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A Purple Place for Dying (Travis McGee #3)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  3,842 Ratings  ·  179 Reviews
2 cassettes / 3 hours
Read by Darren McGavin
"My favorite novelist of all time"
-Dean Koontz
"To diggers a thousand years from now . . . the works of John D. MacDonald would be a treasure on the order of the tomb of Tutankhamen."
-Kurt Vonnegut
Travis McGee is summoned to Arizona by a rich, beautiful arrogant woman. And then she's dead - shot in the back at long range, lying cru
Audio Cassette, Abridged, 0 pages
Published April 12th 1999 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 1964)
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Greg Z Kenneth, I've sometimes thought that about other writers, but MacDonald ties up all the lose ends, so I think he solidly structures his novels before…moreKenneth, I've sometimes thought that about other writers, but MacDonald ties up all the lose ends, so I think he solidly structures his novels before he writes them.(less)
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John D. MacDonald is my latest crime/mystery reading 'crush'.

Once again I'm surprised/amazed at how good some writer turned out to be who for years I never thought anything of. In this MacDonald's case I actually didn't realize that him and Ross MacDonald weren't the same person (because I'm stupid, which has been proven on many occasions here by those with more smarts and less manners than I have). And I remember finding the one Lew Archer book I read as being boring in the same way I've felt
Cathy DuPont
Nov 10, 2011 Cathy DuPont rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Anthony Vacca
Don't read a Travis McGee mystery for its low opinion of the half of the world's population that aren't male, instead savor the crisp prose style that hasn't aged a day in over fifty years and delight in the precedent skeins of acerbic misanthropy. Plus there is embezzlement, blackmail, adultery and death by rock slide. A quick read as fine as a cerveza with your toes in the sand.
Dennis D.
Jul 14, 2009 Dennis D. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 03, 2008 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
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
Harv Griffin
Oct 10, 2012 Harv Griffin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, own
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
Aug 19, 2014 Jerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bobby Underwood
Sep 20, 2016 Bobby Underwood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ending made up for some uneven spots in this early Travis McGee outing. John D. MacDonald had a few of these written before he finally published (he felt they wouldn't sell) and you can tell he was finding his way in this one. The normal Florida setting (although a few of the good ones are set in Mexico) where McGee was so at home is missing here. After The Deep Blue Good-Bye, the author toyed with the next ones before realizing that the first was the pattern to follow. A Purple Place for Dy ...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).
Greg Z
Nov 15, 2016 Greg Z rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
McGee repeatedly tells his love interest that all she ever has to say is "No". So naturally, they wind up (and this isn't a spoiler of the main plot itself) on a secluded island for an idyllic love affair in paradise. But still, the plot's the thing, and it gets off to a roaring, and very surprising, start within just a few pages, followed by numerous twists and turns.
May 27, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 12, 2013 Mr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Benjamin Thomas
This is the third novel in the original Travis McGee trilogy, all of which were originally published in 1964. Once again McGee is lured out of Florida and his beloved houseboat, “The Busted Flush”. He travels to Arizona, I believe (it’s not specifically mentioned in the book) to consider accepting a job from a young lady who believes her older husband is plundering her trust fund set up for her by her wealthy father. At first, McGee doesn’t like the way the job is shaping up but soon after meeti ...more
Oct 07, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
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
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
Feb 03, 2016 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason MacDonald put Florida beach bum McGee somewhere out in the Arizona desert, trying to help a woman whose husband has apparently pilfered her sizable trust fund. Before he can even accept the case, she is shot dead by a sniper. Interesting set up, but the ensuing story meanders a bit, and it didn't provide a nifty plot twist like the previous novel. Not sure McGee's character was really developed much in this installment either. Of the first three novels, which I learned MacDonald ...more
Dec 21, 2015 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly excellent pulp detective mystery. It was a fun book to read, even though the spanking of an troublesome wife is accepted or sanctioned by male and female characters alike. I got over it and pretended it was 1964. (view spoiler) Great series so far.
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.
May 04, 2015 Zora rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 11, 2010 Audrey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns, noir, florida
"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
The third of the original Travis McGee troika, and I really think one needs to treat these first three books as a set. In this one there is virtually no back story, maybe a page total, reminders that he lives on a house boat, that he is a "salvage consultant" taking half of what he can get from what has been taken from his client, and at the end a call back to the hurts he suffered in the previous book. And that is it. Begins more in medias res than the first book, which had a setup first chapte ...more
Feb 15, 2013 Col rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, m
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
Lance Carney
Sep 26, 2013 Lance Carney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A purple place for dying in this case is Arizona where Travis McGee is lured by a wealthy woman to recover money stolen by her husband. A self-proclaimed salvage consultant, Travis McGee decides to travel to the Midwest since his money is running low. As the body count piles up, McGee feels he must unravel the mystery even though his hope of compensation dwindles.

I read all the Travis McGee series several years ago but did not read them in order. Now that I'm, ahem, more mature I decided to read
Nov 20, 2012 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
Jan 15, 2016 Art rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Purple Place for Dying by John D McDonald is book three in the Travis McGee series. Even though, these books are quite old and at times misogynistic because of the time period they were written in they are still very entertaining. The third installment even more so. McDonald does an excellent job of putting McGee in a believable tight spot from the get go that kick starts the narrative. It's funny how these books are so short but impactful that I'm not quite sure why they aren't more wildly re ...more
Stephen Osborne
Feb 07, 2016 Stephen Osborne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Travis McGee isn't a private eye. He's a "salvage expert." If you've lost money or someone has ripped you off, he'll get it back for you...and he gets half. He lives on his boat, the Busted Flush, and works only when he has to. He's a philosopher, a dreamer, and a social critic. And he's one of the greatest characters ever created.
McGee doesn't like his new prospective client, and he doesn't want to take her case as it doesn't sound like something for him, but then she's murdered right in front
Mar 01, 2012 Pete rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 09, 2014 Chuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Travis McGee is a hard-bitten sleuths! Tacky he might be, but its faith is uncertain~~~
I really enjoyed this series his plot was great, and so are the characters. Travis was sent to Arizona this time to solved a friend's friend trouble.

McGee was hired by Mona Yeoman to investigate her husband Jass Yeoman distrust of stealing her trust fund left by her father before he died. Out of a sudden Mona was murdered before McGee could even start poking around his assignment.
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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)

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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.” 4 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.” 2 likes
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