- Mass Market Paperback
- Publisher: Fawcett; Reissue edition (May 12 1987)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0449133311
- ISBN-13: 978-0449133316
- Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.7 x 1.5 cm
- Shipping Weight: 227 g
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,622,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Pale Gray for Guilt Mass Market Paperback – May 12 1987
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About the Author
I remember the house in Utica, New York, where John D. grew up. The curtains were always closed and the atmosphere seemed invariably dark and somber. Nothing there predicted his imaginative outpouring. Imagination was frivolity and frivolity was not on the agenda.
He followed his own father's path toward the commercial world. While earning a Master's Degree in Business Administration from Harvard, he married Dorothy Prentiss, an artist, and produced one small son. Then he went off to war. The marriage of the business graduate and the creative person was the unrecognized first step in John D.'s becoming an author.
During service in China, Burma, and India, his mail was heavily censored. In frustration he wrote a short story and sent it to my mother. She saw his potential and sold the story. When my father came home, a Lieutenant Colonel and Harvard graduate, his father presented him with a list of plum career options. He turned them down and took an undemanding job so that he could pour his energy into writing.
Eventually, we moved to Florida. For my parents, Florida was the land of light, the place where the curtains were never drawn. The place itself became a topic and Travis McGee strode into the landscape.
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In point of fact, these really aren't "detective" books at all; they are generally better classified as suspense novels. However, the formula utilized in the books, as well as the realistic, hard hitting writing style they displayed, set the stage for many a fictional detective series to follow.
McGee advertises himself as a "salvage" specialist. He's more a high-end repo man. If you've lost something of extraordinary value that you do not want the police involved in recovering, he'll do it for you-for 50% of the fair market value of the lost valuables. Once he's made a big score he reverts to being a beach Bum in ft. Lauderdale Florida where he lives on the beach in a houseboat won in a card game.
The Travis McGee novels break down basically into two types of story either (A) a "recovery" tale and (B) a revenge tale. The former is the far more common format.
Pale Gray for Guilt is one of the latter. Tush Bannon, one of Travis' old high school buddies, is killed by developers who want his land for a project, Travis swears revenge. Along with his sidekick, Dr. Meyer, a nationally known economist and fellow beach bum, McGee sets in motion a complicated and dangerous scam to entrap and bankrupt the killers.
On the whole I like the recovery novels better than the revenge novels, but this is one of the better of the latter sort. The plan is ingenious, the characters, as usual, well developed and the con victim so loathsome one is fully engaged in the effort to get the SOB.
This is probably not the best book to start out with McGee but, once hooked, this will make a very pleasant read.
A final note: MavDonald wrote many novels other than the McGee series-however, all McGee novels have a color in the title. If you're browsing for McGee, just select any novel with a color in the title, and there Travis will be.
"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.
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