Oddmonster's Reviews > A Purple Place for Dying

A Purple Place for Dying by John D. MacDonald
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May 11, 10

bookshelves: noir, westerns, florida
Read in May, 2010

"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 stolen her inheritance. That's a problem for her because she's ready to run away with her schoolteacher lover, and that cash would be handy to have around. She explains all this to McGee while standing outside her remote cabin high in the desert, and then everything goes to hell.

There are a lot of very clever plot twists in this book, and one that makes no sense at all. But that last one's near the end, so I can forgive it quite a bit. But I'm hesitant to talk about the plot in specifics, because this is really a great read, and a stellar example of what I like to call "desert noirs"; noirs set in the dried-up and desolate desert towns most people speed past on their way to someplace else. Those towns are hotbeds for unhappiness, I swear.

A couple other notable things about the book:

--Jass Yeoman, the big terrible husband, is in fact big and terrible, but he's also cheerful and fun and interesting. He's a villain and a bully, but you can't help liking him all the same, and that's a hard thing to pull off, I always think, and something to be admired. I wouldn't mind a whole other Jass Yeoman book at all.

--This is the sequel to Nightmare in Pink, and almost feels like it was written by a completely different author. Where Pink was tightly wound and cruel and feral, this book is lazily violent and atmospheric, with only Travis himself connecting the two. Very interesting to watch that progression.

--Also, Travis mentions that he's coming off a "hard time" and kind of alludes to some PTSD symptoms, but it doesn't really connect up Pink to Purple, exactly but I do wonder if that was intentional.

--The casual sexism in the book didn't bother me. Does that make me a bad person? It just seemed authentic to time and place. Although you know, Travis only gets his leg over one woman, so he must still be feeling under the weather.

A solid entry in a great series. Next up: Must find the Quick Red Fox.
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