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A Purple Place for Dying (Travis McGee #3)

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  3,016 ratings  ·  122 reviews
A beautiful woman calls Travis McGee to Arizona. She needs his help recovering the money that her good-for-nothing, soon-to-be-ex-husband stole from her. But she's not long for the world, and even though his employer dies, Travis isn't giving up. It's not often he leaves Florida, and he's not about to go home empty-handed. The third Travis McGee adventure.
Paperback, 285 pages
Published May 27th 1995 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1964)
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Stormy Weather by Carl HiaasenTourist Season by Carl HiaasenThe Deep Blue Good-By by John D. MacDonaldBasket Case by Carl HiaasenSkinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen
Florida Mystery/Thrillers
11th out of 128 books — 69 voters
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald DahlHarriet the Spy by Louise FitzhughThe Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinNerve by Dick FrancisA Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Best Books of 1964
25th out of 60 books — 31 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cathy DuPont
May 25, 2013 Cathy DuPont rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone especially non-readers
Just to make sure that readers of this review understand up front that Travis McGee is my best guy ever. Please consider that my only disclaimer. Been in love with Travis since I first met him in the early 1970's.

 photo apurpleplacefirstedition_zps6c13a0c5.jpg
First Edition Cover and Probably One I Read

This review is based, in part, on comments made on a blog created by D. R. Martin called Travis McGee and Me which I read and comment on regularly. All fans of John D. MacDonald and Travis should check it out. But a cautionary note, there are
We have decided to add the Travis McGee set to our reading list; this third entry (of 21 total) is our third. Some early plot developments remind us of a tale where Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is thrown into jail only to be released almost immediately as he “instructs” the cops on how to really pursue the case. {Child is a huge fan and has written introductions to many MacDonald books...} In “Purple”, Travis is accompanying a brand new client to a cabin in Arizona to get the low-down on her case wh ...more
Dennis D.
For more background, refer also to my GoodReads review of John D. MacDonald’s first Travis McGee book, The Deep Blue Good-By. From what I’ve learned, that book, its sequel Nightmare in Pink, and this book were all written at the same time in 1964, and then released in consecutive months. As a result, they’re all cut from the same cloth, and all equally establish the back-story of one Travis McGee, "salvage consultant".

Once again, we find McGee as a fish out of water, this time out west. He’s cal
There is nothing like reading a book that was written the year you were born to make you realize that the world has, in fact, changed beyond recognition. This book, in particular, will also make you realize that whoa, feminism and the changes it has wrought were long overdue and probably saved your life by coming along when you were small. The scary thing is that I almost certainly read this book for the first time when I was a young teenager and soaking up all the Travis McGee I could get my ha ...more
Apparently the first three novels in John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series were published simultaneously in early 1964. A Purple Place for Dying was the third. I enjoyed it more than the first two, but it's still pretty similar, and the things I don't like about the series so far are still here in full force. McGee's musings on the ways of the world always seem as if they're supposed to be profound, but they're generally trite and dated. And there's always a frigid, neurotic, female character ...more
Carla Remy
My only complaint was the physical book I was reading. I have built my John D Macdonald library by purchasing old paperbacks - very affordable. This one was an original 1964 paperback, I don't know if it had been read before. Very cool. But the pages wouldn't open all the way so it was a pain. That's all. On the upside, it had a very handsome photo of John D on the back, super young and attractive in his 40s (at 36, 40s seem that way I guess).
A PURPLE PLACE FOR DYING turns out to be the Desert Southwest. As McGee realizes, he’s “too far from the bright water and the bright boats” (p199) for either comfort or safety. He’s still got head snakes, bad wiring and the “flying twitches” from NIGHTMARE IN PINK when he decides he doesn’t want the job being offered by a rich rancher’s absurdly vibrant blond wife--and then a sniper shoots Mona Yeoman very dead as she’s standing only a few feet away from our horrified hero. Determined to suss ou ...more
May 27, 2008 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: mystery
"I heard her gasp, They'd picked a great spot, steep rock on both sides. I'd hit the brakes, banged it (the car) into reverse, stuck my head out the window and went down the winding slope backward at a crazy speed. There was one hell of a crack, and a sharp peppery stinging on the back of my neck. It startled me enough to put me off. I banged the rock and came back onto the road again and into a curve and missed the curve, slid it backward onto a ride to a grinding stop, rear wheels lifted clear ...more
Jeff Yoak
On my 2010 review of the Travis McGee series, this is the first of the novels that lived up to my memory. Travis is pulled in by an unhappy young wife to help her recover the estate left to her and stolen by her husband and he discovers that the story runs much deeper and becomes much more dangerous. It is gripping throughout. The characters are more fully drawn than in the previous novels and there is even mention of his "economist friend" Meyer, whom I know from experience will become on of my ...more
Harv Griffin
In 1964 John D. MacDonald broke many of the plot rules for popular fiction, several of the main-character rules, and took the narrative drive into social commentary. He kicked literary ass with Travis McGee. Travis is one of my faves, but there is a love/hate thing for him on GoodReads. #3 in the series; I've read this one 5+ times. @hg47
Ed [Redacted]
Another Travis McGee novel, this one notable only for its change of venue; Arizona this time rather than Florida. I was not particularly impressed by the story, but the pacing and dialog were of the familiar MacDonald quality. This isn't his best work, but any MacDonald novel is going to be worth reading.
"Just because you see this here gun in my hand, and you see that knife he was coming at me with? What in the world would make you think I shot him?"

"Well, I was just..."

"Shut up," Jass said.

Synopsis: In the third Travis McGee mystery, McGee gets set up by--go figure--a big buxom blonde with an ass like a Studebaker, who is then killed in front of his eyes, thousands of miles from home.

Mona Yeoman is a big comfortable woman dissatisfied with her big comfortable life and convinced her husband has
A PURPLE PLACE FOR DYING. (1964). John D. MacDonald. ****.
This is one of MacDonald’s better McGee mysteries – although he still had trouble with male/female relationships and its attendant language. McGee is recommended by a friend to see if he can help a young woman get money back from her husband who has been milking her estate for about fifteen years. It all started out as a guardian relationship, but ultimately turned into a marriage of convenience. The convenience wasn’t all on the side of
May 23, 2013 Col rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: m, 2013
Mona is in love with a poor, young college professor and married to a wealthy man whom she is convinced is stealing from her trust fund. So she does what any self-respecting girl would do: She hires someone to steal her money back so she can run away with the love of her life.

Travis isn’t sure he wants to help out until he sees Mona getting shot and killed out on the cliffs near her cabin. Now he’s a lead suspect in a plot to help her escape, and to clear his name, he needs to
The third in the Travis McGee series finds McGee out west in what is presumably Nevada, although the geography is scrambled. A nice shocker at the end of the first chapter sets the story off at an unpredictable angle. Whereas most McGee books identify the bad guy pretty early on, and we see McGee stalk and eventually confront him, this one is more of a whodunit—we find the culprit towards the end, and it's not very plausible. Those who accuse MacDonald of misogyny have a point in this one. The c ...more
This is my third John D. MacDonald book and all I can say is he is just allright with me. Good story line but the final confession was a little goofy as in somebody would only behave that way in a detective novel. But then that's why I read the thing in the first place. Good prose, typical tough cynic detective/salvage runner but worth the time.
Mar 17, 2015 Pete rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: have
Travis McGee is back. I read somewhere that the first three McGee novels were submitted at the same time. All three novels have a different feel to them. I have to wonder if MacDonald was trying to get a handle on the character or if he was trying to get a feel as to which style was most enjoyed by readers. Blue is an awesome thriller. Pink is a sex read. Purple brings back the fun in more of a mystery than anything else. All three contain great writing that is both beautif ...more
I knew these would be dated, and likely sexist and racist (and they are), but what finally wore me down was the facile pop psychology "insights." This is, therefore, my last one. Important to the genre they may have been, but they are no more readable today than are most of the 1940's space opera yarns from the pulps.
Edward Creter
This third addition to the Travis series leaves little to the imagination....and littler still to be desired. The previous outing was cool. This one...not so much. Travis has just met the smokin hot Mona Fox, a married woman with a score to settle. She wants land and cash fast, only her hubby Jass won't give either of the above. Then, just as the first chapter is coming to a close, she gets bloen away by a hidden sniper, BEFORE she becomes a huge part of the Travis McGee Universe, which is the s ...more
I started reading the John D MacDonald "Travis McGee" series on the recommendation of a friend whose opinion I value; so it was a bit of a surprise to find that I didn't find them particularly engaging. This is really a review of the first three books (The Deep Blue Goodbye, Nightmare in Pink and A Purple Place for Dying)as I stuck with them to see if my views would improve but they really didn't.
The stories themselves are OK; fairly standard thriller fare but well plotted and written. The centr
Jul 25, 2014 Chuck rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chuck by: Phil Henry
This was my sixteenth John McDonald book which was one of the Travis McGee series. The book was better than most and most are fine mystery novels. Mr. McGee, however, took a break from his normal southern Florida Marina life to solve a crime in the deserts of the American southwest. Other issues were similar: plenty of dead bodies, plenty of clues, plenty of striking and interesting people and a good story tied together with McDonald's prose and wisdom.
McGee sets out on what seems an implausible quest, to recover money secured deep in dishonest financial skulduggery. The story becomes much deeper and more engrossing as the book goes on, ending up in a place quite far from what I imagined at the beginning. This is a good thing because not even Steig Larsson could interest me in money morasses. It ends in a place calls a purple place for dying. Hence the intriguing title.
18 may 15, #36 from macdonald for me, the 3rd travis mcgee story i will read and this is travis mcgee #3 just finished Nightmare in Pink...and been some time since i read the first, The Deep Blue Good-Bye
20 may 15, finished
good story. takes place out west state not named, esmerelda county, and there is an actual county in nevada by that name. in this one, it's not much of a spoiler to write that one dame dies early, within the first few pages give or take. money is involved. isn't it always invo
The twenty one novels in the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald were written between 1964 and 1984, and proved to be very popular among readers and critics alike.

Unlike most detectives in crime fiction, McGee is neither a cop or a private investigator. He describes himself as a "salvage expert", who recovers other people's property for a fee.

An admitted beach bum, he lives in Florida on his boat, The Busted Flush, and only takes on cases when his cash is running low.

After the author's deat
Daniel Sevitt
I had almost forgotten about John D. MacDonald and Travis McGee. I read the first two years ago and wasn't in a big hurry to track the rest of them down, but today when I was looking for somthing light to read I found the next three books in the series that I must have picked up cheap in California a few years ago.

McGee is unreconstructed fun. Women are always defined by their looks and their suitability for sex and they always need either a pat on the head or on the rump just to keep them in l
Chuck Rylant
I enjoyed this book much more than the prior two. I'm reading the series in order. It seems that his writing is improving with each book. The ending was unpredictable, but a bit abrupt. Great read and keeps you turning the pages with his great writing style.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liz Mandeville
I LOVE Travis McGee. And I've managed to hook my blues band on him too. We listened to this book on an I-phone while driving the 7 hours from Orlando to Mobile and it was perfect!

Travis makes one of his rare departures from Florida to do a favor for a friend. It's like a Shakespearean tragedy in that one by one the players end up dead, dead and dead! Who could have done all this killing? If I tell you it will spoil all the fun. Let it suffice to say that Trav is true to himself, an ethical man w
Set in the West, Mona Yeoman hires Travis McGee so she can marry college professor John Webb and get the money back that her soon-to-be ex husband Jass stole from her. The premise of the McGee novels is that he takes on cases where he can return what has been taken wrongly or stolen from the client. Then McGee's fee would be a portion of the value of the returned item(s). The language, plot, characters are all enjoyable and make for an easy read. MacDonald's gimmick for the series is employing a ...more
I've been wending my way through the Travis McGee books in the same way I read Lee Child's Reacher books: as a rest stop between more taxing bits of literature, a reader's palate cleanser. I've always liked MacDonald's concept of McGee--not a policeman, not a P.I., but something unique--more than the execution (Child's is a bit more believable with his female characters), but Purple is by far the best of the first three books. McGee shows off his talent for shaking things up and less on rescuing ...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)
  • 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)
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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“It would be one kind of penance. And there are never enough kinds. Not for him. Not for me. And certainly not for you, my friend.” 3 likes
“My friend Meyer, the economist, says that cretins are the only humans who can be absolutely certain of their own sanity. All the rest of us go rocketing along rickety rails over spavined bridges and along the edge of bottomless gorges. The man who believes himself free of any taint of madness is a damned liar.” 1 likes
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