Friday, September 24, 2010

Review of The Green Ripper by John D. Macdonald (Pan, 1980)

Travis McGee, salvage consultant and some-time detective, has finally found love with the lithe, Gretel.  Working at fat farm/real estate development as an all-round help – running with the fatties, coaching tennis, looking after the paperwork – Gretel has managed to stumble across a secretive organisation plotting a terrorist incident.  A fanatical religious sect, with cold war enemy connections, is trying to buy twenty acres of undeveloped land.  Only Gretel recognises one of the men, having encountered him when trying to rescue the sister of her former husband from the cult.  In order to protect their cover, the sect murder Gretel, and in so doing ignite the wrath of McGee.  Going undercover, expressly against wishes of the feds, McGee infiltrates the cult with the aim of exacting revenge.

The Green Ripper is the 18th McGee novel in a series of twenty one.  Macdonald writes elegantly in an easy and engaging style.  His characterisation is excellent, and he has a keen eye for observing and commenting on different social phenomena.  The first half of the story is well plotted and paced, unfolding in a way that draws the reader in.  The second half though lacked any real credibility.  Whilst how the religious cult operates and the motivations behind their actions seemed realistic, how they act with respect to McGee is a nonsense.  The rule of the camp is to kill all interlopers.  McGee is not only spared, he is invited into the group and becomes a confidant to all the other elite combat group members.  Then when they discover the truth, he triumphs against odds of 11 to 1.  All tense stuff, but it’s all but impossible for the reader to buy it.  I was confident based on the first thirty pages or so that this was going to be a five stars book, but in the end it tailed off to be a slightly above average affair.  There is more than enough here though to convince me to read more of his books.

6 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

He was my great love in his day.

Rob Kitchin said...

Which one - McGee or Macdonald?

pattinase (abbott) said...

Both.

Evan Lewis said...

Been a long time since I read a McGee, and I know I didn't get to #18. He'd be worth another look.

Austin Carr said...

Just finished Free Fall in Crimson yesterday. Think I'll make the Green Ripper next on my second pass through all 21. Eleven to one sounds like a fantastic finish to me.
:-)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have no email addresses for K.A. Laity or Kassandra so I will post this on their blogs. Rob-your email was returned so here it is.

Just so we're all on the same page, the only thing you are obliged to take from the story before yours is the character the previous story's protagonist was jealous of. So if Fred Astaire is jealous of Gene Kelly in the story before yours, your story about Gene need not mention Fred at all. And Gene can be jealous of his plumber for his ability to fix things or anyone you like. It would actually be better if we veer away from the initial source of jealousy.

My story concerns a high school teacher who is jealous of another teacher's charisma and talents. So Dana has a charismatic and talented guy to work with.

You will only have a week to write your story and I hope that is not a problem. If you find it is going to be, let me know and I will delay posting your link until it's done. But if we want to finish this by Christmas, it would be good to keep to every Tuesday. Let's give each segment its own title.

Schedule (And let me know if your week is a problem).

10/5 Patti
10/12 Dana
10/19 K.A. Laity
10/26 David Barber
11/2 Rob Kitchin
11/9 Sandra Seamans
11/16 Evan Lewis
11/23 Eric Beetner
11/30 Nigel Bird
12/7 Kassandra Kelly
12/14 Graham Powell
12/21 Patti Abbott

I will try to bring it back to Graham's person being jealous of my original character. I hope this is doable. Sometimes I wonder why I have a brain that thinks up stuff to make us all busy. But there you are. Let me know if you've had second doubt. Patti