"Pale Gray for Guilt" was the 8th novel in the Travis McGee series, and I judge it as medium-good McGee. Published in 1968, it has an excellent contemporary flavor about it that captures the late '60s very well. The major flaw in the novel is the extraordinarily complicated sting set up by Meyer and Travis as revenge for Tush's demise. The big businessmen are set up to take a financial bath, and there are pages and pages devoted to capital gains, covering margins, selling short, etc. This has the effect of confining John Wayne to Wall St., not a happy or even very interesting state of affairs. However, Travis does get to expound, and wow his usual lusty women. (this one named Puss Killian-would such a name even be allowed today?) MacDonald allows Travis his special brand of sentimentality, "-went into the master bedroom and slipped out of the robe and into the giant bed and wished I wasn't too old to cry myself to sleep." No other tough private eye would ever be permited to think that way in print.
By the time this book was written, MacDonald had found his groove, though it was too bad he had to foist his interest in the stock market on Travis who, as we all well know, cares nothing about such things. It never happened again.