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Girl In The Plain Brown Wrapper (Travis McGee #10)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,003 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
While making good his promise to prevent a young girl from committing suicide, Travis McGee encounters an entirely new string of problems of his own. Attempting to salvage someone else's troubled life, McGee soon finds it is enough just to keep his own neck out of the noose! As with all of John D. MacDonald's books, THE GIRL IN THE PLAIN BROWN WRAPPER is filled with the sp ...more
Mass Market Paperback, Fawcett Gold Medal 13341-9, 256 pages
Published 1982 by Ballantine Books (first published December 1st 1968)
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If you were a rich widow who was dying from cancer and one of your two daughters, who had been stable and happily married for years, suddenly and mysteriously went bat shit crazy including memory loss and suicide attempts, would you:

A) Pour all your money and remaining time into medical and psychological doctors to try and help while also setting up a safe and protected environment for her?

B) Contact a shady stranger who you had a romantic fling with after your husband died and beg him to help h
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
"That's because we always want to know why. Not so much how and who and when. But why."
- John D. MacDonald, the Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper


One of the better MacDonald novels I've read this year. He appears to be unable to escape the bizarrely sexualized, woman-in-peril, sex kitten cliché, BUT for a book that came just 15 years after Playboy and James Bond made their entrance into the Western consciousness, turning women into bunnies and well-oiled sex kittens, some roughness can be forgiven
James Thane
As the tenth book in John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series opens, McGee is once again called upon to restore a grieving widow to psychological and sexual health. The grateful woman, Helena Pearson, returns to her normal life, but several years later, she is dying of cancer and calls upon McGee for one last favor. Helena's daughter, Maurie, has become mysteriously suicidal and Helena would like McGee to diagnose the problem and find a solution.

McGee dutifully journeys to Fort Courtney, Florida,
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: who-done-it
It’s been a long, long time since I last read a Travis McGee novel. After a few dated cultural references, I checked the publishing date about a quarter of the way into the book – 1968. References to the Pill (Macdonald’s caps, not mine), Walter Cronkite (kids, he was a network news anchor, back when that meant anything), and an antiquated take on sex and race stood out.

He doesn’t treat women “badly”, it’s just that he comes across as Travis, amateur sex therapist, the guy with the answer to eve
Jean Poulos
Travis McGee receives a letter from a woman he had a brief romance with years ago; she is dying and asks McGee to help her daughter, Maureen. McGee learns the woman died before he got the letter. McGee travels to Maureen and he ends up in a murder investigation of one of Maureen’s physicians. Maureen has gone bonkers. So, does the death have something to do with her condition?

MacDonald is a master story teller and that comes through in this story. He was one of the top pulp writers of the 1950 a
Harv Griffin
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, own
pic of my copy of WRAPPED GIRL

© 1968 for the Wrapped Girl – So be forewarned, Ladies, Travis McGee is not politically correct, judged by 2012 standards. The best rendition of the I HATE TRAVIS McGEE point-of-view may be Amanda’s one star GoodReads review:

The gals have their Loveswept, Silhouette & Harlequin tubes-through-the-roof romance novels—the guys have our Phillip Marlowe, Travis McGee & Jack Reacher balls-to-the-wall action novels.

BROWN WRAPPER is half way into the Trav
Jeff Jackson
Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jeff by: David Bowman's Noir List on Salon
David Bowman published an intriguing list of post-Chandler noir novels on Salon a few years back. This was one of his five picks. Bowman sez: "MacDonald, the last literate and unself-conscious pulp writer, was the first to explore the noir possibilities of Florida. All the titles in his Travis McGee series are precious junk. In this one — part John Updike, part “Jane Eyre” — the lethal Florida beach bum/sexual healer attempts to rescue a housewife held captive in suburbia by her hubby’s mind-con ...more
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Travis McGee had a wonderful, spur of the moment, love with Helena after her husband tragically died. He was much younger than her and she wasn't looking for a new husband, just a good time. Which Travis was able to give her on his boat while taking her traveling. When she left after that summer of love, they kept in contact through mail, but never saw one another again. When Travis gets a letter from Helena telling him how she is terminally ill and how her eldest daughter is in a bad mental sta ...more
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper is the tenth out of twenty-one Travis McGee novels. Although sometimes categorized as a mystery series, the McGee series may borrow some ideas from mysteries, but it is a series about as far from the standard PI genre as can be. McGee is not a PI. He’s a salvage consultant. When someone loses something of value and the normal lawful means of getting it back are not sufficient, he figures out how to outfox the conmen and nets a fifty percent profit of the haul. He ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A letter from an old friend takes salvage expert Travis McGee by surprise. He hasn’t seen Helena Pearson in five years, and since she recently died from cancer, the letter brings back a lot of poignant memories. In the letter, Helena asks Travis to see if he can determine what’s causing her eldest daughter, Maureen, to repeatedly attempt suicide. To honor her memory, McGee pays Maureen a visit, although he doesn’t really know how he can help. Unfortunately, McGee gets more than he bargained for ...more
Emilie Richards
My husband got this from a Florida bookseller who knew he loved Randy Wayne White. I read it for fun this summer. Also a White fan, I knew I wouldn't be getting the same kind of read even if I was getting another dose of real Florida.

The era was different, but I'd really forgotten HOW different. Travis McGee's a great guy, but this was a lot like reading a pared-down, slightly more thoughtful James Bond. Travis was in and out of bed with three women in the story with several other "encounters"
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this one better than some of the others because it's more of a whodunit. Usually McGee goes into these jobs knowing exactly who the bad guy is. This time he had to figure it out. He also manages to rustle up some sympathy for people of color. Not too bad for 1964.
Very Sam Spade. This is a classic “hardboiled” detective story published in 1968. One would never know it was 1968 except for the fact no one mentions a cell phone and there is zero talk of DNA. But then again, there is the audio cassette recorder the cops use, the lovely gold carpeting and one “swinging band”. Race relations are certainly different. Travis McGee, the unofficial detective, is extremely descriptive throughout the novel as he tells the story. (Especially his description of one dea ...more
THE GIRL IN THE PLAIN BROWN WRAPPER. (1968). John D. MacDonald. ***.
Hold on to your hats and seat. MacDonald usually manages to hold his McGee adventures to about 300 pages – at least in the paperback series that I’ve been reading. In this tale, you reach about page 280 and realize that he has to wrap the case up. He does, in a whirlwind way using several of the hokiest techniques that have been developed by writers: A dictated summary of the case into a tape recorder; the use of a totally new c
Mackenzie Brown
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Number ten in the series, this story finds McGee on an errand of mercy for an old lover who has lost her battle with cancer. He arrives in the apparent sleepy Florida Town of Fort Courtney, but all is not quite what it seems. There is something about the place that is a little off kilter, but by the time our sun bleached hero pieces together a jigsaw of murder and larceny, it is almost too late......

A skilfull, well plotted crime thriller with everything you want from the genre, from the hands o
Cathy DuPont
Nov 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cathy by: A sailor
Unfortunately, this was a weak book in the series.

This isn't a four star, (most TM series are) it's clearly a three. Weak storyline is why it get three stars from me.

My last read (#2) I gave it a four. I think age is making me a tougher critic! OMG, Katy bar the door!
Zero Spoilers alert: I barely touch on the plot in this review.

Even if MacDonald’s philosophizing and ruminating on race and gender weren’t so horrifically antiquated and racist and sexist, he’s so much better at terse noir gems like, ‘Her stare was wise, timeless, sardonic.’ and ‘She laughed, a rich raw little sound, full of derision.’ - that it begs the question of why bother with the former?

I get the idea of attempting to give your crime writing texture and depth by speaking about broader
Oct 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, adventure
MacDonald tends to focus on what is wrong with the world--the sordid underpinings of the supposdedly civil world, and how people use and manipulate each other. And many of the early books--definitely the ones through the 1960s and early 1970s included a lot of drug experimentation. The other thing I like about MacDonald is that not all his mysteries were murder mysteries, but often things dealing in monetary fraud, and the murders happen along the way as he's hunting lost and stolen money.

He le
Mar 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Reading John D. MacDonald has the same sort of queasy charm as watching Mad Men. It's a period piece - kind of like a Victorian novel only shorter and with way more sex. Sexist, sexist sex. This one brushes on the surface of, of all things, race relations too. Turns out that shapely legs, when brown, are still shapely. Go figure! Things have changed since I was a small child and when I reread these books, I have to say, they've changed for the better. Still, though, for all that the undertones m ...more
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion, this is one of the best novels in the series. Although, the Travis McGee novels have a reputation for being testosterone driven, they are much more than this. The author has a unique world view that defies categorization. McGee might be a serial monogamist but he always treats women with respect - and perhaps a little fear.
MacDonald builds strong, diverse women.

Above all, John D. MacDonald is an excellent writer and a wonderful storyteller. Per Stephen King, MacDonald was the gre
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Detective novel enthusiasts, noir fans willing to try something a little more modern
Recommended to Rob by: Some guy on a plane
I was pleasantly surprised by this one, which I wasn't really enjoying after the first chapter or two. I'm a big fan of noir detective novels (Chandler and Hammet), and usually feel let down by anything that was written and/or takes place in the past 50 years. It took a few chapters for me to realize it, but this one was pretty intelligent, well-written, and engaging. I'll have to check out some more MacDonald (not to be confused with Ross McDonald, of Chandler's era and genre).
Jun 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best part of this book was MacDonald describing a character thus:

"...might have been too handsome without a certain irregularity about his features, a suggestion of a cowlicky, lumpy, aw shucks, early-Jimmy-Stewart flavor."

Of course, finding out the reason that description is so apt would necessitate reading the book, which you can pretty much take or leave.
May 16, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, owned
This 10th entry in the McGee series was fast-paced, a good suspense story. Even so, it only gets 3* as it didn't have the caustic wit MacDonald sometimes displays when commenting on social conditions. McGee seemed a bit off his game - maybe the absence of Meyer was the cause.
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I'm pretty sure I read this, but it barely left an impression -- something about an unambitious PI with a pre-modern approach to gender relations.
Oct 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good one.
Jeff Yoak
A rather average McGee novel.
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: macdonald
28 may 15, #41 from macdonald for me, the 8th travis mcgee story, and this is #10 in the series...i'll get to the stories i've missed in sequence when i can. oh la. just finished The Quick Red Fox

31 may 15
finished. a good story but not a great story. have not compiled my index below, but i suspect the list of minor folk will be comparatively shorter than macdonald's 'great' stories. this one took some time to "get" into it...there is that seemingly unrelated to the narrative beginning. joe and b
Henri Moreaux
The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper is another strong entry in the McGee series. This time around McGee receives a letter from a woman whose died and she requests him to look into whats wrong with her daughter whose attempted suicide twice and see if he can help her somehow. Shortly after his arrival in Fort County Florida two people try to drug and search him and a chain of deaths soon follow.

Well paced with a good plot line although there are a few dated references throughout the novel which s
Michael Fredette
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the tenth Travis McGee novel, McGee receives a letter from a recently deceased former lover, for whom he'd previously done shipwreck salvage work, summoning him to Ft. Courtney, Fla. to look after her suicidal daughter. Initially, McGee thinks there isn't much he can do, but after a brief stay, in which his hotel is burgled, makes him decide to stay and probe deeper.
Andrew Crawshaw
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked this book. There were slightly too many characters for me to keep track of, I am a "read to get to sleep" reader. The wrtapup at the end was a little bit of a stretch, but good all the same. Interesting to read a detective type book set in times without hi-tech wizardry such as cell phones and computers.
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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)
  • Dress Her in Indigo (Travis McGee #11)

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