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The Deep Blue Good-By (Travis McGee #1)

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  8,540 Ratings  ·  629 Reviews
He's a self-described beach bum who won his houseboat in a card game. He's also a knight errant who's wary of credit cards, retirement benefits, political parties, mortgages, and television. He only works when his cash runs out and his rule is simple: he'll help you find whatever was taken from you, as long as he can keep half.
Paperback, Fawcett Crest 22383-3, 310 pages
Published May 31st 1995 by Ballantine Books (first published 1964)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 16, 2015 Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of hard-boiled crime
Recommended to Lynda by: Cathy DuPont

I'm a huge fan of suspense fiction, absolutely loving the surprising and unexpected twists and turns. I've read (and re-read) a lot in this genre over the years, but John D MacDonald (JDM) had escaped me. I'm not sure why. I had heard of the movie "Cape Fear", which was adapted from JDM's book The Executioners, but for some reason I knew nothing of his pulp fiction series about Travis McGee.

One day I was having a conversation with my good friend and fellow GR member, Cathy DuPont, and she kept
Apr 22, 2008 Adam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
This book should have been called To Catch a Rapist You Have to Think Like a Rapist. I'd always heard good things about John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series, so I decided I'd start at the beginning, and bought the first couple of books in the series. After reading The Deep Blue Good-by, however, I don't have much interest in reading any more. The main problem I had with this book is its protagonist. Travis McGee is a self-important asshole who overexplains his trite beach-bum "philosophy" any ...more
Jan 24, 2016 Kemper rated it liked it
If you’ve been conned or robbed out of something by a shady character then Travis McGee will try to get it back for half the value of what was taken. And if you’re a woman he’ll more than likely bang you in the process. No extra charge.

Cathy Kerr is a single mom whose father had hidden something valuable he brought back from serving in the military overseas before being sent to prison. After he dies in jail a pyschopath named Junior Allen shows up and manages to locate and steal the goods. While
Feb 21, 2014 Algernon rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
excellent start to a classic noir series. I really liked the main character and I hope I will manage to write a more indepth review soon.

Other people go down to the keys and bring back shell ashtrays or mounted fish or pottery flamingos. Travis McGee brings back a Lois Atkinson. The souvenir fervor is the mainstay of a tourist economy.

Could we call this genre 'sunny noir'? As in hard-boiled , private dick crime investigation set in laidback, luminous Florida. A state who has its ow
Dan Schwent
Jul 15, 2011 Dan Schwent rated it liked it
Junior Allen has sleazed his way into a fortune in stolen gems and the daughters of the man who they belonged to want them back. Only Junior is a woman-beating rapist and has left a trail of battered women in his wake. Can Travis McGee get the gems back and take his cut?

This is the first John D. MacDonald book I've read and probably won't be the last. MacDonald really knows how to build the suspense. Junior Allen is a first degree douche bag and a good villain. You can't help but read faster and
Cathy DuPont
May 25, 2014 Cathy DuPont rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: who like the stong, thoughtful, sensitive guys
Shelves: re-reading
Third Time's a Charm
 photo 3974ff06-5225-416d-8e91-f16c41256f65_zps61906c48.jpg
Cathy's First Love, Still

For anyone considering reading the Travis McGee series (first book published in 1964 with a total of 21 books in the series) this book should definitely be read first. It lays the ground work for who McGee really is, how he feels about society, women and Florida in general. These are important basics for reading the series since the character for me, is so very important.

Reading the Long Blue Goodbye for me, was like seeing an old friend, no, I take
Jan Rice
John D. MacDonald does lists. For example, he's wary of

...plastic credit cards, payroll deductions, insurance programs, retirement benefits, savings accounts, Green Stamps, time clocks, newspapers, mortgages, sermons, miracle fabrics, deodorants, check lists, time payments, political parties, lending libraries, television, actresses, junior chambers of commerce, pageants, progress, and manifest destiny. (p. 14)

Again, creating a picture of rotting, materialistic excess:

...with a thumb in the Yell
Anthony Vacca
While this book has a really striking style of first-person narration with plenty of wonderful misanthropy, the causal disgust for women is what we call "off-putting." Even if MacDonald's opinion mirrors McGee's low opinion of women and what they do with their bodies as compared to what men are welcome to do with their own, this book can be taken as a time capsule of socially accepted sexism/misogyny or you can go one step further and accept McGee as a sleazy protagonist with unsavory qualities, ...more
Oct 21, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Pritchard is the reader & the audio quality was terrible on these old, second hand tapes, but I'm really glad I listened to it. While I've read a few of these books over the years, I've never read this, the first one. Originally, published in the mid 60's, the Travis McGee series was one of the staples of detective fiction for the next 10 or 15 years.

No, this really isn't a 4 star book, but it gets an extra one for being so popular & making such a wonderful break from the prudis
Aug 03, 2012 Tfitoby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
A man's got to do what a man's got to do

Even when that means believing women are nothing more than objects of his sliding scale of deserved affection and taking advantage of those too weak or too kind or too grateful to say no.

But then that's what everyone says about Travis McGee. What more can you say about the guy?

He's a man of strong moral principles, full of arrogance and conceit, a man who dislikes the America of the sixties yet happily takes advantage of it. He'll take a beating and keep o
Benoit Lelièvre
There's a lot of mid-century detective fiction out there for those who like the genre as much as I do and most of it is equivalent to one another. If you have to only read one though: read John D. MacDonald. Heaven almighty that guy is good. THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY was my first experience with his writing and it enraptured me so hard that I almost requested a sabbatical at work to order and read his entire catalog.

THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY is a crazy good psychological foray into the world of domestic
Lewis Weinstein
I just began to re-read this series, and, how wonderful, I do not remember much from 15 or more years ago. This was, I think, the first of the Travis McGee stories, published in 1964, and it still reads well today, although the series got even better as it went on, especially after Meyer's appearance. Travis is a very flawed hero, but that is part of his appeal. He doesn't always succeed. Some of his attitudes toward women are reprehensible by today's standards, but he always tries to rise to hi ...more
Jul 21, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Travis Magee is a rough, retired, military man with a big heart who lives on "The Busted Flush", a houseboat he aquired in a poker game. When he runs short on funds he takes on the occational investigative, recovery job for the fee of half of whatever he recovers. In this first addition Travis try's to help a young girl find her sadistic ex-boyfriend who stole a fortune that had been buried on the families property for years.

I enjoy this series because it returns us to the simpler days before th
Kathy Davie
Jun 13, 2013 Kathy Davie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
First in the Travis McGee suspense series revolving around Travis, who only works when he needs the money. Based in Florida.

My Take
I found Lee Child's introduction in this edition edifying. I had no idea of MacDonald's background or how the war was likely to have influenced his writing. Child also tips us to MacDonald's environmental stance; it's subtle within the story, and I suspect I'd've missed it if I hadn't read the intro.

MacDonald's books ought to be part of a writer's education on how to
Apr 12, 2012 Jacqie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The writing is actually a 3 or a 4, but the attitudes toward women in this book are extremely condescending in a subversive way, and brought the rating down.

MacDonald can write a potboiler mystery. He's got fist fights, boats, cars, and shady characters. And women, but I'll get to them. A "fixer" main character who will get what you want as long as he gets half. A main character given to superior, worldly musings on the sad state of the world, that make you feel superior and worldly as you read
Sep 17, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: thrillers
THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY. (1964). John D. MacDonald. ****.
This is another adventure for the series hero, Travis McGee. In this tale, McGee is asked by his current lady in waiting to see if he can’t help her girlfriend. It seems that the girlfriend was recently taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guy who was really after her father’s cache of some sort of fortune. Her father had recently died in prison, and this man was one of his cell mates. The father had been convicted of moving valuables out o
I’ve never read a John D. MacDonald book before and I’ve read a lot of good things about his Travis McGee novels, so I thought I might start at the beginning for this series. This is the first in what is now a 21 book series and the first time we meet Travis McGee, a self-described "salvage consultant", almost like a treasure hunter but instead he recovers the property of his clients for a fee; half. He is hired and has to go up against the pathologically evil antagonist Junior Allen, who may se ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
What I like about genre fiction is that very often, a genre novel or story is what it sets out to be - a mystery story, a space opera, a dragon-slaying yarn - and that's often quite enough if done honestly and with imagination, but they can often be all that and something else as well. Take this novel, for instance, a tale of a cool, drifter-type private eye making his way through the endless parties and permissiveness of Florida in the 60s. It's a pretty good private-eye tale, as far as that go ...more
Tom Mathews
An interesting start to the Travis McGee series. I wasn't always comfortable with the male/female interaction but it was written fifty years ago. I did like it when Travis got into his existential musings, a requirement for good pulp.
Nancy Moore
Apr 09, 2011 Nancy Moore rated it really liked it
Plot summary (from Wikipedia):
"The Deep Blue Good-by introduces readers to McGee, his place of residence, the Busted Flush (a houseboat he won in a poker game), and its mooring place, slip F-18 at the Bahia Mar Marina in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In the early chapters we learn that McGee is a bachelor, a man who can be friends with ladies as well as have a passion for them, and a man of principle (although they are somewhat at the mercy of his uncertain emotional condition and his circumstances
Jul 20, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ooops. Forgot to write a review. Very good opening for the Travis McGee series. I found myself liking Trav a lot better on the ground floor. Little things that have annoyed in the three or four books that I have read out of sequence, such as McGee's fixation on himself and how he looks, his way with various disposable "bunnies," and his constant philosophizing, seemed softer, not as packaged. He has his flaws, and he seems aware of them. But he's a good guy. Maybe he won me over as he looked out ...more
Apr 22, 2014 Ms.pegasus rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the mystery genre
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: my husband
Shelves: mystery, fiction, thriller
Travis McGee finds things. It's enough for living “off the grid” on a houseboat in Lauderdale. It's enough for a guy who keeps his problems locked up and his life simple. This is MacDonald's introduction to Travis McGee.

Cathy Kerr, a hard-scrabble unwed mother, asks for Travis's help. She works in the lounge dance troupe of Chookie McCall, one of Travis's few close friends. Cathy's father was involved in illegal activities during his stint in air transport during World War II. He died in prison
Erik Erickson
May 28, 2012 Erik Erickson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hardboiled fans
Recommended to Erik by: Wikipedia
MacDonald's first entry in the Travis McGee series is a well-written and thoroughly engaging read. Its central character and narrator is a charismatic loner with some great inner dialog on the topics of society and the environment (as many others have noted here) and is a notable descendent of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, but not a complete recasting.

Although it didn't bother me due to the originating era and McGee's personality, all the women in the story are curiously 2-dimensional given the
David Graham
Jan 02, 2014 David Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember buying a Travis McGee Omnibus in my mid-teens while I was on holidays and loving the character John D. MacDonald had created. The omnibus included The Quick Red Fox, Deadly Shade of Gold and Bright Orange for the Shroud. Again, in these pre-Amazon days a long time went by before I came across another Travis McGee novel and it was in a Stockholm department store of all places in the mid 90's. They seemed to have at least half of the entire series and I devoured them at a rapid pace. Mc ...more
Louis Lowy
May 26, 2016 Louis Lowy rated it it was amazing
The Deep Blue Good-by is John D. MacDonald’s initial entry in his 12 book Travis McGee series. Quite simply, it’s magnificent. It’s a hard-edged crime thriller that at the same time contains emotionally powerful characters, starting with McGee—who lives on a boat called the Royal Flush on the southern end of Florida in Bahia Mar. The salvage hunter constantly questions his own motives, morals, and sentiments. The other characters also radiate this region: steamy, hot, and transient.

Derek Dowell
Feb 18, 2012 Derek Dowell rated it it was amazing
There’s a reason guys like me are still talking and writing on websites like this about Travis McGee almost fifty years after John D. MacDonald’s fictional boat bum and salvage consultant ambled onto the world stage for the first time. If this is the first you’ve heard of Mr. McGee or the book that hosted his first appearance, welcome to The Deep Blue Good-By. Gather ’round kiddies. You’re in for a treat.

Verily, verily, before there was Carl Hiaasen, Randy Wayne White, and Tim Dorsey, there was
Greg Z
Sep 14, 2016 Greg Z rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Our "hero", Travis McGee, is just slightly less of a bad guy than the villain. He is hired to help a damsel in distress, and as payment for his service, he invites her to bed. And she jumps right in. Yes, this work is a product of its time and is very outdated. But 99% of current literature, in fifty years, will feel the same. So I'll try to judge it on its one merit: this book is a fast, mindless, fluff type of book, one you might want to read between, say, Tolstoy's "War and Peace" and Dostoye ...more
Benjamin Thomas
I first read this novel back in High School and was ill-prepared to appreciate its style. I had read science fiction, fantasy, and books like Doc Savage almost exclusively and I thought it was high time I branched out. In fact, I think this was the first book of the hard boiled crime/noir/PI genre I had ever read. It seemed dull to me at the time but as I grew older (and older) and sampled more and more of the genre and came to love it even, I knew that someday I would get back to Travis McGee a ...more
**3.5 stars**

I purchased this audiobook only because it was narrated by Robert Petkoff, one of my favorite narrators. I knew absolutely nothing about this series but as I read mysteries too, I figured I should give it a shot.

The Deep Blue Good-by is not a mystery per se, but more of an investigation in which Travis McGee is charged with recovering some stolen property from a very nasty character who likes to rape women. The story moves along as Travis encounters all sorts of different women this
Apr 14, 2009 Lois rated it really liked it
Intriguing writing. The feel of it from a different era, like watching a movie made half a century ago. Reasonable enough, since the book was published in 1964. It's like listening to the original radio broadcasts of Dragnet, or watching a black-and-white movie where rich people in Connecticut still talk differently instead of today's movies, where so many accents have been homogenized. Or even like episodes from It Takes a Thief (which I've seen recently on this Retro TV channel) where the slan ...more
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Mysteries & Crime...: Feb 2015 read - The deep blue good-bye 12 73 Feb 27, 2015 04:37PM  
Travis McGee 10 63 Jan 18, 2015 07:33AM  
Pulp Fiction: February 2014 - The Deep Blue Good-By 11 65 Mar 15, 2014 11:00PM  
The Backlot Gay B...: The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald 2 13 Oct 20, 2013 09:24AM  
Pulp Fiction: Travis McGee 37 77 Sep 21, 2013 12:21PM  
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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)
  • 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)
  • The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper (Travis McGee #10)
  • Dress Her in Indigo (Travis McGee #11)

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“I am wary of the whole dreary deadening structured mess that we have built into such a glittering top-heavy structure that there is nothing left to see but the glitter, and the brute routines of maintaining it.” 19 likes
“A man with a credit card is in hock to his own image of himself.” 15 likes
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