On April 1st our History Of Mystery Class will look at one of our most loved authors, John D. MacDonald. MacDonald has inspired authors from King and Hiaasen to George Pelecanos. He put Florida on the crime fiction map and gave us one swinging hero in Travis McGee.
McGee lives the male fantasy on his boat, The Busted Flush, sailing around The Keys, drinking, and bedding women. To support his lifestyle, he hires himself out as a “salvage expert”. He will retrieve any stolen or lost item for half its value. His methods of recovery run from detective work, con jobs, to just plain stealing it back. Many times he is aided by his buddy Meyer, a hairy, genial, urbane, and brilliant economist.
MacDonald has an easy going style that reflects his introspective yet cavalier hero. His book Darker Than Amber begins with Travis narrating: “We were about to call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge.”
Then for most of the chapter, he tells about the few days before, bumming around with Meyer and “rejuvinating” an married ex-girlfriend. The tale is entertaining and Travis’s voice and thoughts so cool, you almost forget about the woman in the water until he returns to her at the end of the chapter. Even after that, it still takes a while for the plot to kick in as Travis and Meyer try to figure out the mysterious damsel and if she will causes as much distress as she’s in. When it comes down to it, if you remove McGee’s comments and philosophies, his thoughts about what developers are doing to his beloved Florida, his banter with Meyer, and Meyer’s philosophies, you would have only a third of the book left. The plotting is sharp and he gives us one hell of a climatic brawl, but Darker Than Amber, like the other McGee books, is about hanging out with an old and interesting friend.
Come hang out with us on April 1st at 6pm as we discuss Darker Than Amber, McGee, and MacDonald. The book is 10% off to those who attend and we’ll be giving away a few other titles in the series, as well. Before the discussion at 4pm, we’ll also be screening the hard-to-find 1970 film version of Darker Than Amber starring Rod Taylor as Travis McGee.
The History of Mystery Class is a free class that meets on the first Sunday of each month on BookPeople’s third floor to discuss the roots of the genre from its beginning to present day. All are welcome to join us!