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The Deep Blue Good-By

(Travis McGee #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  13,892 ratings  ·  1,105 reviews
He's a self-described beach bum who won his houseboat in a card game. He's also a knight errant who's wary of credit cards, retirement benefits, political parties, mortgages, and television. He only works when his cash runs out and his rule is simple: he'll help you find whatever was taken from you, as long as he can keep half.
Paperback, Fawcett Crest 22383-3, 310 pages
Published May 31st 1995 by Ballantine Books (first published 1964)
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McGee Bale couldn't pull off McGee. DiCaprio certainly couldn't. Kind of glad the movie didn't get made with those guys. James Garner could have done it. Ji…moreBale couldn't pull off McGee. DiCaprio certainly couldn't. Kind of glad the movie didn't get made with those guys. James Garner could have done it. Jim Rockford was modeled after McGee in the first place. Robert Mitchum could have. A younger Sean Connery would have been ideal, if he could have done an American accent believably. No one working today would fit. (less)
James Love I don't believe there has ever been a movie made of The Deep Blue Goodby.

There was a 1970 movie version of Darker Than Amber starring Rod Taylor. http…more
I don't believe there has ever been a movie made of The Deep Blue Goodby.

There was a 1970 movie version of Darker Than Amber starring Rod Taylor.

There was a TV Movie of The Empty Copper Sea starring Sam Elliott in 1983.(less)

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Apr 09, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
This book should have been called To Catch a Rapist You Have to Think Like a Rapist. I'd always heard good things about John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series, so I decided I'd start at the beginning, and bought the first couple of books in the series. After reading The Deep Blue Good-by, however, I don't have much interest in reading any more. The main problem I had with this book is its protagonist. Travis McGee is a self-important asshole who overexplains his trite beach-bum "philosophy" any ...more
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of hard-boiled crime
Recommended to Lynda by: Cathy DuPont

I'm a huge fan of suspense fiction, absolutely loving the surprising and unexpected twists and turns. I've read (and re-read) a lot in this genre over the years, but John D MacDonald (JDM) had escaped me. I'm not sure why. I had heard of the movie "Cape Fear", which was adapted from JDM's book The Executioners, but for some reason I knew nothing of his pulp fiction series about Travis McGee.

One day I was having a conversation with my good friend and fellow GR member, Cathy DuPont, and she kept
Jul 02, 2008 rated it liked it
If you’ve been conned or robbed out of something by a shady character then Travis McGee will try to get it back for half the value of what was taken. And if you’re a woman he’ll more than likely bang you in the process. No extra charge.

Cathy Kerr is a single mom whose father had hidden something valuable he brought back from serving in the military overseas before being sent to prison. After he dies in jail a pyschopath named Junior Allen shows up and manages to locate and steal the goods. While
Joe Valdez
This is a novel that put John D. MacDonald (1916-1986) on my short list of favorite authors, between Elmore Leonard and Stephen King, even though I can just barely recommend it. Published in 1964, The Deep Blue Good-by is the debut of Travis McGee, "Salvage Consultant" in south Florida who over the course of twenty-one novels--titled with every color in the spectrum save for "black" or "white"-- recovers missing items. As plots go it's as routine as any airport paperback, but is wet with nautica ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
excellent start to a classic noir series. I really liked the main character and I hope I will manage to write a more indepth review soon.

Other people go down to the keys and bring back shell ashtrays or mounted fish or pottery flamingos. Travis McGee brings back a Lois Atkinson. The souvenir fervor is the mainstay of a tourist economy.

Could we call this genre 'sunny noir'? As in hard-boiled , private dick crime investigation set in laidback, luminous Florida. A state who has its ow
Dan Schwent
Mar 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Junior Allen has sleazed his way into a fortune in stolen gems and the daughters of the man who they belonged to want them back. Only Junior is a woman-beating rapist and has left a trail of battered women in his wake. Can Travis McGee get the gems back and take his cut?

This is the first John D. MacDonald book I've read and probably won't be the last. MacDonald really knows how to build the suspense. Junior Allen is a first degree douche bag and a good villain. You can't help but read faster and
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely wonderful. What a great start to a famous series! 5+ Stars.
After reading the entire series, this is one of my very favourite McGees.

I love the early 1960's Florida keys setting. MacDonald's flowing and spare descriptive prose is wonderful, almost like the words don't exist, as if MacDonald just places the images directly into your mind. Very Hemingway. Truly amazing.

As usual with my reviews, please first read the publisher’s blurb/summary of the book. Thank you.

Bonus. From the 1970
Cathy DuPont
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: who like the stong, thoughtful, sensitive guys
Shelves: re-reading
Third Time's a Charm
 photo 3974ff06-5225-416d-8e91-f16c41256f65_zps61906c48.jpg
Cathy's First Love, Still

For anyone considering reading the Travis McGee series (first book published in 1964 with a total of 21 books in the series) this book should definitely be read first. It lays the ground work for who McGee really is, how he feels about society, women and Florida in general. These are important basics for reading the series since the character for me, is so very important.

Reading the Long Blue Goodbye for me, was like seeing an old friend, no, I t
Jan Rice
John D. MacDonald does lists. For example, he's wary of

...plastic credit cards, payroll deductions, insurance programs, retirement benefits, savings accounts, Green Stamps, time clocks, newspapers, mortgages, sermons, miracle fabrics, deodorants, check lists, time payments, political parties, lending libraries, television, actresses, junior chambers of commerce, pageants, progress, and manifest destiny. (p. 14)

Again, creating a picture of rotting, materialistic excess:

...with a thumb in the Yell
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Pritchard is the reader & the audio quality was terrible on these old, second hand tapes, but I'm really glad I listened to it. While I've read a few of these books over the years, I've never read this, the first one. Originally, published in the mid 60's, the Travis McGee series was one of the staples of detective fiction for the next 10 or 15 years.

No, this really isn't a 4 star book, but it gets an extra one for being so popular & making such a wonderful break from the prudish 50's.
Anthony Vacca
While this book has a really striking style of first-person narration with plenty of wonderful misanthropy, the causal disgust for women is what we call "off-putting." Even if MacDonald's opinion mirrors McGee's low opinion of women and what they do with their bodies as compared to what men are welcome to do with their own, this book can be taken as a time capsule of socially accepted sexism/misogyny or you can go one step further and accept McGee as a sleazy protagonist with unsavory qualities, ...more
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
John D. MacDonald introduced the world to his libertarian and reclusive anti-hero Travis McGee in this excellent 1964 publication.

Already an established and successful writer, MacDonald was persuaded to create a franchise character, a recurring romantic hero to sell books. What he did was craft a personification for the world-weary angst of post-WWII riding shotgun on the tide of 60s alienation and disillusion.

Self-described as a beach bum who was “wary of credit cards, retirement benefits, poli
I would like to start off by saying that 2 stars means I felt this novel was okay. It was also the first Travis McGee novel that I have read. The Deep Blue Good-By was published in 1964 and reading it I felt it. McGee is a self-described "beach bum" who prefers to take on new cases only when the spare cash runs low. Unlike most novels in this genre he is neither a police officer nor a private investigator; instead, he is a self-described "salvage consultant" who recovers others' property for a f ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Let me start out by telling you some of what interests me about the author. MacDonald came from a well-off family and was on a business track with stints at several Eastern universities including Syracuse and the Wharton School at Penn and an M.B.A. from Harvard. Having achieved a solid business foundation he served in World War II and when he was mustered out he turned his back on the conventional business career and began to write. He was, eventually, a very successful author by any standard r ...more
John D.MacDonald writer of over 75 novels and 500 short stories has been widely viewed as having influenced numerous writers living today: Hiaasen, Vonnegut, White, Hall, Koontz (who considered MacDonald his "literary Guru"), and Stephen King, a very good friend of McDonald and to whom the MacDonald estate gave its only serious consideration to allowing another author to create a McGee sequel (for good reasons both financial and ethical, this did not happen). Many other authors have considered M ...more
Kathy Davie
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
First in the Travis McGee suspense series revolving around Travis, who only works when he needs the money. Based in Florida.

My Take
I found Lee Child's introduction in this edition edifying. I had no idea of MacDonald's background or how the war was likely to have influenced his writing. Child also tips us to MacDonald's environmental stance; it's subtle within the story, and I suspect I'd've missed it if I hadn't read the intro.

MacDonald's books ought to be part of a writer's education on how to
Aug 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
A man's got to do what a man's got to do

Even when that means believing women are nothing more than objects of his sliding scale of deserved affection and taking advantage of those too weak or too kind or too grateful to say no.

But then that's what everyone says about Travis McGee. What more can you say about the guy?

He's a man of strong moral principles, full of arrogance and conceit, a man who dislikes the America of the sixties yet happily takes advantage of it. He'll take a beating and keep o
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found my self an 18-20 year old in Germany from early 1964 until mid 1966 serving in the U.S. Army. In our barracks I had a double bunk mate from Oregon, a prolific reader of paperback fiction. The $70 monthly "perilous" duty pay I received didn't go very far if you frequented the local German eating & drinking establishments. There wasn't much for entertainment on base (we didn't have TV but we did have a movie about once a week) and by mid month my funds limited me to reading lots of my bunk ...more
Lewis Weinstein
I just began to re-read this series, and, how wonderful, I do not remember much from 15 or more years ago. This was, I think, the first of the Travis McGee stories, published in 1964, and it still reads well today, although the series got even better as it went on, especially after Meyer's appearance. Travis is a very flawed hero, but that is part of his appeal. He doesn't always succeed. Some of his attitudes toward women are reprehensible by today's standards, but he always tries to rise to hi ...more
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Deep Blue Good-By introduces Travis McGee, a “salvage consultant” based out of his houseboat, The Busted Flush - which he won in a poker game - in Ft. Lauderdale. (The Florida “landscape” in this series as close as something inanimate can come to being a character.) McGee “helps” people find what they’ve “lost” – usually just outside the boundaries of the law – and then splits the proceeds with his clients.

Travis is a big handsome lug, who likes the ladies – and they him; his cocktails, par
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The writing is actually a 3 or a 4, but the attitudes toward women in this book are extremely condescending in a subversive way, and brought the rating down.

MacDonald can write a potboiler mystery. He's got fist fights, boats, cars, and shady characters. And women, but I'll get to them. A "fixer" main character who will get what you want as long as he gets half. A main character given to superior, worldly musings on the sad state of the world, that make you feel superior and worldly as you read
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2014, american, crime
“I am wary of the whole dreary deadening structured mess we have built into such a glittering top-heavy structure that there is nothing left to see but the glitter, and the brute routines of maintaining it.”
― John D. MacDonald, The Deep Blue Good-By


Moments of brilliance mixed with standard, hard-boiled detective fair. This wasn't my first John D. MacDonald, or even my first Travis McGee, but it is the first book in the series. Technically, I think he published the first three novels in three m
Benoit Lelièvre
There's a lot of mid-century detective fiction out there for those who like the genre as much as I do and most of it is equivalent to one another. If you have to only read one though: read John D. MacDonald. Heaven almighty that guy is good. THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY was my first experience with his writing and it enraptured me so hard that I almost requested a sabbatical at work to order and read his entire catalog.

THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY is a crazy good psychological foray into the world of domestic
Travis Magee is a rough, retired, military man with a big heart who lives on "The Busted Flush", a houseboat he aquired in a poker game. When he runs short on funds he takes on the occational investigative, recovery job for the fee of half of whatever he recovers. In this first addition Travis try's to help a young girl find her sadistic ex-boyfriend who stole a fortune that had been buried on the families property for years.

I enjoy this series because it returns us to the simpler days before th
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I read my first Travis McGee title, Girl in the Plain-Brown Wrapper, probably 50 years ago. This one is the first book in JDM's celebrated and popular series. The plot moves right along, and the action sequences are nicely paced. JDM's prose is superb, as it usually is. Some of the later Travis McGee books feature him moralizing and philosophizing, which I think date the books. I'm more interested in reading about the characters and plots. Anyway, JDM keeps it at a minimum in this novel. Maybe I ...more
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ooops. Forgot to write a review. Very good opening for the Travis McGee series. I found myself liking Trav a lot better on the ground floor. Little things that have annoyed in the three or four books that I have read out of sequence, such as McGee's fixation on himself and how he looks, his way with various disposable "bunnies," and his constant philosophizing, seemed softer, not as packaged. He has his flaws, and he seems aware of them. But he's a good guy. Maybe he won me over as he looked out ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
What I like about genre fiction is that very often, a genre novel or story is what it sets out to be - a mystery story, a space opera, a dragon-slaying yarn - and that's often quite enough if done honestly and with imagination, but they can often be all that and something else as well. Take this novel, for instance, a tale of a cool, drifter-type private eye making his way through the endless parties and permissiveness of Florida in the 60s. It's a pretty good private-eye tale, as far as that go ...more
“Deep Blue Good-By” (1964) is the first novel in the 21-gun series of Travis McGee novels by John D. McDonald. It is one of the best of the entire series. McGee is a beach bum who lives on a houseboat (“The Busted Flush” – named after the poker game in which he won the boat) in Ft. Lauderdale and eschews nine-to-five jobs, payroll taxes, and Madison Avenue. He makes his living doing “salvage work,” that is, he goes out and gets things have been taken from people and takes a fifty percent cut of ...more
I’ve never read a John D. MacDonald book before and I’ve read a lot of good things about his Travis McGee novels, so I thought I might start at the beginning for this series. This is the first in what is now a 21 book series and the first time we meet Travis McGee, a self-described "salvage consultant", almost like a treasure hunter but instead he recovers the property of his clients for a fee; half. He is hired and has to go up against the pathologically evil antagonist Junior Allen, who may se ...more
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this book more than five stars, I would. I'm now asking myself how I could have left Mr. MacDonald untouched for so long. Not only does he tell a great story, he's a wordsmith of the highest caliber with muscular prose and breathtakingly poetic imagery that bears reading aloud. He engages not only the intellect, but the emotions on every page. Can't wait to read more of his work...and grateful that an entire opus awaits me. ...more
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Crime, Mysteries ...: Deep Blue Good-By, The - February 2015 12 81 Feb 27, 2015 04:37PM  
Travis McGee 10 72 Jan 18, 2015 07:33AM  
Pulp Fiction: February 2014 - The Deep Blue Good-By 11 68 Mar 15, 2014 11:00PM  
The Backlot Gay B...: The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald 2 15 Oct 20, 2013 09:24AM  
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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. He served in the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations. A ...more

Other books in the series

Travis McGee (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • 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)
  • Dress Her in Indigo (Travis McGee #11)

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“I am wary of the whole dreary deadening structured mess that we have built into such a glittering top-heavy structure that there is nothing left to see but the glitter, and the brute routines of maintaining it.” 25 likes
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