Books: Notable: Apr. 27, 1981

FREE FALL IN CRIMSON by John D. MacDonald Harper & Row; 246 pages; $10.95

On his 19th case, "Salvage Consultant" Travis McGee is back in form. The Florida-based knight-errant exhibited signs of age in his last few outings. His likable brawn and cunning intelligence were eroded by diatribes about the deteriorating environment and the credit-card society. Fans began to worry about behavior alteration.

Their concern was premature. True, the big pale-eyed detective sometimes sounds more like Hamlet than Hammett: "You spend too much time in the wings, watching your performance," a friend comments. But...

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