The Green Ripper

Book online The Green Ripper by John D. MacDonald

Original Title:

The Green Ripper



Book raiting:

4 stars


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Comment 1:

Full disclosure: this is one of my all-time favorite novels, one of my all-time favorite thrillers, and my favorite Travis McGee novel. Maybe I’m biased, but I don’t think so.You could begin the series with this book, and many people have. However, doing that gave some readers the wrong impression of Travis McGee. You should really start with other books in the series: The Scarlet Ruse, Pale Gray for Guilt, The Turquoise Lament, and Dress Her in Indigo to see how the events in The Green Ripper change the character. This change is the crux of the novel, and impacts the later books in the series. I have been a fan of John D. MacDonald and McGee since I first read The Dreadful Lemon Sky and then enthusiastically read through the series.When this novel first appeared in 1979, local supermarket chain Farm Fresh had nicely stocked, deeply discounted book departments. They had all the current bestsellers and new releases in hardcover and paperback, and a good backlist. They even handled special orders. Their discounts allowed me to afford hardcover books. I snatched this one up, read it one Saturday afternoon, and I was also changed. This was my first, and maybe the first, post Jonestown thriller.One evening in mid-November 1978, I was watching television in my apartment in Va Beach, when the network interrupted programming with a special bulletin. California Congressman Leo Ryan had been killed while on a fact finding mission in Guyana. That was it. Only a few little bits of information were released over the weekend. The true horror did not start to become clear until after Monday when we began to hear about the shootout at the Port Kaituma airstrip where the Congressman and others were killed, and the more than 900 bodies found by the first people into Jonestown itself.It was revealed to be a mass murder/suicide at the People’s Temple Agricultural Project. The People’s Temple was led by Jim Jones. It was the greatest loss of American life in a deliberate act ever recorded, and remained so until 9/11. The increasingly gruesome news reports, the iconic Time and Newsweek cover images, and two quickie paperbacks by the editors of the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle, ensured this event would always have a tremendous impact on me.I believe it also affected and inspired John D. MacDonald. In this novel Gretel Howard has just moved out of The Busted Flush, McGee’s houseboat, after living with him there for several weeks, and left a vacuum. He is determined not to let her get away. She means everything to him. Then, while in the capacity of her new job, she is murdered insidiously. Travis McGee is shattered, but determined to catch the killers. Posing as a man who lost his daughter to a fanatical religious cult, he infiltrates the Church of the Apocrypha. They do not trust him. They imprison him. Gradually he gets them to grudgingly trust him, but when he learns the group’s true intentions he realizes he can find depths of savagery even within himself.This novel won the National Book Award for hardcover mystery in 1980. The dust jacket art became an iconic classic. MacDonald’s message is just as true now as it was then: we must outwit the monsters.

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