A penny saved is ridiculous.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

No guilty pleasure here

In the previous book in John D. MacDonald's famous thriller series, One Fearful Yellow Eye, our hero Travis McGee gained a little self knowledge regarding his dealings with women, developing some insight into why he’s done the things he’s done in his past relationships.  That new self awareness illuminates his actions here in Pale Gray For Guilt, as McGee juggles a new love interest and a case involving a gentle but clueless friend who was utterly destroyed by unscrupulous real estate developers.  Related to the latter issue, McGee undertakes revenge this time out, not his usual “I keep half if I can recover your stolen stuff” arrangement with a client. 

Both the revenge plot and the love story keep the pages turning, with MacDonald surprising me with how much the latter plotline was able to move me.  There’s been passion in this series before, but I never saw MacDonald do genuine emotion and sentiment so effectively.  In the other storyline, the stock market con engineered by Travis and his accountant friend Meyer gets a little dense with detail at times, but don’t worry about keeping it all straight: it’s always clear why Travis and Meyer are pulling a particular move on the amoral suits, even if the mechanics of the swindle get a little thick.

But as entertaining as the caper is (and it is entertaining, despite the technical details occasionally weighing things down), it’ll probably be the connection between Travis McGee and the feisty but secretive beauty Puss Killian that you’ll likely remember most about the book.  It likely captured the imagination of the author, too, as the relationship is revisited- as I understand it- in the last Travis McGee book, The Lonely Silver Rain.  It’ll be tough being patient as I work my way through the series to that last novel.

Pale Gray For Guilt, the ninth book in the 21-book Travis McGee series (which ran from the mid 1960's to the early 1980's) is available in new print, Kindle, and audiobook editions.

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