Thursday, July 10, 2008

BooksFirst - June 2008

Books Bought
Fodor's Cape Cod, Nantucket & Martha's Vineyard 2008

Books Read
A Purple Place For Dying by John D. MacDonald


Months ago I began a resolution to re-read in order the Travis McGee novels of John D. MacDonald. I read The Deep Blue Good Bye way back in 2006 and then never followed through. I had hit a roadblock when I realized that I did not have a reading copy of the third book in the series, A Purple Place For Dying.

I have copies of all the first printings (as shown on left) and I have multiple copies of later printings for many JDM books. This is because the first printings are often indistinguishable from later printings except by looking for subtle clues in book numbers and price. I'll often pick up an older book that is a good price and then check to see if it is collectible later.

A good rule of thumb is that any JDM book with a real ISBN number is a reprint. I finally broke down and bought a vintage reprint from an internet dealer for a few bucks, still cheaper than a new copy would have cost.

Purple takes Travis McGee, the freelance "salvage consultant", to the Southwest to help some bitchy ditz get back her inheritance. A sniper's bullet kills her and he is left with a quandry: Should he stick around and get to the bottom of this murder even if there is no longer any money to be made? Of course he does. And since, like James Bond, Trav beds at LEAST one girl per book, the death of the heiress and main female character leaves a plot quandary. When half-way through the book he meets the frigid sister of his dead client's lover, you can practically hear the porn soundtrack bass guitarist tuning up. Travis finds the murderer and takes said sister to her conveniently desolate Caribbean beach house for some sexual healing.

This is one of the lesser McGee novels, mostly because it takes Travis too far from the water while MacDonald is still getting his sea-legs with the character. It does have some glimmers of foreshadowed greatness to come. The story involves a crooked land deal, which would become a plot staple in books to come, and it introduces (off-screen) McGee's future sidekick noted economist Meyer.

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