The Lonely Silver Rain

[Amazon Link]

Another windup to a years-long re-reading project: all of the Travis McGee novels by John D. MacDonald, in order. The Lonely Silver Rain was published in 1985, and Mr. MacDonald passed away the next year.

Travis is hired by a rich acquaintance to find and recover a stolen luxury yacht. The task turns out to involve a lot of aerial reconnaissance and tedious scanning of the resulting photos. (If updated for the 21st century, I'd imagine Travis would have a gray-hat hacker tap into a satellite feed and have an AI program scan the images.)

But finding the yacht is straightforward. When Travis boards the abandoned vessel, he discovers long-dead, badly abused, bodies and piles of counterfeit dough. Everything screams "drug deal gone bad". Which would be fine, except for the subsequent nearly-successful attempts on Travis's life. He'd like to get that to stop, if possible. This effort takes him on an odyssey through the cocaine trafficking biz, as it was in the 1980s.

This is all accompanied by McGee's general angst about his personal life. A lot of his old friends from Bahia Mar Marina have moved on, and the new crowd … well, they're not his type. How is he to grow old gracefully, when for decades he's scornfully eschewed everything resembling a normal middle-class life? You can only boink so many beach bimbos before that gets tired. Or so I'm told.

When I reached the end, I couldn't help but notice how perfect it was as a "final" sendoff book. Allegedly—beware, spoilers at the link—that was not necessarily Mr. MacDonald's intention. But fans can now imagine Travis shambling off into new sordid scrapes as they wish, dispensing rough justice, disguised as "salvage work".