The Deep Blue Good-By: Travis McGee (CBR8)


Fine. Fine. Fine.


I suppose if Leonardo DiCaprio wants to be Travis McGee in The Deep Blue Good-By, I guess I'm ok with it. Not because DiCaprio fits my image of McGee - at all - but because Good-By feels like such a different book than the later McGees. It's not as dark or broody. In fact, even with the death and horrifying crimes, the book is nearly bouncy. McGee doesn't have any scars yet, there is no mention of his time in Korea, he hasn't yet been involved in the death or injury of any friends. He's scrappy...but a fun kind of scrappy. Not yet burdened by years of defending friends and lovers against the worst humanity has to offer.

So...whatever. I guess DiCaprio with his pretty eyes, smooth skin, charitable donations, and environmental activism can play Early Travis McGee.

Good-By features Cathy, a single mom dancer who was swindled by a mean ole dude called Junior Allen. Allen spent a few years in a jail with Cathy's father who hid away scandalously-obtained riches that were unknown to his family. After Cathy's father died in jail, Allen was released, sought out Cathy's family and stole those riches. Being a classy guy, he used his new money to kidnap and torture a rich chick named Lois.

So, Trav's job is to find creepy Allen, restore some money to single mom Cathy and help heal broken rich chick Lois.

And it does it with a playfulness that I had forgotten from my original reading of the book years ago. He teases sick, stick-thin Lois into eating more, rather than manipulating her. He describes himself as "bright eyes and white teeth shining...the proper folk-hero crinkle at the corners of the eyes and the bashful appealing smile," rather than as in The Green Ripper 15 years later - "an artifact, genus boat bum, a pale-eyed, shambling, gangling, knuckly man, without enough unscarred hide left to make a decent lampshade." Even his cynicism and distrust of structure and establishment seems mild:
Maybe it isn't too late yet! Find the little woman, and go for the whole bit. Kiwanis, PTA, fund drives, cookouts, a clean desk, and vote the straight ticket, yessiree bob.

Yessiree bob? It's a different McGee than I've become accustomed to in the later books...but it's a lot of fun. It's a tidy little tale and a pretty good read.


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