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What did you love best about Pale Gray for Guilt?
McGee is a conflicted but essentially moral man and his rage at what happened to his friend is very nearly palpable. It infuses the book with a tension it wouldn't have if the protagonist had been a disaffected third party investigator.
Another thing is the realness of the plot. As someone quite familiar with criminal activity, I am always struck that the action in this book follows the law of unintended consequences that we often see in street crimes. Other authors (Elmore Leonard and John Sandford come immediately to mind) use the technique in contemporary fiction but MacDonald did it first and does it best.
Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?
When a reader cares about the characters, he cares about what happens to them. MacDonald creates characters so real that each one of them could walk off the page and sit down on the next bar stool. We care, of course, about McGee's knight on a spavined steed but we also care about his friends, particularly Tush Bannon. How could you read the early description of the man and not see a decent guy? What happens to him is tragic...and thus the essence of the plot. We want to see justice.
Which scene was your favorite?
The scene where McGee cons a description of what happened to his friend Tush out of an unwitting phone repairman.
I have also always been moved by McGee's simplified visualization of life and death. I don't want to spoil it for the uninitiated but, suffice to say, I read it the first time when I was about 12 and it's stuck with me for nearly fifty years.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Another excellent McGee mystery that still works even though it was written in 1968. Once again there is a old friend in trouble. To quote Travis "Tush Bannon was the best friend I ever had." This despite the fact that that he is never so much as mentioned in the first eight books in the series. Bannon; his wife and three children are living on the water in their motel attached to his marina. It's a nice little business but it's unfortunately in the way of a large piece of property that both local and statewide big shots want to get their hands on. So using the power of local government they drive him into bankruptcy; then he is killed. Though they attempt to make it look like a suicide McGee has the body sent to a lab where he has another friend who hasn't appeared in any of the other McGee novels. It's not a suicide; it's murder.
So McGee and Meyer swing into action to con every penny possible out of the local big shot (Preston LaFrance) and the state, even national big shot (Gary Santo.) They are aided if only slightly by McGee's love interest in this book Puss Killian. (An obvious ode to Pussy Galore from the Bond film Goldfinger) She is a more serious girlfriend than most of the McGee paramours and is thus marked for death. Her explanation for leaving is convoluted and delivered in a letter in the conclusion of the book and strains credulity.
Despite a few far fetched scenarios the book is written well enough to make up for some lack of realism in the characters.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?
This is for completists
What was most disappointing about John D. MacDonald’s story?
. I wasn't expecting originality by book 9, just more of the same hard boiled pulp but it got a bit bogged down in certain elements of the plot, which unfortunately I didn't find that interesting. A good start gradually feels a bit directionless and treading water till the finale.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Ambivelence and disappointment
Any additional comments?
There have been stronger Travis McGee novels and by book 9, it's feeling a bit underwhelming
Would you listen to Pale Gray for Guilt again? Why?
Yes. Over and over again, for the thrill, skill and wit of the writing.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Pale Gray for Guilt?
Mcgee's reading of the letter from Puss, the one love-of-his-life that got away before he did. The contrast of his joy from at last hearing from her with his despair at learning what she has to say.
Which character – as performed by Robert Petkoff – was your favourite?
McGee, the man himself - a one off, just as the voice suggests. Writer and Performer in perfect harmony: as individual the moment, as American as mayhem.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
When Con, the beaten-down, recently widowed wife of McGee's good friend - the pivot for the story - knowingly kills the killer of her husband. And by taking on the responsibility of revenge restores herself.
Any additional comments?
It attacks all the senses. Suspenseful, sexy, violent, sensitive - ingenious in its plotting and fresh as NOW in its telling. Truly a story and a half.