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Bright Orange for the Shroud

(Travis McGee #6)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,443 ratings  ·  176 reviews
Travis McGee is looking forward to a "slob summer," spending his days as far away from danger as possible. But trouble has a way of finding him, no matter where he hides. An old friend, conned out of his life savings by his ex-wife, has tracked him down and is desperate for help. To get the money back and earn his usual fee, McGee will have to penetrate the Everglades -- a ...more
Mass Market Paperback, Fawcett Crest, 321 pages
Published February 28th 1996 by Random House (first published January 1st 1965)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  3,443 ratings  ·  176 reviews

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Bobby Underwood
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"A tall, frail, sallow-looking fellow in a wrinkled tan suit too large for him stared up at me with an anxious little smile that came and went—a mendicant smile, like dogs wear in the countries where they kick dogs."

The man McGee is talking about is Arthur Wilkinson, or rather the shell that’s left after becoming entangled with Wilma Ferners in Bright Orange for the Shroud. Though it is Boone “Boo” Waxwell who understandably gets mentioned most whenever this entry in the legendary Travis McGee s
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: who-done-it
Splice the main brace aft and toe the keel line as the crow flies and the bilge pumps.

I have no idea what that means but I’m sure John D. MacDonald does. He loves his nautical terms and uses them liberally throughout this novel. You see, Travis McGee, salvage and recovery expert, lives aboard a house boat and as his need arises, sails the boat to get where he needs to go. In this case, it’s to help an acquaintance who’s been beaten and sucked dry by a group of con artists.

I’ve recently read a
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A terrific McGee adventure, 5-stars. Must read.

Beautiful prose throughout, flowing descriptions of people and places, super action sequences with real peril, and truly incredible descriptions of Florida and the Everglades.

The ending is superb. Just as good as The Deep Blue Good-by, perhaps even better.

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

The Alabama Tiger's Flush Deck Wheeler Yacht

Full size image here

Great fist fight scene betwee
Benjamin Thomas
The sixth book in the Travis McGee series involves Travis once again helping an old friend, this time to recover a quarter million dollars that has been taken from him as well as the man’s dignity. Just when McGee is planning on having himself a “slob summer” meaning lots of partying and over-indulgence, his old friend Arthur Wilkinson visits him on board his houseboat, the “Busted Flush”. Arthur is so skinny and feeble-looking that McGee hardly recognizes him but he, somewhat reluctantly, agree ...more
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, american, crime, fiction
"the most dangerous animal in the world is not the professional killer. It is the amateur."
- John D. MacDonald, Bright Orange for the Shroud


This is the first Travis Mcee novel I've read where I didnt' feel the need to reserve a star because his writing about women & sex was so aweful. Just to be clear, the writing about women still left something to be desired. Every Travis McGee novel makes me imagine Burt Reynolds spanking some bikini wearing eye candy in some movie about cars, boats, or hors
Jul 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery, mcgee
When I first read the Travis McGee books during my high school years in the ‘80s, I thought they were pretty bad-ass crime stories, but that the early ones from the ‘60s were a little dated. Re-reading the McGee books now makes me realize that they are VERY dated in a lot of ways, but that MacDonald was way ahead of the curve on some issues. And they’re still bad-ass crime stories.

McGee is a self-described boat bum in Fort Lauderdale with a unique racket. Calling himself a salvage consultant, he
Cathy DuPont
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves a great story
My third read of the Travis McGee series and I'm paying particular attention to how Travis relates to women.

My interest is due to a nice conversation I had a few months ago as to whether Travis treated women well, took advantage of them and/or was a misogynist. Hey, or anything in between.

Bright Orange... was a non-stop read from beginning to end and in my mind, the touchstone of the entire series. The quintessential Travis McGee with all the elements found in the best of the series.

The only
Charles Adkinson
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My favorite McGee so far. Snappy, fast-paced, and maddening setup that had me itching for him to get after this particular "salvage project," and once he did, there was just a certain economy to the plotting that kept this one perfectly paced throughout.

There's always a moment, after McGee's begun digging around and located a few of the dishonest parties, when he suddenly becomes known and gets onto the radar of the most dangerous person in that particular book. It's always slightly horrifying,
Maggie K
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, stored
This is my favorite Travis McGee so far...and after all the talk of whether McGee is a Mysogonist or not (I am in the camp that believes he is not), I have to wonder if it is because McGee sees no female action in this edition?
Whatever the reason I found this a page-turner and devoured it in short time.
McGee is trying to not do any work after being so injured on the last job. But an old friend shows up looking like death warmed over, and McGee is sucked into helping him recover both his money an
Carla Remy
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Finally, in the sixth book of the series, I get my wish: Travis McGee sleeps with no women (After some space, I'll appreciate it more when he does connect with a lady). And he has a female friend who helps him: Chook McCall, who appeared in the first book. Further proof that Travis is not sexist. This was good, and interesting, but it got dark near the end, with violence and some very disturbing rape.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
A great Travis McGee story, with MacDonald's amazingly vivid prose on full display. I also found this more chilling than the average McGee, with a truly sadistic anatoganist. However, some of the old fashioned attitudes, particularly towards women, as well as behavioral and psychological underpinnings make this feel more dated than other McGee stories I've read and somewhat detracted from my enjoyment.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
At the end of this sixth entry, McGee turns away a woman who shows up, with luggage, at his boat. McGee then turns to his boat for, as MacDonald tells us, "solace". MacDonald goes on to write, " I [McGee] went below, slapped a wrench on a nut, put my back into it...". And earlier, McGee says, "I felt as if each grunt of effort was tearing the innermost lining of my throat." I'd not noticed these kinds of insinuations previously but I found them surprisingly offbeat and funny. Another reviewer he ...more
Bright Orange for the Shroud is the 6th book in the Travis McGee mystery series by John D. MacDonald. It surprised me to realize that it's been 4 years since I last delved into McGee's world.
McGee is a beach bum who lives on his houseboat in Florida and to make ends meet takes cases to help people in need. In this story he is planning to take the summer off, having earned enough money from previous cases, that he can take the boat and just relax and vegetate for the summer. His plans are upset b
Kicks into high gear about a third of the way in once McGee actually starts investigating, and for the last half of the book I was locked into page-turning mode. The long ending sequence was riveting, even if it has a lot of similarities to the ending of the first book in the series (The Deep Blue Good-by). For first time readers it probably doesn't play this way, but for me (having read all of these McGee books at least a few time over the years) the beginning was way too slow. The first chapte ...more
Jul 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Maybe 3.5 stars. As I am beginning to expect with this series, this isn't really a mystery. Travis McGee is a 1960s version of the gang in the TV show "Leverage", only he works mostly alone and without all the cool gadgets. In this entry of the series, McGee doesn't get a romantic interest but that is OK as it is taken up by the client and a dancer friend of McGee's.

If you like suspense/thrillers and don't mind a high body count, this McGee novel might appeal. It was less dated than some of the
Terry Graap
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another excellent book in the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald. He helps some friends recover some money from a ruthless man who shoots McGee at the end in the head and almost kills him. I don't see how McGee walks away from this one.
Sep 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Never thought I'd read a Travis McGee book where Travis McGee didn't get any ass. But there it is.
Jeff Yoak
This is my favorite thus-far in my historically ordered re-reading of the McGee novels. It is the first that was just wonderful beginning to end.

An old casual friend of McGee shows up half dead. He's been badly treated, having been taken in by the long con. He's been abused and made broke. McGee is cajoled into taking the case with his standard deal -- Something has been taken from you and there is no legal way to get it back. He risks expenses which come off the top of any recovery and the bala
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Travis McGee series fans
Recommended to Ed by: Fan of the series
This title is a real winner in the Travis McGee mystery series. One of the things I like is Travis kept his curmudgeonly moralizing to a minimum. The story takes several unexpected twists, and Travis gets tough when he needs to get he and his friends out of a tense jam. I'll look forward to reading my next Travis McGee.
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
John MacDonald wrote twenty-one Travis McGee novels before he died unexpectedly in 1986. I am working my way through far, have read 10. This one, the "Orange" book, is one of the best. It moves along well, never once making me wish he would get on with it. These stories were written between 1964 and 1985, so they will seem dated to most....the days before computers, cell phones, internet... the dark ages to younger readers. But the plots and the people can still be current today. True, ...more
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good diversion when I needed one.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting plot, and a nice build-up to the climatic scenes. When Arthur, a casual acquaintance of McGee, is swindled out of his fortune by an unscrupulous wife and a small group of real estate scam artists and then beaten senseless by one of them, McGee goes on a "salvage and recovery" operation to reclaim the money. Meanwhile, Chookie, McGee's dancer/lady friend, nurses Arthur back to health and a relationship blossoms. I expected a plot where McGee turns the tables on the whole group of con ...more
Rugged and sentimental, fearless and flawed, he was everything a connoisseur of private-eye capers could want. His job was salvage and demolition, and whenever the right job comes along he bids in it, rent the equipment, subcontract everything. He comes with a low project percentage that's big enough to live well until the next chances opens up..........and that's how 'Travis McGee' lives his life.

McGee was trying to help an old friend Arthur Wilkinson who was defraud out of his half-million mon
Ph. D.
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
To anyone who has not read a Travis McGee yarn: Get a John D. MacDonald book with a color in the title. Prowl the aisles at a used book store -- the older and rattier volume you can snag, the better. Get to Florida (at least in your mind). Pop open a Dos Equis and prepare to be entertained by the one of the most endearing -- and enduring -- fictional characters of our time. Just one thing -- heed the advice of Carl Hiassen and resist the temptation to stop by the Bahia Mar Yacht Basin in Ft. Lau ...more
Dec 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir-pulp
McDonald's sixth Travis McGee, the semi-retired salvage consultant is probably more of a three and half star read for me. But, even when it's not his best story I've read *I've read the first five* his tales from the 60's and his style, with it's atomsphere are still an entertaining read.
And, to hear him tell of his feelings of Florida in decline,over-building almost fifty years ago, puts a smile on your face. Wondering what he would think today.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: have
My favorite McGee since the Deep Blue Goodbye. The series remains a bit dated but I'm able to place myself into the period of writing easy enough. I don't know why I always picture Chevy Chase as Fletch when McGee is doing his "in disguise" business. The crime and recover efforts were fun and believable enough. Top notch villains (not fun). A very enjoyable McGee entry.
Nathan Webber
Nov 18, 2007 rated it liked it
At the moment John D. MacDonald is my literary palate cleanser. I think every serious reader should have one.
Meredith VanOordt
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love the Travis McGee series. reread them ever so often.
Very interesting writing style. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, though it deals with some tough subjects, especially (view spoiler). ...more
Henri Moreaux
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've been reading through the Travis McGee series this month with Bright Orange for the Shroud being the 6th in the series. It's one of the better books in the series with 4 & 5 also being very good.

This time around McGee is looking into a fraudulent scam that conned a rich retiree out of their life savings. Plenty of action and quite the thrill ride, whilst not as complex as A Deadly Shade of Gold it was still good.
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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)
  • 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)
  • 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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