Breadcrumb Trails, Treasure Chests, and John D. McDonald

I’ve loved books as long as I can remember, and that is a long, long time. 

My good friend Bert Carson and I share a deep love for books, especially novels written by John D. MacDonald. Bert is a brilliant writer in his own right, and he understands the visual and emotional impact of tough, hard-nosed writing. He and I also agree that many mysteries or thrillers, especially those produced by authors like MacDonald, possess the long-lasting quality of literary fiction. The words sing off the page, and sometimes a phrase hits you like a bullet you never saw coming.

Bert has recently written a blog about MacDonald and his love for books. I want to share it with you.

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Free Fall In Crimson is the nineteenth book in the Travis McGee series of twenty-one books.  Travis was created and brought to life by John D. MacDonald, the author of over seventy novels.  You can find all of the McGee books here, on Amazon.  If you want to know more, go to Calvin Branche’s lovingly and masterfully constructed and maintained John D. MacDonald memorial site.  Here you will find all of the Travis McGee books and a whole lot more about MacDonald, his life and his fans.  The page Meeting Travis alone is worth the visit.

Just after reading book seventeen, The Empty Copper Sea, I stopped reading the Travis McGee series.  Not because I wasn’t enjoying them.  I was enjoying them too much.  In fact, I was devouring them like I used to devour candy in my sugar eating lifetime. Just as in those days, I pulled myself up short, like the old me eating a super large size bag of M&Ms, thinking, “Whoa, there are only four of these books left.  I’ve got to make them last.”

Bert Carson

So, I forced Travis out of my mind, like wadding up those last four M&Ms in the worn, once super-large size M&M bag and cramming it into my left rear jeans pockets, the one I never use for anything.

To keep my mind off those last four books, I reread Nevil Shute’s twenty-four novels, and, I have to confess, I read Round the Bend twice, bringing the total number of readings of it to at least fifty, since I discovered it and Nevil gathering dust on a high shelf in the Laurel Mississippi Public Library, forty years ago.

So, why am I sitting here on a warm, wet, very early spring afternoon, telling you about John D. MacDonald, Nevil Shute, Free Fall In Crimson and Round the Bend?

Because I love books.

I’ve loved them as long as I can remember, and that is a long, long time.  I caress and fondle them when no one is watching and sometimes when they are watching.  I read books and I write them.  But I’m telling you all of this to tell you that sometimes books are treasure chests you don’t expect.

To get to those treasure chests, you have to follow the trails, the breadcrumb trails left by authors.  Some are dead ends.  Others lead to treasure.  The one I found last night lead to treasure.

I began A Free Fall In Crimson, reading slowly, in order to drag it out as long as possible.  Naturally, I read the two quotes at the beginning of the book, just after the title page.  The first I had read before, it was taken from The Night of the New Moon, by Laurens Van Der Post.

It was the second quote that grabbed me by the throat, this one:

He will wonder whether he should have told these young, handsome and clever people the few truths that sing in his bones.  These are:

(1)  Nobody can ever get too much approval.

(2)  No matter how much you want or need, they, whoever they are, don’t want to let you get away with it, whatever it is.

(3)  Sometimes you get away with it.

Bert Carson is the author of Southern Investigation. Please click HERE to find the novel on Amazon.

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  • You got me with ‘Breadcrumb Trails, Treasure Chests, and John D….’

    It could only be the Master. I didn’t even have to have his whole name to click on the link.

    What is it about Travis? Don’t know, exactly, but I think these were of the few books which taught me that a book could be deliberately aimed at and appeal to men and women. Most Romance readers are women (though I keep pointing out that men could learn a lot about what makes women happy if they would bother to analyze a few), and most Thriller readers are men (ditto?). I got used to that quite young, and just ignored it.

    But when I started learning to write properly, I searched for the key to that, and, when I located it, used it deliberately and found that it works.

    I’m not sharing the specific secret, and most people are not interested in learning to write as I do, but it may have something to do with respect, with not objectifying the opposite gender, and John D. MacDonald’s women, while a little bit dated for modern times, were not, for when he was writing. The opposite gender is fully human (something I’ve granted men by default, and often found the feeling was not reciprocated).

    Thanks for the links, Burt. I go now to read.

    Sometimes you get away with it.

    • John D. was, is and always will be the very best. Enjoy.

  • Stephen Woodfin

    Bert,
    I happened on Free Fall in Crimson last year about this time. It reconfirmed my great admiration for John D. as the master of the novel.
    Regards,

    Stephen Woodfin

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