TRAVIS MCGEE Re-Unites Lehane And DiCaprio
The Deep Blue Good-by introduces readers to McGee, his place of residence, the Busted Flush (a houseboat he won in a poker game), and its mooring place, slip F-18 at the Bahia Mar Marina in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In the early chapters we learn that McGee is a bachelor, a man who can be friends with ladies as well as have a passion for them, and a man of principle (although they are somewhat at the mercy of his uncertain emotional condition and his circumstances at the moment; in McGee’s own words, “Some of them I’ll bend way, way, over, but not break.”). We also learn that McGee is by occupation a salvage consultant, a concept almost certainly coined and developed by MacDonald. (As a “salvage consultant,” McGee undertakes to recover for its rightful owner money or property of which the owner has been wrongfully deprived and has no other hope of recovering, taking half its value as his fee.) McGee works when he has to, almost always only taking jobs when his supply of money (kept in an ingenious “hidey-hole” aboard the Flush) is low. In one tale, however, McGee avenges the murder of a long-time friend. In another, he is asked by the daughter of a friend to find out why her husband is trying to kill her. While he can be mercenary at times, he is not a mercenary. Another feature of the McGee series is the seemingly unending parade of colorful and invariably evil villains whom McGee must contend with in order to make a recovery for his clients. In this first story the antagonist is Junior Allen, a smiling, seemingly friendly man, large, “cat quick”, powerful, and pathologically evil. The story begins with a fortune smuggled home after World War II by a soldier who was a native of the Florida Keys. This soldier killed another soldier just prior to his discharge, went on the run back to the Keys, and buried his treasure there. He was later captured by the U.S. Army and sent to a military prison, where he met Junior Allen. Allen discovered vague details about the fortune hidden in the Keys and after his release from prison went there to find it. The story depicts the psychotic behavior of Allen as he evolves from thief to serial rapist to murderer. We see McGee’s savvy, guile, and physical prowess as he works methodically to locate Allen and eventually make the recovery. As is thematic in many of the McGee books, however, he pays a heavy price for the successful recovery. Throughout the series, in fact, it is debatable as to whether McGee ever makes a recovery in which the costs outweigh the gain.