Visiting his old football teammate, Tush Bannon, McGee finds his friend is struggling to make a go of a small marina / motel business as movers and shakers in the County want his place to complete an industrial development. Bannon choses not to ask McGee to undertake him as a salvage operation to recover what McGee can for him.
McGee is left with regrets when, just before Christmas, Bannon is killed by an engine block falling upon him. McGee knows it was neither a suicide (the official reason) nor an accident (too far fetched). Bannon’s widow, Janine, is devastated.
McGee, with the aid of Puss and Connie Alvarez – Janine’s friend – and Meyer, plot a salvage operation. They act promptly to secure the return to Janine of her foreclosed property by retaining a wily old Florida lawyer. She sells the property to McGee which lets him deal directly with the men who set up the failure of the Bannons.
McGee and Meyer develop an actual scheme. Unlike many simplistic modern blood soaked revenge mysteries they come up with a sophisticated con operation.
The bad guys are not cardboard figures. At the top they are clever businessmen. Those near the bottom are scrambling through life making deals. McGee plays on the inherent greed of all the crooked.
McGee is a master manipulator enjoying the plan he has concocted. There is a mix of intrigue, chicanery, skill and violence. MacDonald does very well balancing the scheme with violence. While McGee would prefer to use brain over brawn he is always ready to get physical.
By the story staying in Florida I found it a better plot than Sanibel Flats where Doc Ford heads to Central America to rescue a child from an army of revolutionaries.
As always in the McGee series there are apt observations and philosophical musing.
Meyer contributes one of his laws advising Puss:
“In all emotional conflicts, dear girl, the thing you find the hardest to do is the thing you should do.”
Meyer’s law sums up in a sentence a lot of self-help advice.
McGee looks into the psyche of a killer:
“I had seen something cold in his face just as he had flicked the lead against her skull. It has been a moment of change and revelation, showing a pleasure of erotic dimensions, of sensual pleasure ….. They are the dark brothers of the slackened flesh, turned on in some soiled way by a total vulnerability.”
I will continue re-reading the series. I plan to stay reading in Florida for a mystery by another Florida author this month. (Apr. 3/12)