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A Tan and Sandy Silence (Travis McGee #13)

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  2,186 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
Travis McGee is the strikingly handsome and ever resourceful invention of John D. MacDonald. Born in the author's imagination in 1964, McGee drifted into the world on a 52-foot diesel-powered houseboat, the Busted Flush, which he has used as a base of operations through many adventures.

In A TAN AND SANDY SILENCE, news of a former girlfriend's mysterious disappearance leads

Mass Market Paperback, Reprint. U.S. Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 12th 1985 by Fawcett Books (first published January 1st 1971)
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When rereading one of these Travis McGee novel, I have to weigh the parts I like against the terrible sexism inherent to the books. Usually this balances out fairly evenly, but this time the old Sea Cock* dropped the equivalent of a cartoon anvil on the wrong side of the scales.

*(Sea Cock McGee is the fabulous nickname Amanda coined in her great review of Darker Than Amber.)

This one had a lot of promise starting out. McGee is having a personal crisis after a misjudgment nearly gets him killed, a
Mar 08, 2015 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
"We're all children. We invent the adult facade and don it and try to keep the buttons and the medals polished. We're all trying to give such a good imitation of being an adult that the real adults in the world won't catch on." - John D. MacDonald, A Tan and Sandy Silence


John D. MacDonald's pulp novels are a perfect beach read. They are unassuming, consistently over-deliver, produce better one-liners than a George Carlin set AND seem to have captured perfectly a very American, libertarian ethos
Well this one wasn't as impressive. It's actually a rather ugly and sordid story thanks to the middle part when McGee tracks down a suspect hiding out on the island nation of Grenada. Though it did have some good points.

It's my third Travis McGee novel and it's definitely a product of it's time - late sixties/early seventies. As has been pointed out by another reviewer this novel smacks of the Macho Man mentality that was very popular at the time.I have encountered a few men who are big believe
Victoria Mixon
Huh. I guess MacDonald was getting pretty sick of Travis McGee.

As much as I like MacDonald's careful plotting and meticulous writing, I'm not recommending this one. It smacks far too much of the hysterical shock-value bullshit of 1970s he-man culture.

How does MacDonald fail to see the parallel between his psycho serial killer torturing victims to get information out of them and McGee spending a lackadaisical afternoon repeatedly choking a young woman to the point of black-out to get information
Mar 18, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 13th in the Travis McGee series is a solid entry into the canon, with yet another "salvage" case for problem-solver McGee(this one's not money) and a memorable sociopathic baddie Ian Fleming would have loved. I'd rate this an above-average McGee, with a few new twists: travels around Caribbean islands; lots of Meyer; and Trav struggling with his life philosophy in the face of a novel proposition for "retirement." Someone once noted that the book titles always allude to the way the lead femal ...more
Tom Vater
May 15, 2012 Tom Vater rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I’ve had a sad and happy week. I just finished reading John D. MacDonald‘s A Tan And Sandy Silence, one of the celebrated crime writer’s 21 stories featuring charismatic, extremely likeable boat bum, amateur philosop
Jan 20, 2017 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, owned
Not the best entry in the McGee series imo... Less humor & more gritty than those I like better.
Sep 18, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
A TAN AND SANDY SILENCE. (1971). John D. MacDonald. ****.
It’s all about money, and money is usually attached to a land deal of one kind or another in south Florida. McGee runs into a syndicate that is going public with their stock in an attempt to raise enough capital to launch a huge construction project. One of the fringe investors in the company has a big piece of the action as stock options. He needs to come up with a large hunk of change - $300,000 – to buy up the other shares he needs to m
Feb 12, 2013 Mr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Travis McGee, our “tinhorn Gawain,” is changing. He hasn’t been a smoker (not even of manly pipes) for half-a-dozen books now, although no mention is ever made of Trav quitting. Since THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY, our hero has been shot several times, cut with a knife and punched silly by an ex-prizefighter. The first queasy stirrings of doubts about his instincts and reflexes that began in THE LONG LAVENDER LOOK have grown to alarm bells. The Lauderdale boat-bum who steals from thieves, often at the r ...more
JoAnna Spring
It's probably not John MacDonald's fault I didn't finish this book. I tried to read it in little pieces and kept losing the story.

One of Trav's friends is missing and he goes to Mexico to check it out. Lots of money shenanigans and real estate blah blah.

As I have come to expect, however, I love McGee a little more with each book:

"The sun bleaches my hair and burns it and dries it out. And the salt water makes it feel stiff and look like some kind of Dynel [I have no idea what that is....:]. Wer
Oct 16, 2014 Jane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2014, hardboiled
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Definitely not the best in John MacDonald's Travis McGee series. I was thrilled to see Meyer playing such a large role in the story - I'd missed him! - and was curious to read about Grenada, an island I have not been to yet - but the story as a whole dragged quite a bit, and I nearly fell asleep many nights right in the middle of a chapter, something I almost never do. And some of the language in the book was off-putting, but considering that the book was written nearly 40 years ago, I'm not sur ...more
Harv Griffin
Dec 29, 2012 Harv Griffin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, own

This is not one of my favorite Travis McGee novels, although it is competently constructed, and has some good moments. Any McGee will do if I’m bored, and there’s nothing else around to read. This puppy didn’t really grab me until about page 66; even then, I could pull free anytime I wanted. TAN is a serviceable Hunt-For-A-Girl story. Maybe I don’t much like TAN because Trav gets tied up and almost killed twice! @hg47
Aug 02, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#13 in the Travis McGee series.

Travis McGee is visited and shot at by Harry Broll, a real estate developer who insists his missing wife would have fled to McGee. Something doesn't ring true and Travis and friend Meyer look for the missing Mary and encounter a web of high finance deception and murder stretching from Lauderdale to Grenada.
Jun 12, 2015 wally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: macdonald
12 jun 15
#48 from macdonald for me and this is the 14th travis mcgee story. if you only read the travis mcgee stories you are missing out on some fine story-telling. i've read 34 non-travis-mcgee stories and they rock and roll. macdonald rocks the casbah. just finished Dress Her in Indigo onward and upward.

15 jun 15
finished. good story! worth a read. the bad guy in this one gives me the heebie-jeebies, more so when one realizes there are people...too that in the world. they walk amo
Nov 03, 2014 Canavan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oct 01, 2007 Randy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Damn. I had forgotten how good this stuff was.
Jul 16, 2008 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is a memorable one, for sure. McGee comes very close to dying here.
Travis McGee worries he's slowing down in this one, and I have to agree with him, since I anticipated trouble coming twice that surprised him. Still, herein we have another good sociopath like Junior Allen and Boo. Now if Travis would just quit referring to himself in the third person...
Aug 13, 2014 Shuriu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Seventy-seven dollars is over a hundred and fifty dollars in our currency. In Biwi dollars. A house servant in Barbados might make fifty dollars, Biwi, a month. A waiter or waitress might make seventy-five dollars, Biwi, a month. So how does a human person feel serving or cleaning up after another human person who pays two or three months wages for one single night in a room? Sir, it is like such a terrible arrogance and thoughtlessness. It makes hate, sir.It makes contempt. So the cleaning is ...more
Pete Hoetjes
Jan 22, 2016 Pete Hoetjes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Spoiler Free Review:

After almost a decade and over a dozen Florida-set novels written, it is comforting to know that John MacDonald isn't changing the Travis McGee formula too much. Just over halfway into the series of 21 color-coded books, A Tan and Sandy Silence begins as most do; aboard the Busted Flush, McGee's houseboat moored at Slip F-18 at the Bahia Mar Marina in Lauderdale. Apparently some years ago, he met a broken woman on the beach named Mary, took pity on her, and invited her bac
Dec 19, 2016 Wayne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the less entertaining Travis Magee novels....yet I still look forward to starting the next one.
Mackenzie Brown
Jul 26, 2015 Mackenzie Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book 13 in the Travis McGee series starts with our rugged beach bum out of sorts and filled with self doubt. On reflection this is perhaps the most introspective McGee novel up to this point.
When the husband of an old friend comes looking for his wife and nearly blows McGee’s head off with a small calibre gun in the process, our hero is shaken. He wonders if he isn’t getting too old for the dangerous line of work he often takes on. When he calms down, he begins to wonder why indeed Mary Broll h
Aaron Martz
This book starts off like any other McGee book, with a startling sequence of suspense (This time around, a man from McGee's past comes aboard the Flush and tries to kill him), and before McGee knows it, he's looking for that man's missing wife, an adventure which takes him all the way to Grenada. The first half of the book is taut and well-written, but the book becomes sloppy in its last half, and its resolution is unfocused. What is memorable about the book is the sadistic, psychotic villain an ...more
Paul O'Grady
Jan 18, 2013 Paul O'Grady rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
My favorite character in detective fiction is Rex Stout's Archie Goodwin. His breezy wise-cracking manner just made the stories fun and bright. This installment of the Travis McGee series is the antithesis of a good Nero Wolfe mystery. It had all the charm and suspense of a 1970s episode of Mannix. McGee's psychological musings in this novel were dull and pedantic. He behavior towards and opinions about women are nothing short of appalling. With the possible exception of his sidekick Meyer, I fo ...more
Jan 08, 2009 Amy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing
Sadly, I don't have time to read this book in the near future, so I will release it. But I did raed the forward by one of my favorite authors, Carl Hiaasen, which was definitely worth it. One of the things I love about Hiaasen is his passion for the land and environment of Florida and his despair at how humankind is crapping it up. The intro alone is worth the read, and Hiaasen's parting words as to where Travis McGee is now, after the death of John D MacDonlad, make me want to start in on this ...more
Aug 12, 2015 Lynette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Introspective trip through Travis’s perception of women and how he relates to them against the backdrop of Florida greed, corruption, real estate scams, murder, impersonation, sociopathy – the full pallet of criminal parlor tricks – with side pieces including the Grenadines, an all-female naked schooner crew, Travis’s crisis of conscience over whether to become a kept man, brushes with death, and Travis’s devoted friendship with Meyer. All in all, a very satisfying entry in the McGee liturgy. (s ...more
Nov 29, 2009 Valerie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Valerie by: Julie Neer
I'm only going to write one review for this whole series, because, frankly, I read them so long ago that I think they've all blurred for me. My mother, and perhaps Uncle, were really gung-ho about these, and gave them to me to read when I was about 13 or so...I suppose the thinking was that if I grew up to be a womanizing, semi-violent bachelor living on a houseboat in Florida, I would be well prepared.

I remember enjoying the books when I read them, but I don't think I ever reread any of them.
James Schubring
May 16, 2013 James Schubring rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a sense of tiredness as a main theme of this story. It drags the reader's (or, at least, my) energy down.

This is the story of a clever younger man who has a taste for money and murder. He comes up against the clever older man Travis McGee and bests McGee twice, but it unable to close his murderous attempts in both cases.

There's a lot in this book to love, but it didn't click for me like Darker Than Amber. I'll keep reading in the series, though. There's plenty here to love. I'm just grou
Michael Fredette
Jul 28, 2014 Michael Fredette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John D. MacDonald, a prolific post-war crime novelist, is best known for his Travis McGee series, of which A Tan and Sandy Silence (1971) is a part. In this novel, Travis McGee, boat bum and unlicensed private investigator looks into the disappearance of his former girlfriend Mary. She has been married for three years to a faithless, overweight, wealthy real estate investor named Harold Broll. After catching him cheating, Mary leaves him then disappears. Travis investigates whether or not she le ...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)
  • The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper (Travis McGee #10)

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