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A Purple Place for Dying

(Travis McGee #3)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  4,967 ratings  ·  239 reviews
A beautiful woman calls Travis McGee to Arizona. She needs his help recovering the money that her good-for-nothing, soon-to-be-ex-husband stole from her. But she's not long for the world, and even though his employer dies, Travis isn't giving up. It's not often he leaves Florida, and he's not about to go home empty-handed. The third Travis McGee adventure.
Paperback, 285 pages
Published May 27th 1995 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1964)
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Greg Kenneth, I've sometimes thought that about other writers, but MacDonald ties up all the lose ends, so I think he solidly structures his novels before…moreKenneth, I've sometimes thought that about other writers, but MacDonald ties up all the lose ends, so I think he solidly structures his novels before he writes them.(less)

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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,967 ratings  ·  239 reviews

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John D. MacDonald is my latest crime/mystery reading 'crush'.

Once again I'm surprised/amazed at how good some writer turned out to be who for years I never thought anything of. In this MacDonald's case I actually didn't realize that him and Ross MacDonald weren't the same person (because I'm stupid, which has been proven on many occasions here by those with more smarts and less manners than I have). And I remember finding the one Lew Archer book I read as being boring in the same way I've felt
Dec 08, 2017 rated it liked it
James Bond, Thomas Magnum, Jim Rockford and Mike Hammer sit in a bar in Phoenix, discussing whiskey, women, handguns and John D. MacDonald’s 1964 Travis McGee novel A Purple Place for Dying.

Bond: Trav is my kind of gentleman, good with a gun, handy in a fight, and would make a good wing man. But too American though, too much of an individual.

All: Whoa!

Hammer: Easy Commander, you’re sitting at a table with some American men who don’t lose time for queen or country.

Magnum: Right James, all due res
"The man who believes himself free of any taint of madness is a damned liar."
- John D. MacDonald, A Purple Place for Dying


John D. MacDonald's 3rd book in his Travis McGee series. This one takes place largely in Southwest Desert. Along with his first two novels The Deep Blue Good-By (1964) and Nightmare in Pink (1964), A Purple Place in Dying was also published in 1964. Actually, all three of his first books were published in a 3-month period. Sometimes you space out your publications, and someti
Anthony Vacca
Don't read a Travis McGee mystery for its low opinion of the half of the world's population that aren't male, instead savor the crisp prose style that hasn't aged a day in over fifty years and delight in the precedent skeins of acerbic misanthropy. Plus there is embezzlement, blackmail, adultery and death by rock slide. A quick read as fine as a cerveza with your toes in the sand.
Cathy DuPont
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone especially non-readers
Just to make sure that readers of this review understand up front that Travis McGee is my best guy ever. Please consider that my only disclaimer. Been in love with Travis since I first met him in the early 1970's.

 photo apurpleplacefirstedition_zps6c13a0c5.jpg
First Edition Cover and Probably One I Read

This review is based, in part, on comments made on a blog created by D. R. Martin called Travis McGee and Me which I read and comment on regularly. All fans of John D. MacDonald and Travis should check it out. But a cautionary note, there are
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quite enjoyable 4-stars, with several unexpected twists.

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

An exquisite western setting, beautifully rendered by MacDonald, which works far better than the New York City of A Nightmare in Pink. The introduction by Lee Child is worth reading as well.

I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this, after 30 pages or so, but it surprised me. MacDonald's spare and open prose, his character and place description
Benoit Lelièvre
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slightly disappointing offering from the author I like to call the Michael Jordan of storytelling.

This is above average by any means, but what went wrong exactly here? The most interesting character aside from Travis McGee dies in the first chapter for starters and there's really just a poor recollection of her legacy throughout the novel. Mona Yeoman is just a pawn in something that's greater than herself, really. And so is McGee. He's stumbling in the dark a little bit in that one. The ending
Sep 05, 2018 added it
Crisp muscular prose, clean storytelling and the appealing bummy hero Travis McGee compensate for some dated Freudian stereotypes. The dark revelation at the finale is also handled well, and all in all, a good read.
There is nothing like reading a book that was written the year you were born to make you realize that the world has, in fact, changed beyond recognition. This book, in particular, will also make you realize that whoa, feminism and the changes it has wrought were long overdue and probably saved your life by coming along when you were small. The scary thing is that I almost certainly read this book for the first time when I was a young teenager and soaking up all the Travis McGee I could get my ha ...more
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent Travis McGee murder mystery. I love McGee's blend of casual, beach bum aura and his hardnosed attitudes and sense of reluctant morality. Very much reminds me of Magnum PI, though McGee is maybe a trifle more morally ambiguous.
Dennis D.
Jul 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
For more background, refer also to my GoodReads review of John D. MacDonald’s first Travis McGee book, The Deep Blue Good-By. From what I’ve learned, that book, its sequel Nightmare in Pink, and this book were all written at the same time in 1964, and then released in consecutive months. As a result, they’re all cut from the same cloth, and all equally establish the back-story of one Travis McGee, "salvage consultant".

Once again, we find McGee as a fish out of water, this time out west. He’s cal
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thrillers
A PURPLE PLACE FOR DYING. (1964). John D. MacDonald. ****.
This is one of MacDonald’s better McGee mysteries – although he still had trouble with male/female relationships and its attendant language. McGee is recommended by a friend to see if he can help a young woman get money back from her husband who has been milking her estate for about fifteen years. It all started out as a guardian relationship, but ultimately turned into a marriage of convenience. The convenience wasn’t all on the side of
Aug 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Apparently the first three novels in John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series were published simultaneously in early 1964. A Purple Place for Dying was the third. I enjoyed it more than the first two, but it's still pretty similar, and the things I don't like about the series so far are still here in full force. McGee's musings on the ways of the world always seem as if they're supposed to be profound, but they're generally trite and dated. And there's always a frigid, neurotic, female character ...more
Jeff Yoak
On my 2010 review of the Travis McGee series, this is the first of the novels that lived up to my memory. Travis is pulled in by an unhappy young wife to help her recover the estate left to her and stolen by her husband and he discovers that the story runs much deeper and becomes much more dangerous. It is gripping throughout. The characters are more fully drawn than in the previous novels and there is even mention of his "economist friend" Meyer, whom I know from experience will become on of my ...more
Definitely the most enjoyable so far, this is the 3rd Travis McGee story. He's developing into such an interesting, 3-dimensional character. The story was interesting, the mystery was solved without my assistance and the other characters had flaws, strengths. Very good... Looking forward to number 4, The Quick Red Fox.
Harv Griffin
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, reviewed
In 1964 John D. MacDonald broke many of the plot rules for popular fiction, several of the main-character rules, and took the narrative drive into social commentary. He kicked literary ass with Travis McGee. Travis is one of my faves, but there is a love/hate thing for him on GoodReads. #3 in the series; I've read this one 5+ times. @hg47
Shawn Granger
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
John D MacDonald never fails to entertain. A Purple Place for Dying is another great addition to the series. Rarely about intricate puzzle plots, can always count on fully fleshed-out characters. I loved the novel. McGee is a great character and very real. Even when folks arent lying they never tell the whole truth.
Peter Sullins
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better Travis McGee books. Good story, well structured. Little contrived ( snake saves the day?! ) Otherwise pretty good. Liked it a lot.
Jerry B
Aug 19, 2014 rated it liked it
We have decided to add the Travis McGee set to our reading list; this third entry (of 21 total) is our third. Some early plot developments remind us of a tale where Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is thrown into jail only to be released almost immediately as he “instructs” the cops on how to really pursue the case. {Child is a huge fan and has written introductions to many MacDonald books...} In “Purple”, Travis is accompanying a brand new client to a cabin in Arizona to get the low-down on her case wh ...more
Carla Remy
Dec 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
My only complaint was the physical book I was reading. I have built my John D Macdonald library by purchasing old paperbacks - very affordable. This one was an original 1964 paperback, I don't know if it had been read before. Very cool. But the pages wouldn't open all the way so it was a pain. That's all. On the upside, it had a very handsome photo of John D on the back, super young and attractive in his 40s (at 36, 40s seem that way I guess).
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
McGee repeatedly tells his love interest that all she ever has to say is "No". So naturally, they wind up (and this isn't a spoiler of the main plot itself) on a secluded island for an idyllic love affair in paradise. But still, the plot's the thing, and it gets off to a roaring, and very surprising, start within just a few pages, followed by numerous twists and turns.
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Truly excellent pulp detective mystery. It was a fun book to read, even though the spanking of an troublesome wife is accepted or sanctioned by male and female characters alike. I got over it and pretended it was 1964. (view spoiler) Great series so far.
Ed [Redacted]
Jul 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Another Travis McGee novel, this one notable only for its change of venue; Arizona this time rather than Florida. I was not particularly impressed by the story, but the pacing and dialog were of the familiar MacDonald quality. This isn't his best work, but any MacDonald novel is going to be worth reading.
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
JDM knows how to write a good thriller as Travis McGee goes about solving a woman's murder that was covered up, helps the husband of the murdered woman, helps the sister of the murdered woman's lover, helps the police and finally helps himself to the virginal sister.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
it's not so much the story line that grabs you, but the wonderful characteristics of Travis McGee and his insights into human nature, women, and life.
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
"I heard her gasp, They'd picked a great spot, steep rock on both sides. I'd hit the brakes, banged it (the car) into reverse, stuck my head out the window and went down the winding slope backward at a crazy speed. There was one hell of a crack, and a sharp peppery stinging on the back of my neck. It startled me enough to put me off. I banged the rock and came back onto the road again and into a curve and missed the curve, slid it backward onto a ride to a grinding stop, rear wheels lifted clear ...more
MisterLiberry Head
A PURPLE PLACE FOR DYING turns out to be the Desert Southwest. As McGee realizes, he’s “too far from the bright water and the bright boats” (p199) for either comfort or safety. He’s still got head snakes, bad wiring and the “flying twitches” from NIGHTMARE IN PINK when he decides he doesn’t want the job being offered by a rich rancher’s absurdly vibrant blond wife--and then a sniper shoots Mona Yeoman very dead as she’s standing only a few feet away from our horrified hero. Determined to suss ou ...more
Benjamin Thomas
This is the third novel in the original Travis McGee trilogy, all of which were originally published in 1964. Once again McGee is lured out of Florida and his beloved houseboat, “The Busted Flush”. He travels to Arizona, I believe (it’s not specifically mentioned in the book) to consider accepting a job from a young lady who believes her older husband is plundering her trust fund set up for her by her wealthy father. At first, McGee doesn’t like the way the job is shaping up but soon after meeti ...more
Feb 03, 2016 rated it liked it
For some reason MacDonald put Florida beach bum McGee somewhere out in the Arizona desert, trying to help a woman whose husband has apparently pilfered her sizable trust fund. Before he can even accept the case, she is shot dead by a sniper. Interesting set up, but the ensuing story meanders a bit, and it didn't provide a nifty plot twist like the previous novel. Not sure McGee's character was really developed much in this installment either. Of the first three novels, which I learned MacDonald ...more
May 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
I knew these would be dated, and likely sexist and racist (and they are), but what finally wore me down was the facile pop psychology "insights." This is, therefore, my last one. Important to the genre they may have been, but they are no more readable today than are most of the 1940's space opera yarns from the pulps.
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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)
  • 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)
“It would be one kind of penance. And there are never enough kinds. Not for him. Not for me. And certainly not for you, my friend.” 5 likes
“My friend Meyer, the economist, says that cretins are the only humans who can be absolutely certain of their own sanity. All the rest of us go rocketing along rickety rails over spavined bridges and along the edge of bottomless gorges. The man who believes himself free of any taint of madness is a damned liar.” 2 likes
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