The Deep Blue Good-By is the first in the series of books featuring Travis McGee, who was sold to me as “the original Jack Reacher” (from the Lee Child books) by a friend. Indeed, similarly to Reacher, McGee finds himself unwittingly involved in difficult situations with potentially dangerous consequences. In this novel, McGee is approached by Cathy Kerr, who asks for help in recovering money belonging to her deceased father, which is now in the possession of Junior Allen. Can McGee track Allen down and return the money to its rightful owners?
As Travis McGee attempts to find Junior Allen, his search takes him to several locations across America. Although these locations are areas with which I am not familiar, I found the descriptions very detailed, and this helped me to gain a better understanding of the surroundings and atmosphere in which McGee was working, and continue reading. The development of the atmosphere continues through the escalation of the plot, which unravels slowly. At times, I found this enjoyable, particularly, for example, in the scenes where Travis is taking care of Lois, as it helped to build suspense which created intrigue, as I wanted to know how the different characters were connected to each other, and whether Allen would be found. However, as the novel reached its climax, the pace became a little too slow, and I found it difficult to maintain my interest until the end.
The Deep Blue Good-By was published in 1964, and is, without doubt, a novel of its time. This is evident in MacDonald’s style: the language is simple, yet descriptive, and this makes the novel easy to read. However, I am more familiar with modern crime novels, whose plots are shocking and often violent and gory. In view of this, the parts of the book that were intended to shock did not have this effect on me, and this hindered my ability to become engaged with this particular plot.
I think it is important to consider that The Deep Blue Good-By is the first in the series, and this means that whilst I was disappointed that I did not find out more about Travis McGee – and my difficulty connecting with the central character adversely affected my enjoyment of the novel – there is scope for the character to develop as the series progresses. Despite my difficulty with some aspects of The Deep Blue Good-By, I am able to see potential in MacDonald’s style and characters which means I am likely to return to the Travis McGee series at a later date.
The Deep Blue Good-By is available on Amazon.