A Purple Place for Dying

A Purple Place for Dying - John D. MacDonald “I’m a high-level Robin Hood. I steal from thieves.” Travis McGee, running low on boat cash, heads to Arizona to help a dame who wants out from her marriage and thinks her much older hubby has frittered away her family loot. “Forget it baby,” says Travis, smelling trouble “not my gig” at which point, um, a sniper in the treeline shoots the woman dead. Travis, thinking fast, returns with the cops and finds…the body is gone. That’s the sort of hook that buys the writer a lot of latitude when it comes to his philosophical discursions even if, hand on heart, very little of this narrative would survive the kindest feminist reading. We're not talking "Gor" levels of misogyny but McGee needs to turn the TV on and watch Emma Peel for an hour or two. The storytelling is better this time round, the twists keep coming, the prose is very moreish and considering these events take place after a novel in which Trav got off his head on psychoactives and almost lost his mind (and this is the second McGee in which a spiked drink plays a part) there’s some pleasing continuity. There’s also a reset button at the end allowing Trav’s search for the next portion of his retirement fund to continue unimpeded by any of those pesky women who keep needing him to mend them. And yes, three books in, it’s definitely women he helps/fleeces. One suspects he’d have a leaner time of it with millennials or, indeed, any woman in any harder-boiled fiction. It's a good storyteller bringing this reader back for more.