The Deep Blue Good-by

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The Deep Blue Good-by
First edition cover
Author John D. MacDonald
Country United States
Language English
Series Travis McGee
Genre Mystery novel
Publisher Fawcett Publications
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 320 pp (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-449-22383-3 (Paperback)
OCLC 32512809
Followed by Nightmare in Pink

The Deep Blue Good-by is the first of 21 novels in the Travis McGee series by American author John D. MacDonald. Commissioned in 1964 by Fawcett Publications editor Knox Burger, the book establishes for the series an investigative protagonist in a residential Florida base—as well as a cyclical form: All McGee novel titles have a color in them. (MacDonald also included color in a further two unrelated novels: A Flash of Green and The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything).

Concept and creation[edit]

MacDonald was also quoted stating that he considered all the novels in the McGee series as one long story in many installments on the life and times of Trav, as McGee preferred to be called.[citation needed] As such, The Deep Blue Good-by is a good starting point for new readers interested in the series. While each of the 21 novels adds more information on the history, background and psyche of McGee, one of the more interesting aspects of the series is seeing him mature, evolve and age through the decades. At the same time, we see the American culture change, from the Kennedy years in The Deep Blue Good-bye through the upheaval of hippie counterculture and the sexual revolution of the late 60s and 70s until the last book in the series at the end of the Reagan years in the mid-80s. As a chronicler of the cultural zeitgeist, MacDonald has been compared favorably with Charles Dickens. Reading the McGee novels in sequence therefore gives the reader a fascinating experience of seeing McGee change through the decades as American culture also changes.

Plot summary[edit]

The Deep Blue Good-by introduces readers to McGee, his place of residence, the Busted Flush (a houseboat he won in a poker game), and its mooring place, slip F-18 at the Bahia Mar Marina in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In the early chapters we learn that McGee is a bachelor, a man who can be friends with ladies as well as have a passion for them, and a man of principle (although they are somewhat at the mercy of his uncertain emotional condition and his circumstances at the moment; in McGee's own words, "Some of them I'll bend way, way, over, but not break."). We also learn that McGee is by occupation a salvage consultant, a concept almost certainly coined and developed by MacDonald. (As a "salvage consultant," McGee undertakes to recover for its rightful owner money or property of which the owner has been wrongfully deprived and has no other hope of recovering, taking half its value as his fee.) McGee works when he has to, almost always only taking jobs when his supply of money (kept in an ingenious "hidey-hole" aboard the Flush) is low. In one tale, however, McGee avenges the murder of a long-time friend. In another, he is asked by the daughter of a friend to find out why her husband is trying to kill her. While he can be mercenary at times, he is not a mercenary.

Another feature of the McGee series is the seemingly unending parade of colorful and invariably evil villains whom McGee must contend with in order to make a recovery for his clients. In this first story the antagonist is Junior Allen, a smiling, seemingly friendly man, large, "cat quick", powerful, and pathologically evil. The story begins with a fortune smuggled home after World War II by a soldier who was a native of the Florida Keys. This soldier killed another soldier just prior to his discharge, went on the run back to the Keys, and buried his treasure there. He was later captured by the U.S. Army and sent to a military prison, where he met Junior Allen. Allen discovered vague details about the fortune hidden in the Keys and after his release from prison went there to find it. The story depicts the psychotic behavior of Allen as he evolves from thief to serial rapist to murderer. We see McGee's savvy, guile, and physical prowess as he works methodically to locate Allen and eventually make the recovery. As is thematic in many of the McGee books, however, he pays a heavy price for the successful recovery. Throughout the series, in fact, it is debatable as to whether McGee ever makes a recovery in which the costs outweigh the gain.

Film adaptation[edit]

According to the Internet Movie Database, a film version of The Deep Blue Good-by, directed by Oliver Stone with Leonardo DiCaprio as Travis McGee, was in development with a tentative release date of 2011 or 2012. In April 2010, it was announced that the film's title was changed to Travis McGee.[2][3] In April 2011, it was announced that Paul Greengrass was interested in directing the film.[4] As of February 2014, this has not materialized and the film remains listed as In development. On March 4, 2014, James Mangold attached to direct the film which DiCaprio will produce along with Jennifer Davisson-Killoran and Amy Robinson. Dana Stevens and Kario Salem wrote the first draft.[5] On July 15, Christian Bale attached to play the title role for the film The Deep Blue Good-by.[6]