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Girl In The Plain Brown Wrapper (Travis McGee #10)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  2,239 ratings  ·  73 reviews
While making good his promise to prevent a young girl from committing suicide, Travis McGee encounters an entirely new string of problems of his own. Attempting to salvage someone else's troubled life, McGee soon finds it is enough just to keep his own neck out of the noose! As with all of John D. MacDonald's books, THE GIRL IN THE PLAIN BROWN WRAPPER is filled with the sp ...more
Mass Market Paperback, Fawcett Gold Medal 13341-9, 256 pages
Published 1982 by Ballantine Books (first published December 1st 1968)
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If you were a rich widow who was dying from cancer and one of your two daughters, who had been stable and happily married for years, suddenly and mysteriously went bat shit crazy including memory loss and suicide attempts, would you:

A) Pour all your money and remaining time into medical and psychological doctors to try and help while also setting up a safe and protected environment for her?

B) Contact a shady stranger who you had a romantic fling with after your husband died and beg him to help h
James Thane
As the tenth book in John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series opens, McGee is once again called upon to restore a grieving widow to psychological and sexual health. The grateful woman, Helena Pearson, returns to her normal life, but several years later, she is dying of cancer and calls upon McGee for one last favor. Helena's daughter, Maurie, has become mysteriously suicidal and Helena would like McGee to diagnose the problem and find a solution.

McGee dutifully journeys to Fort Courtney, Florida,
It’s been a long, long time since I last read a Travis McGee novel. After a few dated cultural references, I checked the publishing date about a quarter of the way into the book – 1968. References to the Pill (Macdonald’s caps, not mine), Walter Cronkite (kids, he was a network news anchor, back when that meant anything), and an antiquated take on sex and race stood out.

He doesn’t treat women “badly”, it’s just that he comes across as Travis, amateur sex therapist, the guy with the answer to eve
Harv Griffin
pic of my copy of WRAPPED GIRL

1968 for the Wrapped Girl – So be forewarned, Ladies, Travis McGee is not politically correct, judged by 2012 standards. The best rendition of the I HATE TRAVIS McGEE point-of-view may be Amanda’s one star GoodReads review:

The gals have their Loveswept, Silhouette & Harlequin tubes-through-the-roof romance novels—the guys have our Phillip Marlowe, Travis McGee & Jack Reacher balls-to-the-wall action novels.

BROWN WRAPPER is half way into the Travi
Jeff Jackson
Aug 12, 2012 Jeff Jackson rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jeff by: David Bowman's Noir List on Salon
David Bowman published an intriguing list of post-Chandler noir novels on Salon a few years back. This was one of his five picks. Bowman sez: "MacDonald, the last literate and unself-conscious pulp writer, was the first to explore the noir possibilities of Florida. All the titles in his Travis McGee series are precious junk. In this one — part John Updike, part “Jane Eyre” — the lethal Florida beach bum/sexual healer attempts to rescue a housewife held captive in suburbia by her hubby’s mind-con ...more
Cathy DuPont
Mar 30, 2015 Cathy DuPont rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cathy by: A sailor
Unfortunately, this was a weak book in the series.

This isn't a four star, (most TM series are) it's clearly a three. Weak storyline is why it get three stars from me.

My last read (#2) I gave it a four. I think age is making me a tougher critic! OMG, Katy bar the door!
Emilie Richards
My husband got this from a Florida bookseller who knew he loved Randy Wayne White. I read it for fun this summer. Also a White fan, I knew I wouldn't be getting the same kind of read even if I was getting another dose of real Florida.

The era was different, but I'd really forgotten HOW different. Travis McGee's a great guy, but this was a lot like reading a pared-down, slightly more thoughtful James Bond. Travis was in and out of bed with three women in the story with several other "encounters"
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 ...more
Travis McGee had a wonderful, spur of the moment, love with Helena after her husband tragically died. He was much younger than her and she wasn't looking for a new husband, just a good time. Which Travis was able to give her on his boat while taking her traveling. When she left after that summer of love, they kept in contact through mail, but never saw one another again. When Travis gets a letter from Helena telling him how she is terminally ill and how her eldest daughter is in a bad mental sta ...more
Very Sam Spade. This is a classic “hardboiled” detective story published in 1968. One would never know it was 1968 except for the fact no one mentions a cell phone and there is zero talk of DNA. But then again, there is the audio cassette recorder the cops use, the lovely gold carpeting and one “swinging band”. Race relations are certainly different. Travis McGee, the unofficial detective, is extremely descriptive throughout the novel as he tells the story. (Especially his description of one dea ...more
Mackenzie Brown
Number ten in the series, this story finds McGee on an errand of mercy for an old lover who has lost her battle with cancer. He arrives in the apparent sleepy Florida Town of Fort Courtney, but all is not quite what it seems. There is something about the place that is a little off kilter, but by the time our sun bleached hero pieces together a jigsaw of murder and larceny, it is almost too late......

A skilfull, well plotted crime thriller with everything you want from the genre, from the hands o
In my opinion, this is one of the best novels in the series. Although, the Travis McGee novels have a reputation for being testosterone driven, they are much more than this. The author has a unique world view that defies categorization. McGee might be a serial monogamist but he always treats women with respect - and perhaps a little fear.
MacDonald builds strong, diverse women.

Above all, John D. MacDonald is an excellent writer and a wonderful storyteller. Per Stephen King, MacDonald was the gre
MacDonald tends to focus on what is wrong with the world--the sordid underpinings of the supposdedly civil world, and how people use and manipulate each other. And many of the early books--definitely the ones through the 1960s and early 1970s included a lot of drug experimentation. The other thing I like about MacDonald is that not all his mysteries were murder mysteries, but often things dealing in monetary fraud, and the murders happen along the way as he's hunting lost and stolen money.

He le
THE GIRL IN THE PLAIN BROWN WRAPPER. (1968). John D. MacDonald. ***.
Hold on to your hats and seat. MacDonald usually manages to hold his McGee adventures to about 300 pages – at least in the paperback series that I’ve been reading. In this tale, you reach about page 280 and realize that he has to wrap the case up. He does, in a whirlwind way using several of the hokiest techniques that have been developed by writers: A dictated summary of the case into a tape recorder; the use of a totally new c
Honestly, I'm pretty sure I read this, but it barely left an impression -- something about an unambitious PI with a pre-modern approach to gender relations.
Reading John D. MacDonald has the same sort of queasy charm as watching Mad Men. It's a period piece - kind of like a Victorian novel only shorter and with way more sex. Sexist, sexist sex. This one brushes on the surface of, of all things, race relations too. Turns out that shapely legs, when brown, are still shapely. Go figure! Things have changed since I was a small child and when I reread these books, I have to say, they've changed for the better. Still, though, for all that the undertones m ...more
Sep 11, 2008 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Detective novel enthusiasts, noir fans willing to try something a little more modern
Recommended to Rob by: Some guy on a plane
I was pleasantly surprised by this one, which I wasn't really enjoying after the first chapter or two. I'm a big fan of noir detective novels (Chandler and Hammet), and usually feel let down by anything that was written and/or takes place in the past 50 years. It took a few chapters for me to realize it, but this one was pretty intelligent, well-written, and engaging. I'll have to check out some more MacDonald (not to be confused with Ross McDonald, of Chandler's era and genre).
Lee Roberts
Travis McGee is like Jack Reacher on valium. He stumbles around Florida getting himself into trouble and catching bad guys without breaking a sweat. For some mysterious reason, everyone loves Travis and wants to just open up and share their innermost thoughts and feelings with him. This is pretty convenient when you're trying to figure things out. In this case, McGee goes into a strange town to check on the daughters of an old lover who has died and made this her deathbed request. He reluctantly ...more
Ellen Seltz
A quick, enjoyable read.
Travis McGee stands smack in the tradition of the likeable hard-boiled gumshoe. A rough and ready, very sympathetic protatonist, MacDonald writes McGee with humor, verve, and an appealing narrative voice. He invests enough emotion in the story to have some gravitas, but keeps from becoming introspective or morbid.

This is not the sort of mystery that keeps you guessing "whodunit," but transitions in the third act to "how to prove it?"

Gritty without being graphic. A lot of
The narrative in No#10 of the Travis McGee series isn’t nearly as intriguing as its title. (Although I note with appreciation that the Random House reprint does a more truthful job with the cover art, using a creamy blonde instead of the black-haired Twiggy-shaped girl I remember from the 1968 mass market paperback.) An out-of-sync, lackluster quality dominates THE GIRL IN THE PLAIN BROWN WRAPPER. Maybe it’s because, as McGee admits, there’s “no big savage heat to avenge” (p288) this time out. O ...more
One of the early Travis McGee stories from the late 60’s, “Wrapper” (10th of 21) is a little unusual in that our hero receives a check to look into why a dying woman’s daughter keeps trying to commit suicide. Dutifully, Travis travels to that family to discover a tricky threesome of a disturbed woman, her nice sister, and her busy husband who has his hands into who knows what in the business community. Before it’s all over, murder and mayhem rain down, but of course McGee mostly solves all, bedd ...more
Travis McGee gets a letter from an old girlfriend who recently died of cancer asking him to help her daughter who has repeatedly tried to commit suicide. Trying to unravel the cause leads McGee into a web of deceit and murder.

This book calls to mind the Jack Reacher series. Clear it was influential.

McGee is a bit dim to catch on to what is going on. Drove me nuts waiting for him to get to many of the obvious punchlines...
JSA Lowe
Officially my least favorite so far. Most of the book matter consists of exhausting-to-wade-through expository dialogue which (even worse) is almost entirely between Trav and some small-town cop I never ever cared about or could differentiate from his colleagues. It's bad enough when MacDonald tries to write in the female noir voice (the exposition in which various fatale types--usually 2 or 3 per book--outline information about their victimization) but two anonymous white dudes talking about no ...more
Jonwesley Barnhill
As in all of the Travis McGee novels, I was sucked in without even being aware of it. I personally love the character and his outlook on life, albeit one tainted by some rough times. I am always struck by how much John D. MacDonald's commentaries on Travis' world reflect the world today.

I recommend all of the Travis McGee books to anyone who likes a fast-paced adventure. Great writing, great read.
Best part of this book was MacDonald describing a character thus:

"...might have been too handsome without a certain irregularity about his features, a suggestion of a cowlicky, lumpy, aw shucks, early-Jimmy-Stewart flavor."

Of course, finding out the reason that description is so apt would necessitate reading the book, which you can pretty much take or leave.
Not my favorite Travis McGee book by a long shot. I nearly put it aside several times, but decided to keep plowing through because MacDonald has a way of wrapping things up *so* neatly at the very end of his books that I thought it would be worth it at the end. At the end of his books, even the most extraneous events matter and everything makes sense. He has a way of making me look back on even the slowest parts and smile.

Well, at the very end of The Girl In the Plain Brown Wrapper, the slowest
Felt this was a weaker entry in the series; strained my disbelief too many times. The various drugs and medical devices might as well have been magic potions and spells, and the protagonist does a number of crazy irrational illegal actions that somehow work out. Nevertheless had fun reading it.
This was a pretty good book, the problem I had with it (as with a lot of the Travis McGee stories) is that it can't decide whether it wants to be a mystery, an adventure or something else. The style is solid and this one is closer to a whodunit than most, but the plot is so convoluted that somewhere along the line it loses a bit of credibility. It just doesn't hang together all that well.

The characters are good and I get interested because of them (for the most part) but plot does not carry its
Sep 06, 2013 Chuck rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chuck by: Phil Henry
Another John D. McDonald mystery with his famous character Travis McGee at the helm. While I was reading this book at a doctor's office and at Starbucks, I had several people comment that they had read it years before and enjoyed it. That says much for McDonald's popularity. I occasionally read a book that is written very well from the standpoint of developing characters and observations of the author about the characters and their circumstances, but has a weak story. That is how I viewed this e ...more
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John D. MacDonald was born in Sharon, Pa, and educated at the Universities of Pennsylvania, Syracuse and Harvard, where he took an MBA in 1939. During WW2, he rose to the rank of Colonel, and while serving in the Army and in the Far East, sent a short story to his wife for sale, successfully. After the war, he decided to try writing for a year, to see if he could make a living. Over 500 short stor ...more
More about John D. MacDonald...

Other Books in the Series

Travis McGee (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • The Deep Blue Good-By (Travis McGee #1)
  • Nightmare in Pink (Travis McGee, #2)
  • A Purple Place for Dying (Travis McGee #3)
  • The Quick Red Fox (Travis McGee #4)
  • A Deadly Shade of Gold (Travis McGee #5)
  • Bright Orange for the Shroud (Travis McGee #6)
  • Darker Than Amber (Travis McGee #7)
  • One Fearful Yellow Eye (Travis McGee #8)
  • Pale Gray for Guilt (Travis McGee #9)
  • Dress Her in Indigo (Travis McGee #11)
Cape Fear The Deep Blue Good-By (Travis McGee #1) A Deadly Shade of Gold (Travis McGee #5) Nightmare in Pink (Travis McGee, #2) Free Fall in Crimson (Travis McGee #19)

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