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One True Sentence Hardcover – February 15, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Hector Lassiter Series

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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


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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: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,758,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMEVINE 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Author Craig McDonald brings mayhem and murder to the Left Bank in this enjoyable romp through nineteen twenties Paris. It's the heyday of the lost generation and someone is killing off the editors of the literary magazines that publish the expatriates. Dashing crime writer Hector Lassiter teams up with best pal Ernest Hemingway to get to the bottom of the serial murders. Gertrude Stein wants the boys to conduct a quiet, careful, investigation, but Hec and Hem are action oriented and they tough it out with various disgruntled writers, thugs, and madmen.

As the bodies pile up Hector, ever the romantic, finds true love with a bad girl mystery writer whose sexual antics get him involved in a drugged up threesome with a fragile young woman who just might be involved in the murders. How will it all end? You have to read this witty and atmospheric piece of historical fiction to find out.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a big sucker for stories set in Paris in the mid-1920s. Paris is a beautiful city and I find the idea of all those writers and poets and artists gathered in the city in the aftermath of World War I to be a wonderfully romantic notion. This book does a terrific job of capturing the atmosphere of the city and the spirit of the Lost Generation.

Normally I don't like the idea of using real people as fictional characters, but in this case McDonald does an excellent job of weaving in people like Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ford Maddox Ford and William Carlos Williams into the narrative as secondary figures. The main plot centers on a fictional young writer named Hector Lassiter and his efforts to solve the mystery of who is murdering the publishers of some of Paris' small literary magazines.

While the setting and characters are top flight, the plot is a bit convoluted toward the end and on occasion sinks into melodrama. That being said, I still enjoyed the book and look forward to reading others in the series.
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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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