01
Aug
11

CR3 #63: Nightmare in Pink by John D. Macdonald

Nightmare in Pink is the sequel to Macdonald’s first Travis McGee novel, The Deep Blue Good-by. In this adventure, Trav finds himself doing a favor for an old friend’s sister, investigating the circumstances of a suspicious death and accusations of embezzlement. Unfortunately for Trav, it turns out the situation is significantly more complex (and more dangerous) than he ever would have guessed. He gets himself wound up with some unsavory characters while investigating the circumstances of an eccentric New York businessman, as well as finding himself forming romantic entanglements with his client.

This book is a solid mystery story, but nothing especially exciting. The character of Trav is all right, but I think the series suffers from a lack of repeat secondary characters. Some of the best series are good specifically because of quirky, interesting sidekicks, villains, or peripheral characters. After all, what would Sherlock Holmes be without Watson, Moriarty, and Mrs. Hudson? Where would Nancy Drew be without Bess, George, and Ned? Lehane’s Kenzie and Gennaro novels wouldn’t be nearly as interesting without their gun-wielding friend Bubba. Dr. Alex Delaware would be lonely without his friend Milo, the gay police detective. A mystery series needs to have more characters recur than just the lead. Particularly when the lead is somewhat cynical and not very exciting.

As I said, this was a perfectly serviceable novel, but nothing about the plot or about Travis McGee makes me the slightest bit anxious to get the next book in the series. It’s a shame, since there are so many of them, but I think I’ll go back to the Nero Wolfe mysteries instead.

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