Friday 17 May 2013



From a beloved master of crime fiction, The Quick Red Fox is one of many classic novels featuring Travis McGee, the hard-boiled detective who lives on a houseboat.
She’s the opposite of a damsel in distress: a famous movie star, very beautiful, very much in control of her life. She’s just made one little mistake and now she needs Travis McGee to set it right. The money is good and Travis’s funds are in need of replenishing. But that’s not the only reason he takes the case. There is the movie star’s assistant—efficient and reserved, with a sadness underneath that makes McGee feel he’d brave any danger to help her.

“John D. MacDonald is a shining example for all us in the field. Talk about the best.”—Mary Higgins Clark

Sultry movie star Lysa Dean has gotten herself into a spot of blackmail, posing for naked photos while participating in a debauched party near Big Sur. If the pictures get out, Lysa’s engagement to her rich, strait laced fianc√© doesn’t stand a chance. Enter Travis McGee, who’s agreed to put a stop to the extortion, working alongside Lysa’s assistant, Dana Holtzer.

They begin by tracking down everyone associated with the lurid evening, and soon enough they’re led on a chase across the nation as murder after murder piles up. Further complicating matters, Travis and Dana’s relationship soon turns steamy. And just when he thinks he knows exactly where things are headed, one big twist shakes McGee’s life to the very foundation.

Well, I’m continuing my McGee journey month by month. This was the fourth instalment in the twenty-one book series which MacDonald wrote and had published between 1964 and 1985. Incidentally, the first four were all published in 1964. I don’t believe that would happen today.

McGee is engaged by Lysa Dean, Hollywood hot property to get her out of a jam. After indulging in a sexual free-for-all with some guests on a break a year or so ago, she’s being blackmailed with photographic evidence of the shenanigans. McGee’s task is to remove the threat and try and recover some of the money paid.

Travis sets out on the recovery mission with the strait-laced Dana Holtzer, Dean’s disapproving assistant in tow. After identifying most other of the other orgy members, Travis and Dana traverse the country, catching up with and eliminating some of the players along the way. As the journey gathers pace, there appears to be someone else, a step or two ahead of them eliminating some of the participants in the sex-games.

This book was more enjoyable for me than the second and third in the series, maybe a notch under the standard of the first – The Deep Blue Goodbye.

McGee; sage, part-time philosopher, granite chin, iron fists and with a tender, caring disposition is an interesting companion to share a few hours with each month. He strikes me as a deeply moral person. He has his own code to follow - a short-haired hippy, minus the predilection for meaningless sex and drug abuse. Not adverse to violence when it is needed, but never as his first resort. I wonder how he would view the world fifty years on from this adventure.       

4 from 5

Bought second-hand as an omnibus edition online recently, so books 5 and 6 are already lined up.



  1. Col - I'm glad you enjoyed this one. Honestly, it's hard to go wrong with a Travis McGee story in my opinion. They're not all perfect (but what book is?) but they're consistently quite good.

    1. Thanks Margot, definitely better than last month!

  2. Col, I am glad you liked this one. I am looking forward to finding a time when I can fit in a Travis McGee book. My first one will be Deep Blue Goodbye. After that, don't know if I will worry about reading them all in order or not.

  3. Tracy, Deep Blue Goodbye is still my favourite so far. I'm sure it will be worth it when you get to it.