- Series: Hector Lassiter
- Paperback: 392 pages
- Publisher: Betimes Books; 2nd Revised ed. edition (August 18, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0992655285
- ISBN-13: 978-0992655280
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,653,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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One True Sentence: A Hector Lassiter novel Paperback – August 18, 2014
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From the Author
Welcome to the world of Hector Lassiter. Betimes Books is presenting the Lassiter series--a mix of reissued and never-before-seen entries--in chronological order for the first time. "One True Sentence" finds Hector Lassiter, novelist and eventual screenwriter, at his uneasy start as an aspiring author. The Texas-born Lassiter is introduced living in post-war Paris, a member of the so-called "Lost Generation," struggling along with fellow unknown Ernest Hemingway to find his writer's voice.
About the Author
Craig McDonald is an award-winning author and journalist. The Hector Lassiter series has been published to international acclaim in numerous languages. McDonald's debut novel was nominated for Edgar, Anthony and Gumshoe awards in the U.S. and the 2011 Sélection du prix polar Saint-Maur en Poche in France. The Lassiter series has been enthusiastically endorsed by a who's who of crime fiction authors including Michael Connelly, Laura Lippmann, Daniel Woodrell, James Crumley, James Sallis, Diana Gabaldon, and Ken Bruen, among many others. McDonald is also the author of two highly praised non-fiction volumes on the subject of mystery and crime fiction writing, "Art in the Blood" and "Rogue Males," nominated for the Macavity Award.
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Top customer reviews
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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.
McDonald’s hero is Hector Lassiter, who, unlike Heller and Kaminsky, is not a gumshoe, although crime and death seem to find him very easily. Instead, he’s a writer, a hardboiled crime novelist straight out of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. The chronology of the Lassiter novels is a bit odd. McDonald introduced his character in “Head Games,” a book chronicling the adventures of a middle-aged Lassiter, and then the author hopscotched around a bit chronologically in his next couple of books. “One True Sentence,” however, goes back to Lassiter’s youngest writing days, in Paris in the 1920’s. There, he rubs shoulders with literary luminaries like Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas (whose brownies help fuel a rather bizarre romantic encounter for Lassiter), William Carlos Williams, and Ford Maddox Ford.
Of course, the Paris scene wouldn’t be complete without Ernest Hemingway, and Hemingway and Lassiter (whom Hem calls “Lasso”) are drinking buddies. Ironically, Lassiter, who has had some stories published by pulp detective magazines, is more successful than Hemingway, leading to a tad bit of jealousy and allowing Hemingway to serve as Lassiter’s wing man in the detective arena. Lassiter’s detective skills are put to the test in “One True Sentence” when the Paris literary scene is rocked by a series of brutal murders, mostly of publishers of small literary magazines (of which there seem to be an infinite supply in Paris). As the body count rises, the killings seem to be the work of a bizarre cult led by a disciple of noted Satanist Aleister Crowley (who also shows up and winds up on the business end of a Lassiter fist). Lassiter tries to track the cult leader down but also wonders if there’s more to these killing than first meets the eye.
What does meet the eye a lot in “Sentence” is blood and guts. I actually lost track of the number of killings in the book, certainly far more than there were in “Head Games.” These killings, and the mystery behind them, are actually the weakest aspect of the book. As a mystery, “One True Sentence” is somewhat routine. But, as a glance at the Lost Generation, the book is much better. Hemingway, Stein, and the rest come to life, and the world they inhabit seems detached from reality, consisting of days of drinking, talking, and, eventually and occasionally, writing, with no real sense of urgency. McDonald shares with his readers a strange but fascinating experience.
Of course, in the middle of all this is Lassiter himself, and the book gives readers some idea of what led to his maturation as a writer. There’s love, or at least sex, involved, with a fellow mystery writer who pens novels under a man’s name. Lassiter is far younger, fitter, and less world weary than in “Head Games,” and, although this younger Lassiter isn’t quite as interesting as the move mature one, it’s interesting to see a bit of his innocence wear off here as “One True Sentence” progresses.
As a mystery, “One True Sentence” reminds me of a nice hot bath that someone leaves running until it overflows. There are simply too many killings and too much plot, especially when the mystery takes a backseat to Lassiter’s romantic and literary interludes. This actually improves the book, as “Sentence” is much more successful as an exploration of the Parisian scene and the burgeoning career of one Hector Lassiter. McDonald brings all these people to life and creates vivid memories of the bygone era. The title of the book derives from a famous quote by Hemingway that figures into Lassiter’s efforts to finish his latest work, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” In this book, Craig McDonald has written a whole bunch of true sentences.
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.