Meyer to McGee Its early December as this unusual Travis McGee novel begins. Whereas most of the McGee novels have mystery and suspense laced with resonating observations about life and society, with MacDonald casting a cloud on the sunshine of Florida with his insightful pondering of the misled, this one has those observations and insights front and center, with the mystery and suspense the underscore. While it makes this an atypical Travis McGee novel in some ways, it does not make it a bad one. He realized his readers were paperback readers, and knowing this one would be marketed toward people who might not have read a Travis McGee before, you can almost feel him taking the pulp edges off McGee, softening his hero just a tad to make him a bit more vulnerable and fallible. The basic plot of a likable, affable sociopath who fools both McGee and Meyer would be used again and in a more resonating way in MacDonalds next to last Travis McGee novel, Cinnamon Skin. Over two decades, Travis McGee became a household name because readers couldnt wait to get their hands on the next novel. McGee has made the trip from Florida at the request of Pidge Brindle, and the Travis McGee devotee can already sense this one is going to be a bit different from the others. McGee remembers how lovely Pidge was at seventeen, stowing aboard his boat to offer herself to him. A year ago, Pidge married Howie Brindle, a big, uncomplicated and easygoing giant who may not be the brightest bulb in the cupboard, but works hard and is very likable. With readers sympathy firmly in Pidges court, in a brilliantly written scene, we meet Howie, and begin to have the same doubts as McGee: He let go and spun away. McGee doesnt plant ideas, it is Pidge who realizes she doesnt love Howie, no matter how much she wants to, and shes created this elaborate ruse to explain why. But before Meyer makes McGee think long and hard about his own mortality, McGee has to tell Howie that Pidge doesnt want to be with him: He looked down. Soon McGee realizes that he loves Pidge, then he gets her letter. Written from Pidges viewpoint, he perfectly captures her female voice, her thoughts and feelings, her excitement about the future she plans with McGee. It goes on for four pages, and will ring absolutely true to any man who has ever received a love letter. As McGee finally admits to his best friend, and one of the great sidekicks in mystery fiction: I keep thinking that other people have friends, and they talk about ball games and the weather and laugh a lot. Well, finally we get to the Travis McGee part of the novel with which were more familiar. There is sunken treasure, and a lot of money left to Pidge by her father, Ted. Theres a guy named Collier, some blackmail, and Pidge somewhere out there on the big blue ocean with Howie Brindle, making one last trip to sell a boat before she returns to be McGees love. Meyer It is also Meyer's belief that Pidge can stay alive longer at sea because of what transpired in Honolulu; simply because she believes she imagined it all the first time out, and Howie will not feel the impulse quite so quickly. A great ending makes up for a lot, but this one is best enjoyed by those who love the ongoing commentary about society and the observations about living, and humanity.
When he arrives Pidge tells him that either shes crazy or Howie is trying to kill her. Convinced that the man is telling the truth, McGee gets Pidge drunk and to admit that she doesn't love Howie. She then tells Howie that theyll need to split, but he convinces her to sail the boat to meet a buyer at Poga Poga before they call a divorce lawyer. Examining his own heart, McGee finds that he has fallen in love with Pidge, and coincidently he gets a letter from her proclaiming her own love and saying that theyll start a life of bliss together right after she gets done with this risky ocean voyage alone with the husband she recently informed of her wish to divorce and that she once thought might be trying to kill her.. After Pidge tells him shes worried about being murdered including one incident where the husband admitted that he fired a gun in her direction, McGee is so certain that hes diagnosed and treated (with sex) Pidges problem that it never even crosses his mind that Howie might be a bad guy. I would expect a cynical student of nature to maybe think that putting a couple with a pending divorce alone in a goddamn boat in the middle of the goddamn ocean wouldnt be a great idea under the best of circumstances, let alone when either the husband has tried to kill her already or the cheese has slipped off her cracker.
"A bore is a man who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company." - Gian Vincenzo Gravina, quoted in Turquoise Lament It wound-up really well, but puttered a bit at the middle, and was predictable at the end.
Gutsy, impulsive, motherless, and insecure, a 17-year old Pidge stowed away on Travis's boat, the Busted Flush, and attempted a probative seduction. Travis delivered her back to her father, of course, and a year later, Pidge went off to college. Two years later, her father, Professor Ted, died in a motorcycle accident, and Pidge inherited her father's boat, the Trepid, and a sizable trust fund. The couple embarked on a round the world cruise on the Trepid and now, a year later, Pidge has called Travis from Hawaii. Travis and Meyer both took a paternal interest in Pidge and the memory of the 15-year old innocent he first met is still strong. Pidge is no longer an adolescent, and when he meets her in Hawaii the realization, though pleasant, is also a reminder that Travis is not getting any younger. Each new year at Bahia Mar seems to be a woozy remembrance of past faces dimmed over time. Frank had worked on Professor Ted's crew along with Travis and Meyer, and has an interesting story to relate as well as a question that up to then had been overlooked. (p.87) I fell in love with the character of Meyer in THE SCARLET RUSE, and Meyer has a large and active role in this book, providing names of contacts, alternate hypotheses, and quiet erudition to Travis. (view spoiler)Finally, there is a wistful conclusion that pulls the reader in closer to Travis McGee. Two people, totally, blissfully, blindly in love.
Turquoise Lament is a mystery/ adventure novel far different from any other and is even uniquely textured among the Travis McGee novels. But this story develops differently than Most of the Travis McGee stories.
Something so wrong and out-of-character here for McGee, I almost quit the book.
I had a few laments myself as I read this book. Next lament: Mr. McDonald, when McGee falls in love for real, couldn't you have shown us how she's different from the hundreds of short-term encounters he's had?
Of course women rarely enter a Travis McGee novel without having trouble in tow, and Pidge Llewellyn's troubles pull McGee to Hawaii and Pago Pago, while along the way MacDonald gets to share information on recondite areas of interest, including estate law and the onerousness of maintaining a private yacht. Even looking toward the morning brightness, I had a good view of the coast. Tiny churchgoing automobiles were stacked up at the lift bridges, winking in the sun, and making a whiskey haze that spoiled the quality of the light." SPOLIER ALERT: Clearly I have read too many Fleming 007 novels: when MacDonald described a gondola tram in great detail about 2/3rds of the way through the novel, I new exactly where the story's climax would take place.
Travis McGee is so perfect, like all those 1960s heroes who are chipped from bronze, who have beautiful women buzzing around their heads like flies, and whose wallets are always filled with the wherewithal to go at a moment's notice to far and exotic places.
During WW2, he rose to the rank of Colonel, and while serving in the Army and in the Far East, sent a short story to his wife for sale, successfully.