John D(ann) MacDonald 1916–
American mystery and science fiction writer.
Among the most prolific and popular writers of detective fiction, MacDonald is also one of the most highly praised within this genre. Although his stories are formulaic, they are well-crafted, featuring artfully devised plots and a wide diversity of crimes and characters. Within the framework of solving mysteries, MacDonald has shown a deftness for capturing the local color of various American communities, especially of those in Florida, and his stories offer keen social criticism on environmental concerns, business and government corruption, and the artificiality of commercial culture.
MacDonald is best known for his Travis McGee series. McGee, a husky and virile "salvage expert," lives on a houseboat away from commercialized Florida, coming ashore only to aid victims of crime—in much the same manner as Robin Hood—for a fifty percent commission. McGee salvages both the material loss and the emotional state of his characters and then returns to his boat. Cinnamon Skin (1982), the most recent addition to the McGee series, is representative of MacDonald's successful blend of machismo, local color, and social criticism.
(See also CLC, Vol. 3; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 1; and Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 8.)