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The Scarlet Ruse (Travis McGee #14)

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  1,407 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Travis McGee is too busy with his houseboat to pay attention to the little old man with the missing postage stamps. Except these are no ordinary stamps. They are rare stamps. Four hundred thousand dollars worth of rare. And if McGee doesn't recognize their value, perhaps Mary Alice McDermit does, a six-foot knockout who knows all the ways to a boat bum's heart. Only it's n ...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published March 9th 1996 by Fawcett Books (first published July 1st 1972)
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Thanks to this one and Lawrence Block’s Keller series, I know more about philately then I ever thought I would.

Travis McGee is coming off of one of his periodic retirements and looking for a new salvage gig in which he’ll try to recover items that people were scammed out of for half their value. His client this time is a stamp dealer named Hirsh who puts together collections for people looking to use them as investments. Hirsh had been working with Frank Sprenger who is well-connected to the kin
I love the Travis McGee series (I am reading them in order, slowly, and savoring them as I'm all too aware how finite the series is) but this one felt a little flat to me. I'm not sure why--especially because the few prior were really superb. (Or maybe because of that?) THE SCARLET RUSE offers, as many of the books do, insights into a slightly arcane subject matter area: where we've prior learned about, say, real estate financing, this time it's the world of very rare stamp investing. The novel ...more
JoAnna Spring
Engaging, fun summer read. Meyer (the hairy economist philosopher) has an old friend (that is, the friend is an old man) who manages fancy stamp collections. An big book of expensive rare stamps being managed for a mob guy has been mysteriously replaced with a big book of worthless stamps. Trav takes the case, hooks up with an interesting chick, and figures it all out.

It was written in '73 and I am sad at how far it seems we haven't come:

"Meyer made one of his surveys of the elderly couple in t
Aug 01, 2011 Andrea added it
The book began very dramatically... the powers that be in Ft Lauderdale passed a resolution banning permanent habitation on boats. Oh, no! Meyer and Travis are going to be booted off their boats or will have to find a new place to dock. Given the huge role played by the ocean and the various boats in this series, this seemed like a *major* story line in the making. How were Travis and Meyer going to get out of this? What was going to happen to the Busted Flush? I was hooked!

Too bad the matter wa
The busted Flush is threatened with eviction from Bahia Mar, but it turn out to be a ruse (heh, heh).

The story revolves around mobsters, stamp collecting and investments. In the middle of the book, there is the standard line of live-and-let-live philosophy. But McGee is starting to sound like Spicolli," Good waves and some tasty bud, dude."

The second half of the novel turns interesting with an atypical, snarling, sociopathic female, that plays McGee all to well. Of course, she has to die. This b
THE SCARLET RUSE. (1973). John D. MacDonald. ****.
As you probably know, Travis McGee is in the salvage business. If you lose something that you can’t otherwise get back, he will find it for you and take, as commission, 50% of the value of what he recovers. His friend Meyer came to him and let him know that a friend of his needed his help. Meyer’s friend was a stamp dealer who was working with a client on a collection of investment stamps. His client was probably a member of the syndicate who wan
Apr 27, 2014 Ms.pegasus rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the roots of mystery/thriller fiction
Shelves: fiction, thriller, mystery
Among Travis's small circle of friends is Meyer, a brilliant economist who, like Travis, lives on the water. His modest floating domain is appropriately named “The John Maynard Keynes.” Meyer exudes a rabbinical wisdom, passionate outrage over injustice and, being Travis's friend, he is not afraid to pull up his shirt sleeves and get a bit dirty. That same loyalty provokes him to seek Travis's help on behalf of an old friend, Hirsh Fedderman, an elderly philatelist and dealer. Fedderman purchase ...more
I loved this one ... I'm getting hooked on John D. MacDonald and Travis McGee, but this one seemed especially poignant to me. I loved the way Travis let himself get taken in by Mary Alice, written so brilliantly to capture him and sucker the one guy who is so hard to fool. I loved just how battered he was at the end of this one, how thoroughly he paid for letting himself get taken.
Poor T. McGee! After a six-month installment of his periodic retirement, he’s inexplicably in the doldrums, feeling joyless and anxious--and he’s getting low on funds. Also, a new city ordinance is threatening to break up the eccentric community of permanent boat dwellers in the Bahia Mar marina he calls home. However, helpful Meyer brings him a new salvage job, helping professional philatelist Hirsh Fedderman recover a valuable stamp collection that, almost impossibly, has been replaced by near ...more
It was scary good!
So, far this series is my fifth all time favorite of Travis McGee's mystery adventure. She was so cunning, and a sly as a fox to used men just to get her own end. Taking advantage a trusting old man Fedderman, and exploiting his collectibles/rare stamps that are worth four hundred thousand dollars.

Execute her friend Jane Lawson, and set up McGee and Sprenger to dispatch each other. Mary Alice McDermit, was the most hazardous syndicate killer, but Travis McGee knows a devious w
John D Macdonald is quickly becoming my favorite pulp mystery writer. Sure, he invites you in with some cheap sex bit. But at least he makes you wait till chapter 4 to learn who the dame is. Macdonald does this stuff right. So many other writers of this genre get totally lost in the imagery of the women.
One of the best in the series, as McGee gets involved with mobsters, stamp collectors and a tall, buxom Bad Girl who nearly gets him killed. And an elderly but formidable woman named Miss Moojah, whose skill with a toy baseball bat is the stuff of legend.
Travis McGee is not god. But he is superhuman. This is not the best Travis McGee mystery I've read, which makes it merely awesome. Plus you learn about stamp collecting. Without giving too much away...I've already said too much. Read it!
One of the oddest milieus--investing in rare stamps--for a Travis McGee book, but it also contains one of his best and most lyrical passages, an insightful glimpse at McGee's personality:

"...I am apart. Always I have seen around me all the games and parades of life and have always envied the players and the marchers. I watch the cards they play and feel in my belly the hollowness as the big drums go by, and I smile and shrug and say, Who needs games? Who wants parades? The world seems to be mass
Harv Griffin

This is one of the better McGee novels in my opinion. It's fun. It has lots of Meyer. It has rare stamps. It has a woman Travis McGee is actually going out of his way to impress. It is an actual salvage operation [they stole from you—I'll steal it back, but I keep half], in addition to a favor for Meyer. It has devious mobsters. It has John D. doing his underworld riff on the way the bad guys really operate. It has Meyer waxing philosophical and pessimistic about developing nations. Did I mentio
This is my introduction to the Travis McGee mysteries, and I liked it well enough. McGee calls himself a salvage guy, which nicely sidesteps the need for murder on murder that some mysteries fall into, which I liked: theft is almost always more interesting, from a logistical point-of-view.

McGee has some friends, a little network of sorts, which I don't think I've seen enough of, either, and he has lots of semi-poetic, mostly anti-consumerist, pro-environment asides, which I liked, mostly. It mak
Travis McGee's new 'salvage' job is helping a rare stamp dealer who it appears has been tricked out of over a quarter a million in rare stamps which endangers both his future livelihood and his life. Of course, there is a woman - this time a 6 foot beauty with a mysterious past.
Joan Schrock
Travis McGee aboard his "Busted Flush" and another John McDonald mystery that is hard to put down. The crime is a stolen collection of rare stamps right out of a bank deposit box with 3 people present and no apparent way it could have been done.
Howard Brazee
Typical Travis McGee novel. This one had criminals using valuable stamps to hold untraceable wealth.
A better than average McGee title.
An easy, entertaining read.
Peggy Huey
This book was my first foray into John MacDonald's books. While it provided an interesting look at the world of stamp collecting, it wasn't the type of book that just drew me in and wouldn't let me leave the world of Travis McGee. I am still willing to give MacDonald a chance and will look for a book that is earlier in the series to get a better feel for the style that has made both MacDonald and McGee so beloved by their fans.
Julie Davis
Much better than the first of the Travis McGee books, The Deep Blue Good-bye, that I reread recently. However, not as great as I wanted it to be. Part of it is McGee's constant commentary on women, which I tire of. Just say it once or twice, ok, and then move on to something else. I. don't. care. about. your. personal. philosophy. on. women! (Even though it was "progressive" by private detective standards in 1970, I'm sure.) Boring.
This was my eighth or ninth John D. MacDonald book and if you read that many it is generally a sign of appreciation of an author. Although I am glad that I read this mystery, it was the weakest selection to this point. Too much philosophy, too much violence, too many over the edge characters and too many words to have to explain how everything tied together. I will move on to the next Travis McGee endeavor with higher expectations.
I think this was the 20th book I've in the Travis McGee series, but it's the first one I didn't like that much. There were the usual profound nuggets of McGee wisdom and philosophy ("Today, my friends, we each have one day less, every one of us. And joy is the only thing that slows the clock.") But MacDonald belabors the intricacies of the plot and declaws the tension when McGee starts asking far too many "What if...?" questions.
Nancy Moore
I've read all of this series and loved every one. I read them in order - I always read a series in order, in fact, I'm compulsive about it - because I like to follow the character's life and the author's writing as they both grow. Mr. MacDonald never disappointed - each one is a great thrill ride and they got better each time. Read my review on "The Deep Blue Good-by" to meet Travis, and get ready for some great reading!
David Ward
The Scarlet Ruse (Travis McGee #14) by John D. MacDonald (Fawcett 1973)(Fiction-Mystery). Travis McGee learns about stamp trading and the underworld. Now if he can just figure out who switched the stamps...These are wonderfully written mysteries, light as a feather, disposable as a tissue, and as dated as a rotary telephone. They are all great fun! My rating: 7/10, finished 1986.
To be honest, this book took me forever to read. In the end, I almost gave up on the Travis series, thinking it had nothing new to offer. If a reader gets to this book and feels tired of it by the third chapter, skip it. There is not much information gained by reading this book and the series will still continue, with much better reading and more exciting adventures.
A wonderful book, interesting con...Meyer to the rescue big time. Good use of his skills.

Lots of former woman come back to be remembered, including Puss K.

book features a lot about stamps and made be think of L. Block's character, Keller. Wonder if Block ever read this book,

Good stuff/
Never disappointed. Sometimes when I'm reading these books, I get completely lost in the deep jargon of either the time or the people. I've stopped trying to understand it fully and just let it wash over me like calculus and just respond to the emotions and time/space feel of the story.
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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)
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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