JOHN D. MacDONALD – Pale Gray for Guilt. Travis McGee #9, Gold Medal d1893, paperback original, 1968. Lippincott, hardcover, 1971. Reprinted many times.

   A friend of Travis McGee has a small business that was blocking a big land deal, and the squeeze was put on. Things went a little too far, and the friend was dead. McGee suspected murder and sought revenge for himself and for the widow and kids.

   Hit them where it hurts – in this case, the wallet.

   After staging a form of the pigeon drop and some crafty manipulations on Wall Street, McGee and friends are a little richer, the shrewd businessman perhaps wiser, and the murderer, XXXXXX with a feeling for power, is disposed of XXXXXX.

   Future historians need not look further than books like this for the true story of civilization in 1968. MacDonald’s views on the automobile, funeral directors and hippies are pointed but accurately reflect the tolerance and frustration of all but the indifferent.

   MacDonald is not a mathematician, however, nor his editors – the division of the spoils on page 160 [of the Gold Medal paperback] is short by $100,000 – hardly insignificant. He also has the problem that too many characters talk alike, with elusive meaning, justifiable in that the story is told in first person; maybe McGee really talks that way. Tremendous depth.

Rating: ****½

– March 1968