Sunday, April 6, 2014


I finished reading (for the second time) A PURPLE PLACE FOR DYING (1964) the other day. It's the third Travis McGee novel by the late, great John D. MacDonald and it's a splendid yarn.

This one finds McGee out west instead of his home turf of Florida where he meets Mona Yeoman, a blond beauty who wants to hire McGee to help her get the inheritance money left to her by her father back from her several years older (and friend of her late father) husband, Jass. McGee doesn't much care for Mona and he thinks something fishy is going on but before he can agree or disagree to help her, she's shot dead by a sniper hidden in the rocks of the vast desert wasteland.

All of that happens in the first chapter and it's one helluva narrative hook, both for the reader and McGee. Even though Mona is dead and McGee is a witness to her murder, someone goes to great lengths to make it look like she's run off with her lover, college professor John Webb. McGee soon meets Webb's sister, Isobel, a sexually repressed virgin, who becomes his partner in this adventure.

There are many twists and turns and several more deaths before everything comes to a thrilling climax in which McGee and Isobel are stalked at night in the high desert country by the killers. In the aftermath of their ordeal, McGee once again uses his "magic dick" to deflower the young virgin and thaw her chilly attitude towards men.

A PURPLE PLACE FOR DYING has a terrific sense of place. Fish-out-of-water McGee is at a disadvantage away from his Florida home but he manages to come out on top of his adversaries. With colorful, well-drawn characters, great dialogue, a terrific mystery and an exciting finish, A PURPLE PLACE FOR DYING is a winner in my book. Thumbs up. 

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