A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Marcia Muller:

JOHN D. MacDONALD – The Green Ripper. J. B. Lippincott, 1979. Fawcett Gold Medal, paperback, June 1980. Reprinted many times since.

JOHN D. MacDONALD The Green Ripper

   This relatively recent entry is one of the worst in the Travis McGee series. It is bloody and violent, involving a strange paramilitary cult and all the attendant cliches, and McGee’s personal vendetta against the cult seems to rob him of his more human qualities.

   In a prior novel (The Empty Copper Sea, 1978), McGee fell in love with a woman named Gretel Howard. She lived with him aboard the Flush for a while, but recently has moved out to be closer to her job at Bonnie Brae, a “combination fat farm, tennis club, and real estate development.”

   The relationship is still as warm as ever, though, and when Gretel dies suddenly of a mysterious and debilitating illness, Travis is devastated. Not so devastated, however, that he doesn’t wander sideways into inquiring about the strange events that occurred at Bonnie Brae right before Gretel’s death and determining that her death was somehow murder.

   The rather thin story line leads McGee from Fort Lauderdale to Ukiah, California, looking for a man known as Brother Titus who heads an organization called the Church of the Apocrypha. Posing as a man looking for his daughter, Travis locates an encampment, formerly a religious commune but now as closely guarded as a top,secret military base. He is imprisoned, then recruited, and the events that transpire are too brutal and depressing to reiterate.

   If there is anything positive about the resolution of this novel, it is that McGee eventually recovers; unfortunately, it is a recovery that fails to recognize that vengeance seldom leaves any real satisfaction in the soul of the avenger.

   Other, much better, titles in the McGee series are The Deep Blue Goodbye (1964), The Quick Red Fox (1964), A Deadly Shade of Gold (1965), The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper (1969), and Dress Her in Indigo (1969), and The Lonely Silver Rain (1985).

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.