“A Deadly Shade of Gold,” the 5th in the Travis McGee series is bawdy and brutal; a bloody chase novel taking McGee from Florida to Mexico to LA. MacDonald has a wondrous sense of place and you can feel the sensuous breezes and see the spectacular sunsets he creates for you. There are a few creaky spots: Nora, Travis's love interest, is so ‘50's lady-like, you expect her to be white gloved and hatted even in the shower; -- all characters are super sun worshippers while the reader uneasily thinks about skin cancer. Be that as it may, it's a fine rousing tale with careful characterizations and Travis's philosophies served up painlessly.
Old buddy Sam Taggart, a three-year missing person, contacts Travis in dire need of his services as a salvage consultant. The deal sounds shady at best as Sam claims he is the rightful owner of 28 crude golden idols dating from pre-Colombian times. The hitch is 27 of the 28 have been stolen from him, and he wants them back. Sam is down on his luck and appears to be on the run. When he took off three years ago without a word, he left the beauteous Nora high and dry. Now he is back to redeem himself. Before Trav can get Sam and Nora together, or even decide whether he wants to accept Sam's offer, Sam is brutally murdered. Nora hires Trav to find the killer, but insists on accompanying him (natch) when the trail leads to Mexico. The action is fierce, retribution is swift and oh-so-well-described, and Trav and Nora find something more in common than Sam.
“A Deadly Shade of Gold” at 434 pages is long for a Travis McGee novel, but moves swiftly. MacDonald takes great care in setting up his locales, which makes for lovely reading. Though Sam exits early, he is with us throughout the book, and gradually an entirely different Sam emerges posthumously. This is handled cleverly by friend's ruminations, and we are allowed to derive our own conclusions. Travis is not yet fully formed; he's still pretty rough around the edges, but this novel sets the course for the future. Very enjoyable.
This report prepared by sweetmolly