Friday, June 26, 2020

44. Soft Touch by John D. MacDonald

I had decided to give the John D. MacDonald non-Travis McGee's a break because I was getting too used to his style and less patient with his social philosophizing, especially about women.  However, I was heading out to a cottage in Lanaudière and felt like something easily digestible for relaxed lakeside reading.  I also wanted to bang out a few more books before June is over as I will probably be heading back to the Robin Hobb phat phantasy world in her next trilogy, each of whose books is in the 400-700 page range.

As always, I enjoyed the set-up right away and JDM gives it to you straight and quickly.  Jerry is a construction exec in his father-in-law's badly run company, his wife is a shrewish alcoholic.  His old army buddy (OSS behind enemy lines stuff in India) comes to visit and proposes a surefire caper: rip off a diplomat carrying 3 million dollars to buy arms for an uprising in his banana republic.  JDM presents everything in this one in a very lowkey and straightforward style. At first, when he and the wife start to go at it, I thought we were in for a lot of bad period dialect, but it was kept short and effective.

We get on with the story.  Things go bad, in quite interesting ways.  This is a heist gone wrong tale, a JDM morality tale and a man losing it tale all mixed together for a very enjoyable ride.  It is quite dark at the end, though because so much has gone on, it's not a downer.  I can safely say that Soft Touch is so far my favourite of the non-Travis McGee novels.  I also love the edition I have.  Just a lovely layout with space allowing a busy illustration to express itself.

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