Talk to a Florida mystery writer, and eventually, you’ll hear the name John D. MacDonald mentioned, as in paying homage to one of the genre’s greatest writers. Over the past few months, the Sarasota Herald Tribune has published a periodic featured titled “John D. and Me” in which Florida authors reminisce about the great man or his influence on their own works.
By Googling the title, you can find many of the pieces by Stephen King, Randy Wayne White, and Jeffery Deaver among others online.
You’ve probably heard of John D. MacDonald, and if not him, certainly Travis McGee. MacDonald, who lived in Sarasota for a majority of life, started his career after World War II writing for the various pulp markets and making a name for himself. In 1964, in
“The Deep Blue Goodbye,” MacDonald introduced to Travis McGee, a salvage consultant living aboard his houseboat, the Busted Flush at Slip F-18 in Bahai Mar. According to the JDM website, 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.” Twenty more books, each with a color in the title followed.
I honestly can’t tell you which of the McGee books I discovered way back in high school, but I was hooked. MacDonald was a masterful story-teller, sparse with his words, but giving you just enough to feel, hear, well experience, McGee’s world. And all of those McGee books have influenced me as well, in the creation of Wolf Mallory, spinning a tale that’s believable, and even in the titles with the use of the word dancing or a variation of it.
So if you want some good beach reading this summer, I’d highly recommend MacDonald, or one of the many other Florida authors he has influenced.