From Library Journal
MacDonald, whose 21 Travis McGee novels represent arguably the best U.S. mystery series of the past 50 years, died in 1986, leaving behind a legion of fans. Sadly, Travis McGee seems lost amid today's hip, violent, and politically correct private eyes and series detectives, so much so that most of today's younger mystery readers may never experience this National Book Award-winning series. Yet audio producers seem committed to keeping the series alive for a new generation of readers and audiobook fans, as this example proves. Bright Orange for the Shroud tells of a dangerous confidence scheme that traps one of McGee's friends. Soon, McGee infiltrates the group and takes on its sexy operative, with explosive results. In A Deadly Shade of Gold, McGee comes into possession of an evil-looking, solid gold Aztec icon that leads to a perilous fortune. Reader Darren McGavin, who narrates the entire series for Random Audio, employs a world-weary, laid-back voice that is perfect for the enigmatic McGee. Recommended wherever good mysteries circulate. Random Audio offers the entire Travis McGee line in abridged format; libraries seeking unabridged versions should look to Books on TapeR.?Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the
It tends to be later in the Travis McGee series when the tales turn significantly darker (say, after The Tan and Sandy Silence), but this early installment, number five, displays a strong hint of what is to come. It starts, as so many of the 21 novels do, with the appearance, on the deck of McGee’s houseboat, The Busted Flush, of a friend in trouble. This time it’s Sam Taggart, a fellow adventurer committed to living by his wits; unfortunately, Sam’s wits aren’t quite as quick as Travis’, and he has landed in a serious jam south of the border. But if he can just peddle the Aztec idol he has lifted from serious bad guys, Sam should be able to start a new life in Ft. Lauderdale with Nora, the girl he foolishly dumped before leaving for Mexico. There are no new lives to be had. McGee and Nora find Sam dead on the floor of a sleazy motel, his throat professionally slashed from ear to ear. The two of them set off for Mexico to extract several pounds of flesh and, hopefully, salvage the profit that would have been Sam’s from the sale of the idol. So far, so good. We’re on familiar McGee ground here: the salvage operation is afoot; the wounded dove, Nora, is ensconced on a beach in Mexico, prime for some psychic and sexual healing, which Trav delivers with his usual aplomb. And, of course, MacDonald has ample opportunity to rail against the absurdities of American tourists on display in Mexico. But then the wind changes. The bad guys are hard to find, being both too numerous and too ambiguous; the wrong bodies start to pile up; and Travis begins to feel the most unlikely of emotions: intimations of vulnerability. And, finally, a very curious thing happens: our beach-bum hero transforms into the novel’s real wounded dove, a teeth-chattering, head-hanging wreck of a man, in desperate need of rejuvenation. The Aztec idol plot gets a little messy, requiring too much explication to sort out who did what and stole what and from whom, but for committed series readers, this novel offers the first good look at just how shrewd MacDonald can be. Through four books, he has eased his readers into letting the comforts of formula fiction roll over us like a gentle wave: we’re grown accustomed to the rhythms of watching McGee work and play; we’ve chuckled at MacDonald’s sociopolitical commentary; and, best of all, we’ve found little bits of our fantasy selves in Travis’ nonconformity and his unshakable savviness. Now, suddenly, the wave is no longer gentle, and we’re tossed onto the rocks of ugly reality. We bounce free, of course, just as McGee’s teeth eventually stop chattering, but the warning MacDonald has issued is clear: get comfortable, that’s what formula fiction is for, but don’t take comfort for granted. --Bill Ott