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Darker Than Amber

(Travis McGee #7)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,487 ratings  ·  189 reviews
A great bestseller starring Travis McGee, a real American hero--and maybe the star of a new movie franchise! Reissue.

Helping damsels in distress is nothing new for Travis McGee--it's basically how he spends his life. But this one was different right from the start. Tossed off a bridge with cement wired to her feet, dragged to safety by Travis and Meyer, she was a hot Euras
Paperback, Fawcett Crest 22446-5, 283 pages
Published 1994 by Fawcett (first published January 1st 1966)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Bobby Underwood
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“All her symptoms of near-death had been physical, but emotionally she seemed to have an acceptance of it so placid as to be a little eerie. As if she knew the world as a place where sooner or later they heaved you off a bridge.”

Once John D. MacDonald wrote A Deadly Shade of Gold, the Travis McGee series began to take on a resonance that separated it from others of its ilk. Over the course of twenty-one books, Travis McGee became one of the most enduring and beloved characters in mystery fiction
Jun 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: crap, blog
Holy shit snacks. I can't believe I read the whole thing.

First off, let's get one thing straight. Reading this was a dare. All parties involved, including myself, knew I would most likely despise this book and find it a vile-coated offering with a noxious nougat center. I started to shelve this bad boy as "book rape" until I remembered that I had willingly agreed to subject myself to this slow torture and I didn't even have to be double dog dared. I'm that kid from A Christmas Story who willingl
Apr 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: who-done-it

Sure the gif is amusing – All hail Archer! – but, damn, it comes painfully close to capturing the main character’s prevailing attitude towards women as depicted in this book. Published in 1966, MacDonald’s early depiction of Travis McGee, as Mr. Penis-to-the-Rescue Problem-Solver would give the average woman fuel to start throat punching.

The book opens with McGee clinically employing his manhood to help a female friend through a painful break-up. Way to go, Trav! Did this include adding to your
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
NOT a book club edition. This is the first Travis McGee novel printed in hardcover in the US. The book's printing was preceded by the hardcover edition published by Robert Hale (UK) in 1968.

John Dann MacDonald (July 24, 1916 - December 28, 1986)

The seventh in the series. McGee and close friend Meyer are fishing under a bridge when a young woman is thrown from it. Basis for the 1970 film of the same name.

I binge read the series.
Cathy DuPont
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who enjoys a great storyteller like JDM
Recommended to Cathy by: Geez, some sailor.
From time to time I feel compelled to put in my two cents about Travis McGee’s relationship with women. However, Travis defends himself pretty well with his own clear words (and those of Meyer aka JDM) throughout the 21 book series, so it baffles me that people would say things such as “he’s a misogynist” or "he treats women like sex objects" or "all he wants is to get laid." In my opinion, all of these comments are inaccurate and just plain wrong. (Well, maybe the last one not as much…being wro ...more
Jul 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mcgee, crime-mystery
We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge.

You don’t get a much better opening line to a crime novel than that.

Travis McGee, the Florida boat bum and ‘salvage consultant’ who specializes in recovering money or items conned from people is just trying to do a little fishing under a bridge with his best friend Meyer when someone drops a girl wired to a cement block into the water in front of them. Thanks to some underwater heroics from McGee, they man
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, 2016, american, fiction
“We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody threw the girl off the bridge.”
― John D. MacDonald, Darker Than Amber


A straight forward John D. MacDonald. If you can surrender to him calling one of the characters a "b!tch" with the same indulgent tenderness you give to a racist uncle or to Dire Straits when they use "f@ggot" in their song 'Money for Nothing', you will certainly survive a certain 60s to early 80s machismo/sexism thing that MacDonald carries throughout his McGee books
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: John D. MacDonald fans. The rest: stick to Ross McDonald or Chandler or Hammett or Highsmith
I'm reading the first 12 again before reading the rest. So many raves on the book cover, a few declarations that the McGee series is one of the best crime series in American literature. Arguably, since there are 21 novels here, that's a good output, so maybe that's an arguable issue. But some declarations say MacDonald is one of the greatest crime authors. No, sorry, and here is one example: he continually uses the term 'girl' in such ways as 'that's a lot o
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5-stars! Must read. Wonderful stuff.

Again, stellar prose and plot and pacing by MacDonald.
W O W.

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

My bachelor houseboat, The Busted Flush, was tied up at Thompson's Marina in Marathon.

McGee and Meyer fishing from a skiff one night? (This photo from the 1970 movie starring Rod Taylor)

Full size image here

After the rescue
She sat up slowly, looked in turn at each of us, and her dark eyes were like twin
Benjamin Thomas
The 7th novel in John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series finds our rough-around-the edges “salvage collector” and his best friend Meyer fishing for snook late at night beneath a bridge in the Florida Keys. Suddenly from above them comes a squeal of tires followed shortly by the body of a woman plunging past them into the water, her feet bound and wired to a cement block. After Travis manages to rescue the unconscious woman from certain drowning, they return with her to the Busted Flush and get ...more
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Perhaps the best yet in the series, and also darker than most, with McGee working to bust open a deadly con ring responsible for the murders of dozens of seemingly innocent middle-aged men. Among his many other talents, MacDonald has an unrivaled capacity for relating his seedy, flawed villains with such vivid, intimate detail and insight that it just makes your skin crawl.

She sat up slowly, looked in turn at each of us, and her dark eyes were like twin entrances to two deep caves. No
Carla Remy
May 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Seven books into the series I find myself fairly bored. Maybe I've read them too fast. The writing is great, but the mysteries are too complicated and I don't care about house boats. Twenty books! I need a break... It does, however, shock and annoy me that McGee has been called misogynistic . Whoever said that was obviously someone who didn't read the books and doesn't understand what the word misogynistic means (and then other people heard it and thought it was true because, you know, it was sa ...more
It's been two years since I dusted off a Travis McGee mystery from my bookshelves. Darker Than Amber is the 7th book in the series and one of the better ones that I've read thus far. Author John D. MacDonald once again proves he can spin a mean tale.

We find McGee with his friend Meyer on a bit of a vacation with McGee trying to blow off some steam from his last investigation. He now has enough money put away that he can afford to relax for a few months. It's late at night and they are fishing of
John Mccullough
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
I got sick and wanted some comfort reading. I found this and felt better. MacDonald's hero, Travis McGee and his economist buddy, Meyer, are fishing under a Florida bridge when a woman drops in. Or rather, gets dropped in, feet first following a cement black. McGee dives in and she reaches for him, indicating she is alive and awake. McGee snaps into action, freeing her from the block and bringing her up to oxygen. She slowly recovers and divulges she is part of a con ring to fleece wealthy unatt ...more
Harv Griffin
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, own
pic of DARKER THAN AMBER novel on my bookshelf

Not my favorite Travis McGee, but this puppy has my favorite opening chapter by John D. MacDonald.

I've read this two or three times, I think. At least twice.

Copyright 1966. Growing up, I found Travis McGee novels harder to read than Matt Helm novels (by Donald Hamilton). But Travis holds up better now that we're into the new millennium; and MacDonald maintained a high quality of writing all the way to the end of the series (something Hamilton did not do).

Travis is not your average literary hero
This McGee is definitely dark. Starts of with a great set piece with McGee and Meyer out fishing under a bridge and a woman is thrown from a car with a concrete block tied around her ankles. McGee saves her and that starts the plot in motion. Turns out she's know angel and is involved in scheme to murder men for their money. So not the usual salvage job for McGee this time. Instead he decides to break up the murder scheme. Plenty of action and investigation. The description if the con games goes ...more
Maggie K
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
I am always arguing with people who label McGee as a womanizer, or even a mysogynist. Meyer describes it best in this one :
"You like women as people. You do not think of them as objects placed here by a benign providence for your use and pleasure, so in that sense you are not a womanizer. But you cherish the meaningful romantic charade."
Lee Thompson
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Been reading a bunch of MacDonald this past year since I bought a big lot (23 books) off eBay. He's quickly made it into my top five favorite authors. ...more
Chad Malkamaki
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this volume of the McGee series, in the last two books, McGee helps someone in trouble along with one of his friends. This show was another side of McGee, how he is when not having to take on his alter egos when trying to reclaim this book's victim. ...more
Jeff Yoak
This is my favorite yet re-reading the Travis McGee novels. Meyer is not only present, but an active participant. Travis comes up with a complex, clever and memorable plan.
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another solid McGee book. This time his pal Meyer gets in on the action. I enjoyed it the whole way through but it left me wanting more. I wanted a little more drama or a twist in the end. This is also the second McGee book in a row(out of order) I’ve read where he controls his erection. It’s like I hardly know the man anymore. Now to backtrack to book five in the series where I should have been. I’m sure the McGee will understand.
“Darker Than Amber” is the seventh novel in the 21-novel strong Travis McGee series. It is one of the tightest written books in the series and truly focuses like a laser beam on the problem at hand. McGee, if you are unfamiliar with the series, lives on a 52-foot houseboat, “The Busted Flush.” He works when he needs money or when someone or something drops in his lap. He is in the “salvage business,” meaning that he helps people get back money misappropriated from them and claims half the procee ...more
MisterLiberry Head
To be blunt, this 7th novel in the series isn’t an adventure at all worthy of the iconoclastic knight errant, Travis McGee, and the hirsute economist Meyer (possessor of the ineffable “Meyer Magic” and non-founder of the new religion, “Meyerism”). Fishing together one night during another installment of McGee’s swag-funded retirement, a cement-block-weighted beauty is thrown off a highway bridge almost onto McGee’s and Meyer’s small boat. Upon learning that the rescued young woman is no lady and ...more
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm on my way back from my youth re-reading JDM's Travis McGee series. I was rather disappointed with Darker Than Amber (Travis McGee #7) but I'll keep on reading these as long as I can find them at reasonable prices or in my library. ...more
Sep 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
The latest in my chronological reading of the Travis McGee series, DARKER THAN AMBER is indeed dark: it's probably the toughest in the series since the brilliant opener THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY, and perhaps the best since that one as well. There are some changes from the formula here: the damsel-in-distress is a knockout, but not very likable; and for the first time we get to see Meyer in action in a meaningful way. (Surely the witty economist Meyer is a stand-in for MacDonald himself, who took a d ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A much stronger novel than its predecessor. It builds on McGee’s complex and multifaceted relationship to women author John D. MacDonald established earlier in the series. Don’t read it for the mystery or the action. It’s filled with long, complicated scenes that are partly explained until the very end. Read it to take another step with Travis McGee as he sees another vibrant soul flushed down the drain by the evils of this world. It’s like keeping company to a friend who goes through a dark, bu ...more
A.B. Patterson
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first John D. MacDonald, and I loved it! Hard-boiled and noir to the highest level, but also with some fun intellectual diversions. The characterisation was great and definitely has me hankering for more. Can't believe it's taken me so long to discover John D. MacDonald! ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I have read and reread MacDonald forever. I love Travis McGee but this book made me shake my head. Travis the stud. A good read and a great writer and still I shake my head and cringe. We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody threw the girl off the bridge. and so it begins.
Kirk Jockell
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What's not to love about Trav and the salvage business ...more
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McGee and Meyer rescue a girl dropped from a bridge and soon find themselves embroiled in a quest to trap a band of murderous schemers with whom she was involved.

While it's not my favorite McGee, it's an interesting and solid thriller with some strong moments and interesting tricks and twists perpetrated by McGee to get the bad guys.
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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)
  • Bright Orange for the Shroud (Travis McGee #6)
  • 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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“We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody threw the girl off the bridge.” 43 likes
“We want out. In the end, it’s that simple. We want out, where the law is, where you prosper or you fail according to your own merits as a person. Is that so damned much? I don’t want white friends. I don’t want to socialize. You know how white people look to me? The way albinos look to you. I hope never to find myself in a white man’s bed. I don’t want to integrate. I just don’t want to feel segregated. We’re after our share of the power structure of this civilization, Mr. McGee, because, when we get it, a crime will merit the same punishment whether the victim is black or white, and hoods will get the same share of municipal services, based on zoning, not color. And a good man will be thought a credit to the human race. Sorry. End of lecture. The housemaid has spoken.” 1 likes
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