Christian Bale is in early talks to star as crime fiction hero Travis McGee in Fox's big-screen adaptation of a John D. MacDonald book.

The role would see the actor re-team with his 3:10 to Yuma director James Mangold.

The Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island) script for the film is based on MacDonald's 1964 mystery-adventure novel The Deep Blue Good-By.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, talks with Bale are in the earliest of stages and the studio has not yet made him an offer for the role.

However, according to sources, the actor is keen to take on the role, and has discussed it with director Mangold.

Leonardo DiCaprio, who was at one point poised to star in the adaptation, will produce with his Appian Way company.

Travis McGee is a character who stars in a series of 21 novels from MacDonald. He is a self-described "salvage consultant" who recovers people's property for a fee, and gets into trouble fighting villains, all the while wooing women.