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Dress Her in Indigo

(Travis McGee #11)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,150 ratings  ·  115 reviews
"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, Jr.

A wealthy old man laid up in the hospital is desperate to understand the last months of his daughter's life before she was killed in a car crash in Mexico. It was puzzling. She'd cleaned out her considerable bank account, lef
Paperback, 301 pages
Published March 9th 1996 by Fawcett (first published January 1st 1969)
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,150 ratings  ·  115 reviews

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Bobby Underwood
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“I envy the generation of readers just discovering Travis McGee and count myself among the many readers savoring his adventures again.” — Sue Grafton (1940-2017)

Perhaps more than any other book within the Travis McGee series, Dress Her in Indigo holds up a mirror to elements in society that were not nearly so pleasant as those wearing rose-colored, politically correct glasses want us to believe. This is most definitely not a Seattle coffee shop approved version of the hippie movement. It is a br
Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
”The dregs of dreams were all of childhood, and in the morning mirror I looked at the raw, gaunt, knobbly stranger, at the weals and the pits and the white tracks of scar tissue across the deepwater brown of the leathery useful body and marveled that childhood should turn into this--into the pale-eyed, scruff-headed, bony stranger who looked so lazily competent, yet, on the inside, felt such frequent waves of Weltschmerz, of lingering nostalgia for the lives he had never lived.”

Travis McGee and
James Thane
His eleventh adventure finds Travis McGee away from his familiar stomping grounds in Florida. A lot of bad luck has fallen upon the family of T. Harlan Bowie. His wife, Liz, has died suddenly and hideously from a brain tumor. Bowie himself is left paralyzed by an automobile accident, and then the gods decide to smack him around a little more by killing his only child, a daughter named Bix, in an auto accident in Mexico. Bowie is heart-broken and guilt-ridden because as a hard-charging businessma ...more
Eleven books into my rereading of the Travis McGee series and as usual there’s a Good and Bad side to it.

Good = Travis McGee continues to be an interesting character who has rejected the responsibilities associated with a modern American life circa 1969 by working as a kind of hybrid detective/con man who gets involved in shady dealings to make a buck. On the surface McGee is just a lazy boat bum on a series of extended vacations, and he’s willing to occasionally risk his life to finance this li
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Better than 5-stars. Truly wonderful.

This book and his first, The Deep Blue Good-By, are my favourites.

The pacing is terrific as McGee and Meyer track down the mystery of the last days of a young lady and her friends in on vacation in Oaxaca, Mexico. MacDonald paints a terrible and poignant tragedy of the undeserving young, and with a sad, surprise ending.

Each book now surpasses the previous. MacDonald is extraordinary. There is astounding prose in this book, verging often on literary poetry. W
"What a limited man believes is his emotional reality is indeed his emotional reality."
- John D. MacDonald, Dress Her in Indigo


This is an interesting story and it turns REALLY dark about 2/3 into it. Set mainly in Oaxaca, Mexico, it contains some of MacDonald's best descriptions. While MacDonald is skilled at describing the waters of Florida, there is only so many different ways you can describe sand, water, sunsets and islands. MacDonald goes all out on his trip to Mexico. And it is obvious tha
Lewis Weinstein
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
I decided to re-read the Travis McGee series and picked this one off the top of the pile. Bad choice. I remembered too late from my earlier readings how much less I liked the stories that took place away from FL and the Busted Flush. Indigo takes place in Mexico, and it is an ugly, drug-filled story with almost no redeeming characters or narrative. I felt like I needed a bath after each chapter. I still have 20+ books to go and I'm sure I will fully enjoy most of them.
Instead of his usual haunts in the Florida marinas and the Gulf Coast swamps, “Dress Her In Indigo” takes Travis McGee on an adventure into the heart of Mexico. A rich man has been widowed and his only daughter disappeared into Mexico for months only to come back in a box. He wants to know what happened to her. McGee and a buddy (Meyer) head down to Oxaca to investigate, to ask questions, to find out what Bix’s last months were all about. Was she happy and just had a tragic accident or did somet ...more
Jeff Yoak
Meyers and McGee travel to Mexico on behalf of a father who lost his daughter there. The girl had gone down, fallen in with a bad crowd, became addicted to drugs and died mysteriously. The father wanted to know what life had been like for his daughter.

I've decided to take a break in re-reading the McGee series, but this was an excellent one to stop on. It was a great story. It has the wonderful balance of characters, poetic description and adventure I love in the McGee stories. It also has one o
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
DRESS HER IN INDIGO. (1969). John D. MacDonald. ****.
A Friend of Meyer’s asks him to do a favor. Meyer’s friend is currently hospitalized with severe injuries as a result of an automobile. His life is in shambles: his wife died a few years earlier, and his only daughter walked out of his life, only to have died in an accident in Mexico. His business career had been highly successful, so money was no object, but he realized as he lay there in bed that he didn’t know his daughter. He wanted Meyer
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Number 11 in the series, from 1969, and this one's a bit off formula: McGee isn't out to recover money or goods, but rather a life story or perhaps a reputation. McGee and Meyer spend most of the book in Oaxaca, trying to find out what really happened to a wealthy businessman's hippy daughter. As always, the story pulls you along with a fair amount of narrative complexity for a thriller of its time; there is the usual "dated" social commentary (here on the counterculture), which I quite enjoy; a ...more
Terry Graap
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another excellent book in the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald. McGee and his friend Meyer assists a friend who lost his daughter in Mexico in an automobile accident. The friend wants to find out what was her life in Mexico. A surprise twist at the end.
BOOK 166 - Mid-20th Century North American Crime Readathon - Round 7
My "readathon' time frame was to be the roaring 1920's through the Summer of Love (give or take a few years), and this 1969 stupendously stamped-in-time work absolutely cap-ends the period, but in a very bad way. This is so dated, and so ugly that it's hard to believe MacDonald wrote it: never has he/Travis been so sexist, so xenophobic, so homophobic and completely unbelievable. Both Travis (in Mexico, out of his element) and M
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
A young woman named Beatrice Bowie (Bix) dies in an automobile crash on a lonely mountain road in Mexico. The father wants to know more about the time she spent in Mexico and who she was. He has lost his wife, is now confined to a wheelchair and since he spent more time with business than with his daughter, he wants to discover who his daughter really was. Travis McGee and Fred Meyer are hired to travel to Mexico to find the answers. The trip finds them chasing down any clue they can find. Bix h ...more
JoAnna Spring
Mar 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travis-mcgee, fiction
Much better than the last McGee. Trav and Meyer travel to Mexico to investigate the death of a friend's daughter. (I suspect she is actually still alive...!!)

I believe this is why I love Mr. McGee so much:

"Old friend, there are people - young and old - that I like, and people that I do not like. The former are always in short supply. I am turned off by humorless fanaticism, whether it's revolutionary mumbo-jumbo by a young one, or loud lessons from the scripture by an old one. We are all comical
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'm not entirely certain that this is the author or really distateful book I remember. The author's Celtic surname and a protagonist who takes a big trip overseas every time life goes tits-up seem right. What I remember most about the Travis McGee's character in Mexico was the cold, grim depiction of murders and mentally incapacitated loose women. It had enough compartmentalized moralizing to be Scots-Irish sermon typing, but was the moralizing more about the author's WW II background?
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
McGee investigating events that culminated in a young woman's death in Mexico. Written in 1969 and an outsider's look at youth (hippies), drop-outs and drugs. A bit dated but still a suspenseful read. It could have easily taken place in California, considering this was written around the time of the Manson murders, but I'm thinking MacDonald used the novel as an opportunity to visit Mexico instead. A book of its time and interesting for that.
Oct 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Chop out about two-thirds of it, and you have the base for a rotten story.
Jerry B
Jun 21, 2018 rated it liked it
We often peck off one of our still unread Travis McGee tales while on vacation, expecting basically a pleasant enough diversion from maybe our regular diet of murder mystery/thrillers. McGee is a middle-aged playboy who normally lives on a houseboat in Florida, and works occasionally as a “reclamation” expert, earning his keep via money or goods salvaged as he corrects wrongs committed upon some innocent victim. He has a somewhat more intellectual friend Meyer who accompanies him on many of thes ...more
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it
In this mystery/adventure, McGee is hired by a wealthy and ailing man to uncover the details of his daughter's demise. The daughter, a free spirit who fled to Mexico with some friends to live a bohemian, unfettered life, was apparently killed in an auto accident. The father wants the details of her last days. The good news for us is that McGee brings Meyer along with him, since the bereaved father is a friend of his. The duo makes for some enjoyable reading as the two of them peel back the layer ...more
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Pretty typical Travis story, as he travels to Mexico to track down the last days of a mid-20s daughter of a friend of his. More exposition than usual though, dragged it down a bit.

Sure, it may seem the attitudes he has are sexist, but I think in general he has a fairly healthy appreciation for women. And while you might say the guy who smacked the woman on the bottom at work dates this, I don't think it does, because, as John Oliver recently said, things have changed less than you might imagine
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Years ago, I read many of the Travis McGee series and loved them. I had never read this particular book and it was wonderful to spend some more time with Travis and his sidekick, Meyer. Travis and Magnum PI share the same vibes - I’ll start reading this series again. They definitely hold up to re-reading. Classics!
MisterLiberry Head
Number 11 in this classic series by John D. MacDonald finds modern knight-errant Travis McGee embarking on a strange mission at the behest of his hirsute sidekick, Meyer: go down to Mexico, where Bix Bowie--the beautiful young daughter and only child of a rich, recently crippled friend of Meyer’s--reportedly has died in a car crash, and try to fulfill the bereaved father’s yearning “to know if she was having a good time” (p13). All expenses are paid, first class accommodations all of the way, pl ...more
Harv Griffin
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, reviewed
pic of DRESS HER IN INDIGO on my shelf

Travis McGee takes on the Isle of Lesbos, below the border, copyright 1969. You’re thinking of oral sex, aren’t you? Stop that! Below the border refers to Mexico.

John D., having done such an awesome job with A DEADLY SHADE OF GOLD below the border in 1965, sends Travis down there again. [Stop it!] He pushes the limits of the crime novel, setting new standards, taking on the hippie culture of drugs and free [not] love [Not!]; throw in revenge and torture almost of the “family honor killing” varie
This installment of the Travis McGee series is more in line with the promise of the very first volume despite the 1960's stereotypical nature of the female characters and the rampant sexual escapades. More effort is invested in the characters who are key to the story. The settings are particularly vivid, much more than in McGee's earlier forays away from Florida and into Chicago or the Southwest.

What begins as a variation of Chandler's The Big Sleep, quickly morphs into a commentary on the sixty
Charles Adkinson
I'm more a fan of the McGee novels set in Florida. I just don't care for deserts. Also, maybe I've watched too much Breaking Bad, but I absolutely anticipated McGee having a run-in with a drug cartel at some point, and that was nowhere to be found in this novel. Not that I can really call that kind of omission a fault, necessarily, but the looming danger that always sneaks up on him so suddenly was notably absent in this book. Just not my favorite McGee. It's also starting to wear on me, after 2 ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it liked it
I like John D. MacDonalds's Travis McGee series and given how difficult is to get your hands on the original paperbacks in used book stores, so do a lot of other people.

I have to say though, that unlike most of the other stories, this one doesn't hold up as well. It is definitely a book of its 60s time period. A much darker story, it delves into the degradation and dissipation of the drug culture, which is unusually heavy for pulp fiction. Not one of my faves, but I still love Travis and the Bus
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: drama, fiction, mystery
My least favourite of the Travis McGee books. A lot more soliloquies about the sex act than usual. Set in Mexico with a lot of despicable behaviours.
Koen Kop
Feb 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Too much hackneyed macho stuff - when you start skipping pages you realize this is no masterpiece - or ... you're growing old.
Judith Kerr
Feb 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
Actually, I did NOT finish this book. It is only smut!! I had assumed MacDonald was an outstanding writer. NO!! Gross!
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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

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)
  • The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper (Travis McGee #10)
“Old friend, there are people—young and old—that I like, and people that I do not like. The former are always in short supply. I am turned off by humorless fanaticism, whether it's revolutionary mumbo-jumbo by a young one, or loud lessons from scripture by and old one. We are all comical, touching, slapstick animals, walking on our hind legs, trying to make it a noble journey from womb to tomb, and the people who can't see it all that way bore hell out of me.” 16 likes
“Siesta is sweet when the light is gold, and when the vivid, young face on the pillow looks into yours, beside her, inches away, and smiles the woman-smile older than time, her exhalations warm against your mouth, as with slow fingers she traces your brows, lips, and the shape of cheek and jaw. There is nothing more es-stock. It has all been unfastened, all turned loose, with a guile that was so sweetly planned it could not be denied, even had there been any thought of denying it. Elena, you are the Mexican afternoons forever.” 1 likes
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