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The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper [Mass Market Paperback]

John D. MacDonald
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 9 1996 Travis McGee Mysteries
From a beloved master of crime fiction, The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper is one of many classic novels featuring Travis McGee, the hard-boiled detective who lives on a houseboat.
 
He had done a big favor for her husband, then for the lady herself. Now she’s dead, and Travis McGee finds that Helena Pearson Trescott had one last request of him: to find out why her beautiful daughter Maureen keeps trying to kill herself. But what can a devil-may-care beach bum do for a young troubled mind?
 
“The Travis McGee novels are among the finest works of fiction ever penned by an American author.”—Jonathan Kellerman
 
McGee makes his way to the prosperous town of Fort Courtney, Florida, where he realizes pretty quickly that something’s just not right. Not only has Maureen’s doctor killed herself, but a string of murders and suicides are piling up—and no one seems to have any answers.
 
Just when it seems that things can’t get any stranger, McGee becomes the lead suspect in the murder of a local nurse. As if Maureen didn’t have enough problems, the man on a mission to save her will have to save himself first—before time runs out.
 
Features a new Introduction by Lee Child

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Review

Praise for John D. MacDonald and the Travis McGee novels
 
The great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller.”—Stephen King
 
“My favorite novelist of all time . . . All I ever wanted was to touch readers as powerfully as John D. MacDonald touched me. No price could be placed on the enormous pleasure that his books have given me. He captured the mood and the spirit of his times more accurately, more hauntingly, than any ‘literature’ writer—yet managed always to tell a thunderingly good, intensely suspenseful tale.”—Dean Koontz
 
“To diggers a thousand years from now, the works of John D. MacDonald would be a treasure on the order of the tomb of Tutankhamen.”—Kurt Vonnegut
 
“A master storyteller, a masterful suspense writer . . . John D. MacDonald is a shining example for all of us in the field. Talk about the best.”—Mary Higgins Clark
 
“A dominant influence on writers crafting the continuing series character . . . I envy the generation of readers just discovering Travis McGee, and count myself among the many readers savoring his adventures again.”—Sue Grafton
 
“One of the great sagas in American fiction.”—Robert B. Parker
 
“Most readers loved MacDonald’s work because he told a rip-roaring yarn. I loved it because he was the first modern writer to nail Florida dead-center, to capture all its languid sleaze, racy sense of promise, and breath-grabbing beauty.”—Carl Hiaasen
 
“The consummate pro, a master storyteller and witty observer . . . John D. MacDonald created a staggering quantity of wonderful books, each rich with characterization, suspense, and an almost intoxicating sense of place. The Travis McGee novels are among the finest works of fiction ever penned by an American author and they retain a remarkable sense of freshness.”—Jonathan Kellerman
 
“What a joy that these timeless and treasured novels are available again.”—Ed McBain
 
“Travis McGee is the last of the great knights-errant: honorable, sensual, skillful, and tough. I can’t think of anyone who has replaced him. I can’t think of anyone who would dare.”—Donald Westlake
 
“There’s only one thing as good as reading a John D. MacDonald novel: reading it again. A writer way ahead of his time, his Travis McGee books are as entertaining, insightful, and suspenseful today as the moment I first read them. He is the all-time master of the American mystery novel.”—John Saul

From the Back Cover

"...my favorite novelist of all time."
--DEAN KOONTZ

"...the consummate pro, a master storyteller and witty observer."
--JONATHAN KELLERMAN
--This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
By Debra Purdy Kong TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A letter from an old friend takes salvage expert Travis McGee by surprise. He hasn’t seen Helena Pearson in five years, and since she recently died from cancer, the letter brings back a lot of poignant memories. In the letter, Helena asks Travis to see if he can determine what’s causing her eldest daughter, Maureen, to repeatedly attempt suicide. To honor her memory, McGee pays Maureen a visit, although he doesn’t really know how he can help. Unfortunately, McGee gets more than he bargained for when he’s attacked his first night in town and finds himself digging up all sorts of secrets and odd behavior concerning people who could be connected to Maureen.

The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper is an intelligent, riveting look at human behavior, and written by one of the best crime novelists there ever was. John D. MacDonald’s style is engaging and distinctive, his pacing and plotting marvelous. As someone who reads a lot of crime novels I can usually predict where a story is going, however, the twists and turns in this book kept me guessing. The ending, while not gloriously happy, was truly satisfying.

My only quibble is the confusing opening chapter. The author supplies the directions and names of so many locations within the Florida Keys that they become confusing and therefore meaningless to anyone unfamiliar with the area. Still, I did learn that there is a lot more to the Keys than I thought. This was my first MacDonald novel, but it definitely won’t be my last.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Poor Nurse Penny July 7 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A bit overplotted and maybe resolved just a little too neatly, "The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper" nevertheless transcends its dated, Spillane-esque title and serves as a entertaining, mid-level McGee adventure.
After two excellent introductory sections (a cool short section about Trav *actually* working in his supposed field -- salvage consulting; and a amusing backstory about his affair with an older woman), we gear into the breadth of the plot which involves a beautiful, unhinged blonde with a bottomless trust fund and her husband, a monied sociopath who's both more and less dangerous than he seems.
Somewhere along the way, we find Trav actually experiencing genuine feelings for a woman (and the *wrong* woman, no less; this is one instance in which most readers can finally say *they* know better than MacDonald's endlessly shrewd, canny protagonist).
The final third is a little too much Q&A, with Trav extracting exactly the information he needs from relative strangers; the fairly obvious examination of race-relations may be accurate but hasn't aged too well; and the ending -- in which MacDonald actually has to step back and explain the twists step-by-step to the reader through a deposition -- feels like a writer tip-toeing out of the corner he's painted himself into.
But nevertheless, this is a vivid little page-turner with some nicely rendered characters (Pike, Biddy, Nurse Penny, screwed-up lawyer Holton and his alluring wife and especially Detective Stanger) and an apt air of melacholy, regret and loss.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Thinking Man's Mystery Novel Aug. 16 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Travis McGee gets a check for $25,000 (a lot of dough for 1969) and the dying wish of an old friend, to look after her suicidal daughter. So McGee goes to Fort Courtney to observe the daughter, her sister and her husband. What McGee encounters is a series of unusual circumstances, including dead bodies, cheating spouses, and the evidence that somebody is spying on him. Could all of these things be connected? Sure - but only McGee could figure out the complicated connection. True to most McGee novels, justice is served in the end, although in a form the reader does not expect.
This is my 11th McGee novel. Clearly MacDonald writes in a more sophisticated style than 98% of the mystery writers today. A new reader may find it annoying that one must suffer through a good 100 pages before the action really begins, but this is typical MacDonald style. Not only do you get a complex mystery, but you get a lot of philosophy along the way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My first McGee novel. A very good start! March 12 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Well, I'll keep this short & sweet. I'm not much of a mystery reader but this series was recommended to me by several people. I picked this one randomly to start the series. I liked it...the story was quick-moving, had good character development, some humor, a lot of action, and tied up nicely at the end. At 250 pages it's a quick read, perfect for an airplane ride. If you like Dick Francis, Robert Parker, et al, then you'll like this series.
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