Thursday, May 14, 2009

From 1/5/08

I may have mentioned before that I sometimes like to do some comfort reading when I'm in hospitals. Here's another example. It was originally published in 1961, a few years before MacDonald published the first of the Travis McGee novels, but this one could have been a warm-up for those. 

Sam Brice is a former pro football player who's returned to his small hometown (this is a bit likeDeadly Welcome, come to think of it) in disgrace, though of course he's actually a noble knight in slightly tarnished armor. A young woman named Janice Gantry disappears, along with an escaped convict to whom Brice has given aid and comfort. So Brice decides he'll dig into things and find out what's happened. He does, and while what happens won't surprise you, it's typical fine MacDonald storytelling, with some comments even 47 years ago about what the developers are doing to Florida.

MacDonald has his flaws, the irritating male/female dialog exchanges chief among them, but when it came to getting down the details of his time (he seemed to know everything about everything) and creating memorable characters, situations, and stories, he was hard to beat. I know some younger readers find him slow. I can't imagine that, but maybe the attention to detail, character, and description has something to do with it. Times and tastes (not mine, though) have changed.

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