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One True Sentence Hardcover – February 15, 2011

Book 4 of 4 in the Hector Lassiter Series

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312554389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312554385
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,159,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This time out, crime writer Hec Lassiter and best friend Ernest Hemingway are young members of the Lost Generation in Paris in 1924. Someone is murdering editors of the city’s many literary reviews, and Gertrude Stein assigns Hec, Hem, and two female mystery writers to track down the murderers, a nihilistic cult called the Nadaists. It’s another juicy setting for McDonald to mix real people, well-known parts of the Hemingway legend, invented characters, and murders most foul. Gertrude Stein, Alice and her brownies, Ford Maddox Ford, William Carlos Williams, Man Ray, and Aleister Crowley all play parts of varying sizes, and McDonald paints a vivid picture of Lost Gen life in Paris. He tweaks Papa by giving credit for several of his best-known lines to Hec and a Paris cop. And he creates Brinke Devlin, a stunning mystery novelist with whom Hec falls in love, even though he suspects her of evil deeds. Sadly, the preface reports that Papa will be retired from the Lassiter novels. But fans will always have Paris. --Thomas Gaughan


"Vivid, remarkable characters--the historical people as well-drawn as the fictional ones!--in a rich, evocative setting, and a gruesome serial killer with one of the most unusual motives ever. Absolutely gripping!"--Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series

 “Craig McDonald proves he is a master of literary suspense in this riveting historical thriller set in the 1920s Paris of Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.  Complex protagonists, shocking murders, and a gripping tale will leave you wanting more.”--Stefanie Pintoff, Edgar-award winning author of A Curtain Falls

"Nobody does mad pulp history like Craig McDonald. Reading a Hector Lassiter novel is like having a great uncle pull you aside, pour you a tumbler of rye, and tell you a story about how the 20th century really went down." --Duane Swierczynski, author of Expiration Date

"A finely-crafted pulp historical mystery…While McDonald plucks your heartstrings, his wily hero Hector Lassiter will pound out a drum roll on your short ribs, and yes, you actually will be thankful for the experience." --Tom Piccirilli, author of Shadow Season

 “The real stuff… Sharp, smart, and fascinating. McDonald brings alive a unique time and place with not only his talent for history but style that would make his subjects proud.”--Ace Atkins, author of Devil’s Garden and Infamous

“An amazing montage of mystery, murder, meta-fiction, and literary-history, quite unlike anything I’ve read before. ”--Craig Holden, author of The Jazz Bird

"Edgar-nominated author McDonald takes such care to describe the American literary expatriate community in Paris in the years after World War I that readers will feel as if they are walking alongside Hemingway and his buddies as they look for a vicious killer. Certain to attract Hemingway afficionados and readers who enjoy hard-boiled historical crime fiction." --Library Journal

"Another juicy setting for McDonald to mix real people, well-known parts of the Hemingway legend, invented characters, and murders most foul... McDonald paints a vivid picture of Lost Gen life in Paris." --Booklist

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
For visiting Americans, 1924 Paris is the land of reinvention. The City of Lights calls to artists and writers, an exotic oasis of genius, creativity and bohemia, the city teeming with legitimate writers and literary hangers-on, from Ezra Pound to a young Ernest Hemingway and Ford Maddox Ford. The handsome Hector Lassiter has quietly published crime stories in America, bread and butter work to support his more serious efforts in Paris as he and Hemingway spend hours in sidewalk cafes discussing the elusiveness of "one true sentence". When the editors of a number of local minor literary publications fall victim, one by one, to murder, Gertrude Stein assembles a group of selected writers in her salon, charging them with solving the spate of bizarre killings.

Hector and Hemingway are well matched, although Lassiter is quickly shanghaied by a dark-haired beauty, mystery writer Brinke Devlin. Brinke is a cipher to Hector, both intellectually and physically, the heady excitement of sleuthing in tandem surprising both of them- and yielding results. Speaking of surprises, McDonald lets fly a number of arrows from his quiver, the outrageous murders, a plethora of suspects and a ménage a trois turned treacherous as the danger escalates. It is the perfect mix to lure the reader into a twisted tale where a love-besotted Hector learns the fallacy of trusting appearances and a group of murderers move closer to their goal.

Hopelessly in love with Devlin, Hector finds himself tangled in a web of deceit, his literary pals both victims and potential foes, depending on who's holding the gun.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Quixote010 VINE VOICE on February 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In reviewing Craig McDonald's last novel, Print the Legend, I remarked that I thought he was GOOD writer. He most recent book has not altered my opinion. In fact, I would now include him as being a GOOD literary historian.

One True Sentence takes its title from a game actually attributed to Hemingway in which he would make a statement and ask his companion to add and complete it. In the McDonald series, this companion is usually one Hector Lassitor. Lassitor survives (and rather well) by writing crime stories ("not mysteries") for American short novel and magazine publications. Although his writing is consider well-below the skills of quality novelists and poets, nearly all of the so-called sophisticates in Europe reads his materials and have a degree of envy. Lassitor is the daring, done-it-all, Texas Marlboro man many of them aspire to be or to be with.

McDonald has an interesting knack of incorporating Hemingway and Lassitor into historical events along with the actual supporting cast, and he has done this in two other novels. In this case, French publishers are being murdered and Gertrude Stein, the grand dame of novue writers in France in the 1920s, calls together her contemporaries to investigate out of fear they may losing their output source, or may become victims themselves.

Stein actually lorded over a contingent of these self-titled Lost Generation writers immediately following WWI who now frequented Europe in hopes of discovering avenues for unfaltered literary expression.

While the mystery is well-constructed, the gem of this book is McDonald's discriptions of Paris, the events, and the people of the period.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In 1924 in Paris, a serial killer targets the editors of small literary magazines. The culprit's M.O. is never the same with each murder more gruesome than any of the previous ones. Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas order mystery writers and potential lovers Hector Lassiter and Brinke Devlin to solve the case before someone else dies.

The pair finds clues that point towards Ernest Hemingway. However, the writing sleuths believe that is too simple of a solution for a clever predator so they assume it is a set-up. They make further inquiries that lead to occultist Crowley and a Satanist, but nothing quite comes together as time seems to have run out on Lassiter after a brothel bloodbath.

The latest Lassiter 1920s mystery (see Print the Legend) contains more twists than Lombard Street in San Francisco, but all that spinning makes for a difficult to follow the somewhat non-cohesive story line. Still this is an enjoyable historical amateur sleuth as readers meet a who's who to include Hemingway as well as the two grand dame authoresses ordering Lassiter, Devlin and other crime novelists to find the killer before someone else fall off the Left Banke dead.

Harriet Klausner
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