Look, it’s a John D. MacDonald book, you don’t need me to recommend it to you. But just in case: go on, get a copy and read this damn book.
The premise of The Girl, The Gold Watch & Everything is fairly simple. There’s a sort of goofy, clumsy fellow whose wealthy uncle passes away. It seems there are a handful of people who are suddenly very interested in this guy and the fortune he has. His luck turns when people think he has embezzled the money somewhere. Just when it matters most, our hero meets a beautiful girl who can help him out. It’s almost in an aside that he also comes to realize the watch he inherited from his uncle features remarkable powers: it can literally stop time.
The idea of being able to stop time — and manipulate things and people and situations in stasis — raises a lot of interesting intellectual, philosophical, and ethical questions. You can wrestle with all that stuff when you put the book down. In the meantime it’s a lot of fun to watch our hero — whose name is Kirby Winter, I mean, come on — mess around with the bad guys.
It was a neat enough idea they turned it into a made-for-TV-movie back in 1980, starring Robert Hays (Striker from Airplane) and Pam Dawber (Mindy from Mork & Mindy). There was a follow-up movie in 1980 called The Girl, The Gold Watch & Dynamite.
I wish I could say I remember those movies as a kid, but I don’t.
I will concede that this is not a Travis McGee novel, the 21-book series the late Mr. MacDonald is best known for. I love Travis McGee, and in a way, grew up with Travis McGee. I would be willing to make a pretty decent bet my parents can still name all the Travis McGee novels in order.
I have only read the first two because it is the first series I have loved so much, I don’t want to devour is whole, in just a handful of sittings.
Look, I’m not going to have the audacity to sit here and review John D. MacDonald. The guy was a master of his craft. The Girl, The Gold Watch & Everything was a whole lot of fun, and I read the thing in about three days.
MacDonald had an incredible ability to capture a sense of time — he wrote this book in 1962, and you feel every bit of that without it feeling forced or strange. He also captures Florida better than any writer I’ve ever read.
Read the book, the for fun watch the Robert Hays/Pam Dawber movie on YouTube, just for fun. Don’t worry, you have all the time in the world.