Monday, August 24, 2009

The Turquoise Lament


I wish I could be like John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee. It’s 60’s / 70’s Fort Lauderdale and Travis beats up all the bad guys, beds all the beautiful women, sucks down the meaty boozy drinks - all while solving all the impossible cases. Ultimately, he makes his own way in this world. He doesn’t go out trying to solve problems or look for mysteries. Trouble just always finds him and when it does, you can be sure it will get its ass kicked.

There are dozens of Travis McGee mysteries – one of my earliest posts dealt with The Lonely Silver Rain. There’s no mistaking why mystery writers construct these leading characters as they do – because their target audience is men with marginal control over lives that contain little in the way of adventure and lusty mayhem. Let’s face it – James Bond never did paperwork and Travis McGee never has to punch a time card. (Slimbo learned the hard way that publishers aren’t fond of heroic protagonists who sit in cubicles.)

I brought The Turquoise Lament with me to Hawaii as part of the book takes place there. Any time I’m due to vacation anywhere involving palm trees, I take along some John D. MacDonald. This book has Travis trying to save an old flame, the daughter of a sunken-treasure aficionado. There’s psycho husbands, corrupt lawyers, complex business arrangements and (cue music) murder……

Anyway. Great stuff – totally captures 1970’s laid-back malaise. Also - I borrowed this righteous 1973 first edition from the library – awesome over-the-top illustration of McGee on the cover. Dig those threads!

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