Nightmare In Pink (John D MacDonald)

Nightmare in Pink is the second book in John D. MacDonald’s 21- novel Travis McGee series. Although McGee gets involved in mysteries, he is not a police officer or a private investigator. Instead, he is a “salvage consultant” who lives on a houseboat (“The Busted Flush”) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He prefers to be a beach bum, get a tan, reel in some fish, drink some beer, etc and seems a little uncomfortable in the big city. He is also a ladies’ man.

In this novel, like the others, McGee is the hero and leaves his haunts in Florida to journey to New York City to slay dragons and save the girl. What could bring him out of his regular hunting grounds? When he was in the war, he and his buddy Mike would take leave in Tokyo while the other pulled guard duty. McGee lucks out, spending the night in the arms and legs of a geisha while Mike gets blown up, ending up in a wheelchair, barely functioning.

Talk about laying a guilt trip on Travis…

Mike’s younger sister, Nina, who McGee had known when she was just a kid, is now a grown woman and her husband has been killed in a mugging. Nothing unusual about that, except for the $10,000 in cash she finds in the apartment after the killing. Something’s not kosher here and McGee is asked to look into it as it appears to somehow involve an embezzlement scheme the husband had started to uncover at his office. The author’s ability to tell a very straight story, while also interjecting observations as asides, is spot on as usual.

The first half of the book is rather slow as McGee charms one society dame after another in effort to gain information. While such witty repartee may be appealing, it detracted from the plot and lacked the great action that Brass Cupcake, MacDonald’s first novel, had. The novel doesn’t really start to move until the second half when McGee finds himself drugged with LSD (or some similar substance) and feels the table in the restaurant melting around him.

Then he is involuntarily committed to a mental institution where the evil doctors threaten to lobotomize him. At that point, the novel really soars. The descriptions of McGee trying to keep his grasp on reality and the action scenes at the hospital and elsewhere are top-notch. Of course, the book is filled with McGee’s observations about life, the universe, and everything, one of the things that people love about this series. This book has a lot to appeal to many groups of readers, including conspiracies, romance, and action. Its a very fast, thrilling, read.



  1. Sounds like a right belter ha ha! Excellent review, I’ll add this to my to-read list. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! He is definitely a writer no one should miss.


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