Dress Her in Indigo

Dress Her in Indigo

by John D MacDonald

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A wealthy old man laid up in the hospital is desperate to understand the last months of his daughter’s life before she was killed in a car crash in Mexico. It was puzzling. She’d cleaned out her considerable bank account, left Miami and hadn’t been heard from again. Travis McGee ventures into the steep hills and strange backwoods of Oaxaca through a bizarre world of dropouts, drug freaks, and kinky rich people–and begins to suspect the beautiful girl’s death was no accident….

I have spent most of this year reading books that have a beachy/tropical setting in an attempt to enjoy the miserably cold Florida winter (yes I know it is now spring. I’m behind). Tropical setting plus a thrilling mystery always equals a Travis Magee novel! I am slowly collecting the series thanks to my local book store and I picked up Dress Her in Indigo as it had Travis and Meyer traipsing across Mexico.

Whew.

season 2 ugh GIF by IFC

Don’t get me wrong; I loved it. I love every Travis Magee novel, but Dress Her in Indigo was a tough read. Let’s go ahead and get the Spoilers/Trigger Warning out of the way. Be prepared for extensive descriptions of substance and sexual abuse. Nothing is sugar coated (in typical JDM fashion) but you don’t have to worry about gratuitous gore. It is what it is and that is exactly how JDM lays it down on the page. Dress Her in Indigo does not have a happy ending; it ends the only way it can. Just…whew. End of Spoilers.

Meyer and Magee are hired to go to Mexico and discover the details of a lost life. An old friend of Meyer’s has recently buried his daughter and wishes to know how she lived while in Mexico. Travis knows that nothing good will come this venture but Meyer insists on doing the favor for a friend. This scene between the three men introduced me to my favorite quote:

“But don’t fault him. He believes he is really in the midst of life and always has been. He doesn’t know any better, because he’s never known anything else. What a limited man believes is emotional reality is indeed his emotional reality.” Meyer (John D MacDonald)

So, Travis takes this job against his better judgement and heads south with Meyer. What follows is a twisted tale of drugs, hard living, and the loss of innocence. It was an amazing story; it was a rough story.

I don’t want my promise of a rough time to dissuade you from reading Dress Her in Indigo. The novel was initially published in 1969 and tackles a number of social issues. Unsurprisingly, JDM’s opinions/suggestions are just as applicable today. He discussed the lack of communication between the young and old, the stark contrast of the materialistic and idealistic, the difference between sexual conquest and intimacy, and the affects of war and violence on mental health. He takes a very candid approach on the struggles of those with same sex sexual orientation (remember it was published in 1969). But most importantly, Dress Her in Indigo highlights the loss of innocence and how to adjust to a new reality.

I especially enjoyed the aforementioned quote because it hit me at the right time in my life. I needed to read that statement. I needed to know that some people are incapable of understanding a life outside their own small reality. To understand this isn’t necessarily because they are mentally incapable of such a feat (though that can be the case) but often they have no idea there is so much more out there.

Do I suggest Dress Her in Indigo? Yup. But like all John D MacDonald books…that recommendation comes with a caveat. This book is going to make you think. It’s going to make you cringe; make you wish beyond anything that you can jump into the pages and hug poor Meyer. This book isn’t a light holiday read, but it is perfect for those longing for more of a thrill as they soak up the sun.

Let me know what you think! Happy Reading

Lindsay

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Risky Business

Risky Business

by Nora Roberts

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Liz Palmer runs a dive business in the quiet tranquility of a Caribbean island. Tranquil, that is, until a routine trip over the reef reveals the body of her newest employee – diver Jerry Sharpe. But when his brother, Jonas, shows up asking questions, Liz can’t see how she can help. She barely knew Jerry. Then someone breaks into Liz’s apartment, intent on her murder. Liz realizes that she is already more involved in Jonas’ quest to unravel Jerry’s murky past than she wanted to be. And now Jonas and Liz will be drawn into a dangerous criminal underworld that could cost them both their lives…

I decided to read Risky Business because I was drawn in by the promise of SCUBA diving and a grisly murder mystery. I can’t say no to a goodmurder mystery and Liz, the leading lady, actually finds her missing dive master by seeing his body through the bottom of her glass bottom boat. I was hooked with that scene! What can I say? I guess I’m morbid.

Unfortunitely, that is where my enjoyment of the story also died a grisly death. I’m still going to start with the few positive notes. I loved the mystery of Risky Business. The drug smuggling storyline was interesting and I was kept guessing throughout the story. I also enjoyed the SCUBA diving scenes. Cozumel Mexico is one of my favorite dive sites and these passages brought back some wonderful memories of crystal clear waters and vibrant sea life. It had me ready to jump on a plane and head out on a dive trip.

That’s it though. I’m sad to say that finishing this book was akin to pulling teeth thanks to the romantic relationship between Liz and Jonas. It. was. so. annoying. To sum it up: Liz is damaged and stubbornly refuses to allow herself to be happy. Jonas is spoiled and pushy and goes way out of line to seduce Liz (like going to Texas to secretly meet her daughter). Liz gets mad. Jonas gets mad. But they are sooooo in love with each other. Major eyeroll and gag me moments. Every moment just seemed so forced.

I realized, half way through the book, that Risky Business was originally published in the 1980s. This could explain why the romance is so forced, but still…nope. The majority of the book was dedicated to this romance and the mystery was just a side note instead of a major plot line. Risky Business just wasn’t my type of mystery.

What do you think about romance in your mysteries? I prefer it to stay a subplot. What is your favorite Nora Roberts novel?

Lindsay