Circling through various stages of development for some time, it looks like John D. MacDonald’s best-selling series is finally about to make it to the big screen, with Christian Bale eyeing the lead in The Deep Blue Goodbye.

The 1964 novel is the first of twenty-one in the Travis McGee series, and has previously had the likes of Oliver Stone and Paul Greengrass in the director’s chair, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead.

DiCaprio is still on board as a producer, but talks have commenced with Christian Bale to star as the hero, Travis McGee. And though there’s no offer yet, Bale is reported to have agreed to star, and an offer is expected shortly.

James Mangold, coming off the back of helming The Wolverine, has just closed his deal to direct, and DiCaprio will be producing alongside Jennifer Davisson Killoran (The Ides of March, Out of the Furnace) and Amy Robinson (From Hell, Julie & Julia).

Courtesy of Amazon, here’s the original synopsis for MacDonald’s book, The Deep Blue Good-By – you have to believe they’ll edit the title a little to change ‘Good-By’ to become ‘Goodbye’.

Travis McGee is a self-described beach bum who won his houseboat in a card game. He’s also a knight-errant who’s wary of credit cards, retirement benefits, political parties, mortgages, and television. He only works when his cash runs out, and his rule is simple: He’ll help you find whatever was taken from you, as long as he can keep half.

Dennis Lehane, whose novels Shutter Island, Gone Baby Gone, and Mystic River have all been given the cinematic treatment, penned the script, with Scott Frank (Minority Report, The Wolverine) writing the most recent draft.

TheWrap adds that Bale has recently passed on the second season of HBO’s True Detective, which potentially leaves the Oscar-winning actor more room on his schedule to shoot this sooner rather than later, if Mangold can fit it in before likely taking the helm for the as-yet-untitled sequel to The Wolverine.

With a long-running series of twenty-one books, and a readership in place already, this could well be the start of a new franchise for Bale in the years to come, and it should be an interesting new direction for him to take if all goes according to plan.