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"A man will let his money be taken only when the alternative is something he cannot endure."
- John D. MacDonald, One Fearful Yellow Eye
McGee Does the Second City. I liked it, but didn't love it. Sometimes MacDonald takes McGee away from Florida and it seems to almost work, but I still think I prefer McGee on a boat to McGee in Chicago, in the snow. As a favor to an old flame, McGee goes to Chicago because her ex-husband's estate has been emptied and the relatives all think she did it. McGee looks into the hows and whys of the money disappearing. McGee's views (and I'd presume to a bit MacDonald's) on homosexuals and Blacks appear in this novel and they are nearly there, but only reach the uncanny valley of sensitivity towards other groups:
"I'm always skeptical of the male who makes a big public deal about how he hates fairies, how they turn his stomach, how he'd like to beat the hell out of them. The queens are certainly distasteful, but the average homosexual in the visual and performing arts is usually a human being a little bit brighter and more perceptive than most."
I have to remind myself that this was published in 1966. He is growing. Language like that was seen as progressive in the 60s, in certain circles. Hell, language like that might sound progressive in Texas, Idaho, or Arizona in certain circles now. I seem to always find areas where MacDonald nearly writes a perfect novel, but a couple things just block it for me. He is one of those writers I keep coming back from and keep ending up just a bit frustrated (and not just because I keep wanting to enroll him in sensitivty training classes). His books have the potential for real genius and the more I read the more I see this potential. Individually, however, this book doesn't get close.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
Travis McGee receives a call for help from his old friend Glory Doyle; her husband Fortner Geis a noted surgeon died of cancer and $400,000 1968 dollars is missing with no trail. Both of the doctor's Children feel certain that Glory is behind the loss of their inheritance so she gets no support from those who were part of his life before they met. As Travis ambles around Chicago talking to the family and friends of the doctor he begins to discern patterns in the events of the last year on the good doctor and his loved ones.
An emergency summons blows the case open and the doctors's beautiful but repressed daughter reveals a morass of Freudian feelings about daddy. Her next move of course is to jump Travis momentarily; then immediately puts the brakes on her libido but a breakthrough has happened. They agree that this mutual attraction should progress.
However unknown to all but one character in this book an evil from the past is influencing current events and will come to effect McGee and those he holds dear and will; in the end touch everyone in the Geis family.
With certain exceptions along the way I enjoyed this book. As is per usual MacDonald's plot is solid, the story moves quickly containing just enough detail to flesh out the story line without bogging it down and though his view of women predates the baby boom era even the female characters are rounded and well formed. Plus his strength in story telling make this a compelling read and or listen. One reservation is the reader; perhaps someone should have explained to him that this wasn't Shakespeare or even Wuthering Heights.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful