Sunday, August 19, 2012


I've read several of MacDonald's Travis McGee books, but never this final one until now. I felt like reading it after learning that Robert B. Parker's Cole and Hitch would be continued by actor/screenwriter Robert Knott. I support the continuation plans, but they also remind me that no two authors have the same intangibles. Parker wasn't the first mystery writer I read, but his eloquent, clean prose overshadowed everyone I read after him, John D. included.

I've been an email list moderator for thirteen years and, in that time, have tried to read widely and see writers' strengths and weaknesses. Even so, only now, two years after Parker's passing, do I realize to what extent he colored my opinions of other writing. As flattered as I'd be if someone likened my writing to Parker's or MacDonald's, I want to be appreciated for my intangibles.

Ready to see MacDonald in his own light, I chose The Lonely Silver Rain because I have a soft spot for first and last books. Writers put the most on the line with the first book; it's the one that sells the rest. It's pretty to think writers put the same into a series' last book, but most writers don't know they're writing a last book as they're writing it. In MacDonald's case, there's plenty to suggest he might have known.

Tracking down a friend's stolen yacht, McGee comes across the aftermath of three brutal murders and vows to bring the killer or killers to justice. A couple of close calls and encounters with recurring characters dying from cancer give him plenty of time to ponder, if not his own mortality, when he might give up his crusading lifestyle. The book is a satisfying last adventure in print, but its ending lets readers imagine more, the best of both worlds.

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