Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

NIGHTMARE IN PINK by John D. MacDonald

John D. MacDonald Nightmare

Nightmare in Pink is the second Travis McGee novel, and though John D. MacDonald has settled into his character, he’s not yet settled into his world. McGee’s best stories are those that are set in Florida. This jaunt to Manhattan is interesting, though, and it definitely allows the author and character to flex their strengths.

McGee is in New York at the request of an old friend. Not many of those are alluded to in the series, so this one is important and reveals a little more of McGee’s backstory than we usually get. Such as the fact that McGee was a sergeant in the army.

Nina is the sister of McGee’s friend, and he’s loath to involve himself in her life romantically, especially on the heels of her fiance’s murder, but that’s just one of the hurdles the Florida knight errant has to clear in this one. The plot is really simple in some ways: someone is robbing someone else. However, proving that and finding out how it is done is wrapped in layers of lies and secrets.

McGee keeps poking and pushing until he finds out what he needs to know, but his arrogance at being able to ferret out all the answers almost proves his undoing. In the later books of the series, McGee is more of an action hero than he is here. Nightmare in Pink serves him up more as a cerebral private investigator. I enjoyed following along in McGee’s shoes as he makes his rounds and uncovers more of the plot and the players, but I missed the brawls and the near-escapes of the later books.

MacDonald waxes eloquent on metropolitan areas in quite a few places. In a couple I thought perhaps he was over the top, but it shows how well-read the author was. Especially for his time when such information had to be sought out instead of just pulled up on the internet.

The most important pieces are MacDonald’s observations on humanity and the relationship between men and women, and a healthy attitude about sex. Although the book was written fifty years ago and addresses the emotional maelstrom of relationships between men and women, it’s amazing to see that so much of that baggage still persists and strains relationships.

The ending got a little twisted and weird to me, but again it has to do more with where the field of psychology was at that time. There are several full-blown and twisted characters that step onto the stage in this book.

I read this book probably forty years ago the first time, when I was younger than John D. MacDonald, and it’s interesting to read it again now when I’m older than the author was. The series is rich and robust, and it was a pleasure to cruise back through these pages to watch a hero we seldom see.


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