Bad editing in John D. MacDonald

This is a little narrow, but I don’t have a good book group at the moment so I will toss it out.

I reread the Travis McGee books on about a two-year rotation, in little groups of the similar ones at a time. If there’s one I’ve never really liked much, it’s the late Free Fall in Crimson. I was never sure why it grated, just a bit, but I think I’ve found the reason:

The editing is absolutely wretched.

Now, he wrote two better (and final) sequels, so it wasn’t necessarily a last-gasp thing. And I never got the idea that he was a “hands-off” author who forbade publishers from doing routine copy editing. But within the first few pages is a huge non sequitur, and there are other very rough ends later that even a junior copy editor should have caught, flagged and had fixed.

In the beginning, Meyer is telling Travis about the strange death of Ellis Esterland, with Esterland’s son present. He mentions a woman who was involved with Esterland that he (Meyer) met and worked with on some final financial arrangements. It is clear that he’s describing someone Travis has never met nor heard of.

Just a few pages later, Travis meets this woman… and there is a two-paragraph exchange about how they remember each other from some unspecified prior meeting. If you’re just popcorn reading, you might miss the glitch, but in spotting it I found why the book always starts off sort of irritating me.

Another glitch: the biker leader (who strongly resembles a very early sketch of Jax Teller!) says he’s going to go out and talk with “the McGiggle Twins”… apparently referring to Travis and Meyer. But only Travis goes out to talk, and there’s a bit of a specific exchange when they come back in and tell Meyer about it. Another lapse of writer thought/editing that even a raw copyeditor should have caught.

There are more. How odd. Even for a potboiler detective series novel. I can’t think of a major glitch in any of the other twenty books.

Nice to know there’s another Travis fan about. I have most trouble with Nightmare in Pink, which makes LSD rather more lurid than it is, and thus seems awfully dated to me. And, of course, when he starts moralizing about love and sex…Still, the most favorite of my guilty pleasures. I like the Matt Helm books, too. Any similar series you’ve read and would care to suggest would be welcome.

Travis is very anti-lesbian.

Travis is a product of his times.

The novel with the cartoon lesbians was written in 1964. I can’t recall another gay woman until the rather vanilla mention in the book I started this thread about.

He had a few mildly stereotyped/homophobic passages in other books through about 1968.

As Bricker says, it’s of the/his times.

I took this to mean that Meyer and Travis had each met Anne in the past, but separately. That is, Meyer mentions Anne not realizing that Travis had also met her – albeit briefly. This ties in to their seeing her in the hotel: she greets Meyer warmly but looks at Travis and says, “I think I remember you.”

I don’t recall any text that “clearly” establishes otherwise. What is clear is that the prior meeting was brief; Meyer greets her as “Anne,” but Travis calls her “Miss Renzetti,” until she invites him to call her Anne as well. And when Travis returns to the hotel alone, Anne greets him as “Mr. McGraw,” showing again that whatever prior meetings they had were not memorable.

Obviously the second encounter between them is more memorable.

No, this is your mistake. The “McGiggle Twins,” are McGee and Magoo. That’s highlighted in the look Preach has when he introduces McGee to Magoo.