Jack E. Davis


Hardboiled-fiction writer John D. MacDonald was known to fulminate with devastating eloquence against the profligate pillaging of the Florida Dream. Its post-World War II disintegration into a nightmare took form as a subtheme in numerous novels he produced between the 1950s and 1980s and ultimately as a subgenre that inspired a future generation of socially minded Florida writers.1 Having made the state his home, MacDonald sensed personal loss when the combined improvidence and greed of businesses and government leaders impaired the general quality of life. He put his concerns to creative use in cutting prose, saving his harshest words for the ungreening of Florida's flush indigenous beauty. The book often regarded as a compendium of his disquietude is Condominium, published in 1977 during a rare moment of stagnation in the state's construction industry. Set on one of the "false keysn edging the peninsula's west coast, the novel departs from his usual hard-boiled formula but otherwise remains classic-fare MacDonald. Its cast of characters includes sordid building contractors, an insolent condominium super, defrauded senior citizens, a couple of smart, get-it-done retirees, and a punishing hurricane bearing down on the hedonism of overbuilt Florida, standing impertinently in harm's way.2