 1960s? (I am male.) Similarly, while MacDonald is frequently applauded for being ahead of his time with his 'green' stance, I find McGee's characterisation of this position incredibly hypocritical. I've got my great home, so the rest of you should be content with living in the city and not spoiling the everglades or the coast, etc. Indeed, I find his hypocrisy extends to most topics he comments upon. A shame really, I think I could have continued to enjoy a less smug and sanctimonious McGee, but there you go. Unfortunately, several novels I bought on the strength of the TDBG will remain unread. Readers interested in this type of fiction would be much better off looking towards the other MacDonald (Ross).
Bibliophile said…
Anon, I think that because the 1960s were a less politically correct era, the sexism would not have grated as much back then as it does today.

Thanks for the recommendation of Ross MacDonald. I have a couple of his books lined up to read.

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