The men who killed Tush Bannon knew he was a nice guy with a nice wife and three nice kids - trying to run a small marina on the Florida coast. They also knew he was in the way of a big land development scheme. Once they killed him, they figured they were on easy street. But Tush Bannon was Travis McGee's friend, and McGee could be one tough adversary when protecting a widow and her kids.
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My Favorite Book In My Favorite Series
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.
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.
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.
It Still Works
- Me & My Girls