Author Rating: A+

A Key To The Suite (read 5/15/09) recommended

John D. MacDonald, who died in 1986, wrote dozens of crime and suspense novels and short stories. His best known characterTravis McGee appeared in 21 of them. There is crime in this one but this is not a crime story, it’s a psychological tale of a sales convention, a sexual liaison and blackmail. Published in 1962, there is a lot here that is very dated but it’s an interesting look at corporate culture. The men described in this book are the fathers and grandfathers of today’s business executives.

Pale Gray For Guilt (read 5/24/09) recommended

Published in 1968, this is the ninth in MacDonald’s Travis McGee series and, like the others, set in Florida. McGee’s old friend “Tush” Bannon is driven to bankruptcy and murdered so that his ten acres of land on the Shawana River can be had cheap by developers. Simply, it is a story of revenge and retribution. McGee sets up several cons to extract substantial sums of money from the perpetrators both to punish them and to provide for the widow and her children.

In addition to being a gripping story, it’s interesting for its social commentary from a 1960s perspective. Some of the writing is a little confused but that is really a very minor fault.

The Dreadful Lemon Sky (read 10/13/09) recommended

Published in 1974, this Travis McGee novel begins when a young woman who he hadn’t seen in several years turns up wanting him to hold a large amount of cash for her. Several days later McGee learns she has been hit and killed by an automobile, so he and his friend Meyer go to Bayside, Florida to find out why she’s dead and where the money came from.

It turns out that Carrie had been involved in marijuana trafficking, and before the book is done three more people are dead.

What I enjoy most about MacDonald is his exploration of social issues, in this case the sale and use of marijuana.

Barrier Island (read 1/31/10) recommended

John D. MacDonald is one of those rare writers who got better and better as the years went by. Barrier Island, published the year he died, in 1986, is proof of that.

Wade Rowley is a partner in a real estate company in a booming town on the Mississippi coast who discovers his partner has gotten them involved in a shady deal involving a barrier island. It is, as the jacket blurb says, “a novel about decency and greed, good and evil, about the barriers we build inside ourselves to govern our behavior and how those barriers are eroded.”