MacDonald, John D

John D MacDonaldJohn Dann MacDonald (July 24, 1916 – December 28, 1986) was an American writer best known for his series of detective novels featuring protagonist Travis McGee. MacDonald was named a grand master of the Mystery Writers of America in 1972 and won the American Book Award in 1980. Stephen King, who praised him as "the great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller," dedicated "The Sun Dog" (a novella in his Four Past Midnight collection) to MacDonald's memory; MacDonald had previously provided the foreword to King's Night Shift.


Born in Sharon, Pennsylvania, MacDonald enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Finance but dropped out during his sophomore year to work menial jobs in New York City. While attending the Syracuse University School of Business, he met Dorothy Prentiss. They married in 1937, and he graduated from Syracuse the following year. In 1939, he received an MBA from Harvard University.


MacDonald served in the OSS in the Far East during World War II. While still in the military, his literary career began when he wrote a short story in 1945 and mailed it home for the amusement of his wife. She submitted it to the magazine Story without his knowledge, and it was accepted. In the first four months after his discharge, he put his total concentration into writing short stories, generating some 800,000 words and losing 20 pounds while typing during 14-hour daily sessions seven days a week. It only netted him hundreds of rejection slips, but in the fifth month, a $40 sale to the pulp magazine Dime Detective set his career in motion, and he continued to sell to the detective, mystery, adventure, sports, western and science fiction pulps. As the boom in paperback novels expanded, he successfully made the jump to longer fiction with his first novel, The Brass Cupcake, published in 1950 by Fawcett Publications' Gold Medal Books. His SF included the story "Cosmetics" in Astounding (1948) and the novels Wine of the Dreamer (1951) and Ballroom of the Skies (1952).


Travis McGee


MacDonald's protagonists were often intelligent and introspective men, sometimes with a hard cynical streak. Travis McGee, the "salvage consultant" and "knight in rusting armor," was all of that. He first appeared in the 1964 novel The Deep Blue Goodbye and was last seen in The Lonely Silver Rain in 1985. All titles in the 21-volume series include a color, and the novels usually feature an ever-changing array of female companions, plus an appearance by a sidekick known only as "Meyer," a retired economist. As Sherlock Holmes had his well-known address on Baker Street, McGee had his trademark lodgings on his 52-foot houseboat Busted Flush, named for the poker hand that started the run of luck in which he won her. She's docked at Slip F-18, Bahia Mar marina, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.




Various writers have acknowledged the trail that MacDonald and McGee blazed, including Carl Hiaasen in an introduction to a 1990s edition of The Deep Blue Good-by: "Most readers loved MacDonald's work because he told a rip-roaring yarn. I loved it because he was the first modern writer to nail Florida dead-center, to capture all its languid sleaze, racy sense of promise, and breath-grabbing beauty."




A complete bibliography including short fiction can be found here.



The Brass Cupcake (1950)

Murder For the Bride (1951)

Judge Me Not (1951)

Weep For Me (1951)

Wine of the Dreamers (1951)

The Damned (1952)

Ballroom of the Skies (1952)

The Neon Jungle (1953)

Dead Low Tide (1953)

Cancel All Our Vows (1953)

All These Condemned (1954)

Area of Suspicion (1954)

Contrary Pleasure (1954)

A Bullet For Cinderella (1955) aka On the Make

Cry Hard, Cry Fast (1955)

You Live Once (1954) aka You Kill Me

April Evil (1955)

Border Town Girl (1956) aka Five Star Fugitive

Murder In The Wind (1956) aka Hurricane

Death Trap (1957)

Hurricane (1957)

The Price of Murder (1957)

The Empty Trap (1957)

A Man of Affairs (1957)

The Deceivers (1958)

Soft Touch (1958) aka Man-Trap

The Executioners (1958) aka Cape Fear

Clemmie (1958)

Deadly Welcome (1958)

Please Write For Details (1959)

The Crossroads (1959)

The Beach Girls (1959)

Slam The Big Door (1960)

The End of the Night (1960)

The Only Girl In The Game (1960)

Where Is Janice Gantry? (1960)

One Monday We Killed Them All (1961)

A Key To the Suite (1962)

A Flash of Green (1962)

The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything (1962)

On the Run (1963)

I Could Go On Singing (1963)

The Drowner (1963)


Travis McGee


The Deep Blue Goodbye (1964)

Nightmare in Pink (1964)

A Purple Place for Dying (1964)

The Quick Red Fox (1964)

A Deadly Shade of Gold (1965)

Bright Orange for the Shroud (1965)

Darker Than Amber (1966)

One Fearful Yellow Eye (1966)

The Last One Left (1966)

Pale Gray for Guilt (1968)

The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper (1968)

The Long Lavender Look (1970)

A Tan and Sandy Silence (1971)

Dress Her in Indigo (1971)

The Scarlet Ruse (1973)

The Turquoise Lament (1973)

The Dreadful Lemon Sky (1974)

Condominium (1977)

The Empty Copper Sea (1978)

The Green Ripper (1979)

Free Fall in Crimson (1981)

Cinnamon Skin (1982)

The Lonely Silver Rain (1984)

One More Sunday (1984)


Collected short stories


End of the Tiger and Other Stories (1966)

S*E*V*E*N (1971)

Other Times, Other Worlds (1978)

The Good Old Stuff (1982)

More Good Old Stuff (1984)