Book Order by Series

Travis McGee Books in Order

Travis McGee Books in Order

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McGee series by John D. MacDonald follows Travis McGee, an adventurer, philosopher, and “salvage consultant” now retired, who ends up spending his days on a houseboat.

Travis can locate anything his clients desire as long as they are willing to give him half. He charges such hefty prices because he understands how risky the business can be.

In The Deep Blue Goodbye, for example, a woman asks Travis to help her recover a fortune she lost. He soon finds himself drawn into the pursuit of a serial rapist. 

Travis McGee has been praised for giving the mystery genre a new spin. For many reasons, the Travis McGee novels should be classified as gritty detective novels, regardless of how loveable a character McGee is. 

Travis McGee Books in order 

Travis Mcgee

  1. The Deep Blue Good-By (1964)
  2. Nightmare in Pink (1964)
  3. A Purple Place for Dying (1964)
  4. The Quick Red Fox (1964)
  5. A Deadly Shade of Gold (1965)
  6. Bright Orange for the Shroud (1965)
  7. Darker Than Amber (1966)
  8. One Fearful Yellow Eye (1966)
  9. Pale Gray for Guilt (1968)
  10. The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper (1968)
  11. Dress Her in Indigo (1969)
  12. The Long Lavender Look (1970)
  13. A Tan and Sandy Silence (1971)
  14. The Scarlet Ruse (1972)
  15. The Turquoise Lament (1973)
  16. The Dreadful Lemon Sky (1974)
  17. The Empty Copper Sea (1978)
  18. The Green Ripper (1979)
  19. Free Fall in Crimson (1981)
  20. Cinnamon Skin (1982)
  21. The Lonely Sliver Rain (1984)

Similar authors

  • John Sandford’s Letty Davenport follows Letty Davenport. She’s the brilliant and tenacious adopted daughter of Lucas Davenport and takes over her father’s investigation.
  • Jack Reacher by Lee Child follows Jack Reacher. He travels the country taking odd jobs and investigating suspicious and often risky situations.

See also: John Puller Books in Order.

Most recommended books

  1. Pale Gray for Guilt (Travis McGee #9) (4.16 Goodreads score)
  2. Cinnamon Skin (Travis McGee #20) (4.16 Goodreads score)
  3. The Empty Copper Sea (Travis McGee #17) (4.15 Goodreads score)
  4. Free Fall in Crimson (Travis McGee #19) (4.15 Goodreads score)
  5. The Green Ripper (Travis McGee #18) (4.11 Goodreads score)

Awards

In 1986, John D. MacDonald was nominated for an Anthony Award for The Lonely Silver Rain. The author won the National Book Award for The Green Ripper in 1980.

Movies based on the series

Four of Tony Hillerman’s novels have been adapted for the big screen, including “The Dark Wind”, “Skin Walkers”, “A Thief of Time” and “Coyote Waits”

Latest releases

The last book of the series, The Lonely Silver Rain, was published in 1984.


Book summaries

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The Deep Blue Good-By (1964)

Travis McGee is a self-described beach bum who won his houseboat in a card game. He’s also a knight-errant who’s wary of credit cards, retirement benefits, political parties, mortgages, and television. He only works when his cash runs out, and his rule is simple: He’ll help you find whatever was taken from you, as long as he can keep half.McGee isn’t particularly strapped for cash, but how can anyone say no to Cathy, a sweet backwoods girl who’s been tortured repeatedly by her manipulative ex-boyfriend Junior Allen? What Travis isn’t anticipating is just how many women Junior has torn apart and left in his wake. Enter Junior’s latest victim, Lois Atkinson. Frail and broken, Lois can barely get out of bed when Travis finds her, let alone keep herself alive. But Travis turns into Mother McGee, giving Lois new life as he looks for the ruthless man who steals women’s spirits and livelihoods. But he can’t guess how violent his quest is soon to become. He’ll learn the hard way that there must be casualties in this game of cat and mouse.


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Nightmare in Pink (1964)

Travis McGee’s permanent address is the Busted Flush, Slip F-18, Bahia Mar, Lauderdale, and there isn’t a hell of a lot that compels him to leave it. Except maybe a call from an old army buddy who needs a favor. If it wasn’t for him, McGee might not be alive. For that kind of friend, Travis McGee will travel almost anywhere, even New York City. Especially when there’s a damsel in distress.The damsel in question is his old friend’s kid sister, whose fiancé has just been murdered in what the authorities claim was a standard Manhattan mugging. But Nina knows better. Her soon-to-be husband had been digging around, finding scum and scandal at his real estate investment firm. And this scum will go to any lengths to make sure their secrets don’t get out. Travis is determined to get to the bottom of things, but just as he’s closing in on the truth, he finds himself drugged and taken captive. If he’s being locked up in a mental institution with a steady stream of drugs siphoned into his body, how can Travis keep his promise to his old friend? More important, how can he get himself out alive?


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A Purple Place for Dying (1964)

Travis McGee’s taking his retirement in installments while he’s still young enough to enjoy it. But sooner or later, his money runs out and he has to work. This time McGee’s lured out West to a strangely secretive meeting with a woman in trouble, in a place whose beauty hides some ugly, dangerous secrets.Mona is in love with a poor, young college professor and married to a wealthy man whom she is convinced is stealing from her trust fund. So she does what any self-respecting girl would do: She hires someone to steal her money back so she can run away with the love of her life. Travis isn’t sure he wants to help out until he sees Mona getting shot and killed out on the cliffs near her cabin. Now he’s a lead suspect in a plot to help her escape, and to clear his name, he needs to get to the bottom of things. But the murders just keep mounting, and for Travis, even working with Mona’s husband doesn’t seem to help matters. Will he be able to uncover the complex plot in time to save his own skin?


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The Quick Red Fox (1964)

She’s the opposite of a damsel in distress: a famous movie star, very beautiful, very much in control of her life. She’s just made one little mistake and now she needs Travis McGee to set it right. The money is good and Travis’s funds are in need of replenishing. But that’s not the only reason he takes the case. There is the movie star’s assistant—efficient and reserved, with a sadness underneath that makes McGee feel he’d brave any danger to help her.


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A Deadly Shade of Gold (1965)

When Travis McGee picks up the phone and hears a voice from his past, he can’t help it: He has to meddle. Especially when he has the chance to reunite Sam Taggart, a reckless, restless man like himself, with the woman who’s still waiting for him. But what begins as a simple matchmaking scheme soon becomes a bloody chase that takes McGee to Mexico, a beautiful country from which he hopes to return alive.Deception. Betrayal. Heartbreak. When Sam left his girlfriend, Nora, and vanished from Fort Lauderdale, no one was surprised. But when he shows up three years later lying in a pool of his own blood, people start to ask questions. And his old friend Travis McGee is left to find answers.But all he has to go on are a gold Aztec idol and a very angry ex-girlfriend. Is that enough to find his friend’s killer? And when the truth is as terrifying as this, does he really want answers after all?


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Bright Orange for the Shroud (1965)

Usually women came to take refuge aboard The Busted Flush. But this time a man stumbled on board, a walking zombie who fell into bed. Turned out poor Arthur Wilkinson was the latest victim of a fragile-looking blonde sexpot who used the blackest arts of love to lure unsuspecting suckers into a web of sordid schemes. Travis had thought he’d have a quiet summer. Instead he took on the most cunning, heartless, vicious con artists he’d ever met….


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Darker Than Amber (1966)

A fishing trip is anything but relaxing when Travis McGee is involved. As McGee and his friend Meyer settle down to some midnight casting, a woman falls into the water from the bridge above them. Her name is Evangeline, and the hints she gives about the events leading to her near drowning suggest a less than pristine past. But McGee has saved her, and now he wants to see her make a new life—even if it means confronting a gang of murderers that makes his blood run cold.


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One Fearful Yellow Eye (1966)

How to you extort $600,000 from a dying man? Someone had done it very quietly and skilfully to the husband of Travis McGee’s ex-girlfriend. McGee flies to Chicago to help untangle the mess and discovers that although Dr. Fortner Geis had led an exemplary life, there were those who’d take advantage of one “indiscretion” and bring down the whole family. McGee also discovers he likes a few members of the family far too much to let that happen….


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Pale Gray for Guilt (1968)

Travis McGee’s old football buddy Tush Bannon is resisting pressure to sell off his floundering motel and marina to a group of influential movers and shakers. Then he’s found dead. For a big man, Tush was a pussycat: devoted to his wife and three kids and always optimistic about his business—even when things were at their worst. So even though his death is ruled a suicide, McGee suspects murder . . . and a vile conspiracy.


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The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper (1968)

He had done a big favor for her husband, then for the lady herself. Now she’s dead, and Travis McGee finds that Helena Pearson Trescott had one last request of him: to find out why her beautiful daughter Maureen keeps trying to kill herself. But what can a devil-may-care beach bum do for a young troubled mind? McGee makes his way to the prosperous town of Fort Courtney, Florida, where he realizes pretty quickly that something’s just not right. Not only has Maureen’s doctor killed herself, but a string of murders and suicides are piling up—and no one seems to have any answers. Just when it seems that things can’t get any stranger, McGee becomes the lead suspect in the murder of a local nurse. As if Maureen didn’t have enough problems, the man on a mission to save her will have to save himself first—before time runs out.


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Dress Her in Indigo (1969)

Travis McGee could never deny his old friend anything. So before Meyer even says please, McGee agrees to accompany him to Mexico to reconstruct the last mysterious months of a young woman’s life—on a fat expense account provided by the father who has lost touch with her. They think she’s fallen in with the usual post-teenage misfits and rebels. What they find is stranger, kinkier, and far more deadly.


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The Long Lavender Look (1970)

A lovely young girl steps in front of Travis McGee’s headlights. McGee misses the girl but lands in ten feet of swamp water. As he’s limping along the deserted road, someone in an old truck takes a few shots at him. And, when he goes to the local sheriff to complain, the intrepid Travis McGee finds himself arrested and charged with murder. And he can’t help but ask himself, is this what they call southern hospitality…?


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A Tan and Sandy Silence (1971)

Travis McGee is unnerved when he receives an unexpected guest—real estate developer Harry Broll, who is convinced that McGee is hiding his missing wife. Angry and jealous, Harry gets off a shot before McGee can wrestle his gun away. The thing is, McGee hasn’t seen or heard from Mary Broll in three years, and it isn’t like her to keep troubles to herself—if she’s alive to tell them.


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The Scarlet Ruse (1972)

Travis McGee’s getting lazy. Drinking Boodles on the Busted Flush has become a full-time job. But when he hears that six figures’ worth of rare stamps have wandered off, McGee finds himself back in the salvage business. To deliver on this case, McGee will have to be suspicious of everyone he meets—because what he’s looking for is property of the mob.


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The Turquoise Lament (1973)

Funny thing about favors. Sometimes they come back to haunt you. And Travis McGee owes his friend a big one for saving his life once upon a time. Now the friend’s daughter, Linda “Pidge” Lewellen, needs help five time zones away in Hawaii before she sails off into the deep blue with a cold-blooded killer: her husband.


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The Dreadful Lemon Sky (1974)

Around four in the morning, Travis McGee is jarred awake by a breathless ghost from his past: an old flame who needs a place to stash a package full of cash. What’s in it for McGee? Ten grand and no questions asked. Two weeks later, she’s dead.Carolyn Milligan was only aboard McGee’s boat for one night. She came to drop off a hundred grand for safekeeping. What Carrie really needed was someone to keep her safe. She said she’d be back in a month. Instead Carrie is killed in a dubious roadside accident. Now McGee is left with a fortune—and a nagging conscience. So McGee takes a trip to the seedy little town of Bayside, Florida, to look into Carrie’s life before she showed up on his boat. What McGee finds only pushes him further into the corrupt world of drugs and blood that Carrie was trying to escape. McGee is used to high stakes, but when the bodies start piling up, even he may be in over his head.


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The Empty Copper Sea (1978)

Asking for help is something a proud man like Van Harder would never do. So when he shows up at the Busted Flush, Travis McGee knows that he must be the man’s last resort. What Harder wants salvaged is his reputation. After a long career as a seaman, he was piloting a boat the night his employer fell overboard. Harder is certain he’s been set up, but to help him, McGee must prove that a dead man is actually alive.The fateful ride started with Harder at the helm of Hubbard Lawless’s luxury cruiser. It ends with him coming to, fuzzy and disoriented, and Hub lost to the water. Now everyone is saying that Harder got drunk, passed out, and is negligent in his boss’s death. The thing is, Van’s not a drinker . . . at least, not anymore.Who would want to frame the good captain, and to what end? Dead or alive, Lawless is worth a lot of money. People are always eager to get a piece of that action—including some, as McGee soon finds, who are willing to take a piece out of anyone who gets in their way.


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The Green Ripper (1979)

Travis McGee has known his share of beautiful girls, but true love always passed him by—until Gretel. Life aboard the Busted Flush has never been so sweet. But suddenly, Gretel dies of an unidentified illness—or so he’s told. Convinced that the woman who stole his heart has been murdered, McGee finds himself pursuing a less-than-noble cause: revenge.McGee has lost not only the love of his life but also his last hope for stability. Soon grief turns to blinding rage. So when he finds the people responsible for Gretel’s death, McGee goes off the rails—and off the grid, three thousand miles from home. McGee emerges in the California woods as Tom McGraw, a fisherman looking for his long-lost daughter. This mysterious newcomer starts knocking off targets one by one. But as he pursues his single-minded crusade for justice, he becomes more and more unhinged. McGee has spent his life saving other people, but now he’ll need to find the strength to save himself—before he loses his mind.


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Free Fall in Crimson (1981)

He was rich, mean, and slowly succumbing to cancer—until someone hastened the inevitable by beating him to death at a Florida truck stop. Now Ellis Esterland’s son wants Travis McGee to find out who killed his estranged father. The why seems obvious: Esterland’s multimillion-dollar estate.Though he had been reassured that he would receive a substantial inheritance, Ron Esterland was disowned by his wealthy father years ago. But upon dear old Dad’s conveniently timed murder, the family fortune winds up in the hands of Ellis’s ex-wife instead. The quest to recover Ron’s money takes McGee from Hollywood to the Midwest, where he confronts prostitution rings and drug deals gone wrong. In the haze of violence surrounding him, McGee starts to lose sight of who he really is. But one thing remains crystal clear: McGee is on the trail of a killer conjured from his worst nightmares.


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Cinnamon Skin (1982)

When Travis McGee’s friend Meyer lent his boat to his niece Norma, and her new husband Even, the boat exploded out in the waters of the Florida Keys. Travis McGee thinks it’s no accident, and clues lead him to ponder possibilities of drugs and also to wonder where Evan was when his wife was killed….


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The Lonely Sliver Rain (1984)

Travis McGee has luck to thank for his reputation as a first-rate salvager of stolen boats. Now Billy Ingraham, a self-made tycoon, is betting that McGee can locate his $700,000 custom cruiser. McGee isn’t so sure. He knows all too well the dangerous link between Florida boatjackings and the drug trade, and he’s vowed never to swim with the sharks—but if he wants to keep his head (AKA finances) above water, swim he will.Even though McGee doesn’t feel like sticking out his neck for this case, Billy’s wife, Millis, convinces him to step up to the challenge. Sort of. After a pilot friend leads him to the stolen vessel, McGee immediately regrets not going with his gut. The yacht is no longer an ordinary boat. It’s a slaughterhouse. After witnessing the sordid scene, McGee realizes he’s knee-deep in the white-hot center of an international cocaine ring. In the midst of this terrifying ordeal and an affair with a very dangerous woman, McGee is shocked by the return of a secret from his past. Over the years, McGee has recovered many wrecks—now he’ll need to salvage his own life.

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