The first novel in the Edgar®/Anthony nominated Hector Lassiter series
An Akron Beacon Journal Ohio's Best Book of the Year Selection!
Chosen for numerous Year's Best lists!
—RT Book Review Magazine
Chosen as a top book of 2011 by BookPeople in Austin; by Murder, Mystery & Mayhem
The Poisoned Pen Staff Favorite
Mystery Guild Alternate Selection!
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The place "where the 20th Century was," as Gertrude Stein put it.
A city teeming with would-be poets, writers, painters and publishers...the Lost Generation.
Hector Lassiter, fledgling author and best friend of Ernest Hemingway, is crossing the Pont Neuf when he hears a body fall into the icy Seine&the first in a string of brutal murders of literary magazine editors that throw a shroud over the City of Lights.
Frantic to stop the killings, the literati form their own improbable vigilante band: Gertrude Stein gathers the most prominent crime and mystery writers in the city, including Hector and the dark, mysterious mystery novelist Brinke Devlin. Soon, Hector and Brinke are tangled not only under the sheets, but in a web of murders, each more grisly than the next.
They learn the killings may be the work of a strange cult of writers led by the mysterious "Nobodaddy"...a literary movement embracing nihilism and the siren song of the void.
As he is drawn deeper into the hunt, Hector is pitched between three women writers with hidden agendas and the darkest imaginations.
From the cafés of Montparnasse, through the historic graveyards of Paris and the Grand Guignol of the Catacombs, One True Sentence is an erotic literary thriller and richly sensuous, funhouse mirror that evokes the most romantic and suspenseful appeals of A Moveable Feast and The Dante Club.
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Minotaur Books, hardcover, February 2011: ISBN: 978-0312554385
Betimes Books, trade paperback, August 2014: ISBN: 978-0992655280
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PRAISE FOR ONE TRUE SENTENCE
"This is One Strange Book. In a good way. Vivid, remarkable charactersthe 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
"One True Sentence is the real stuff. A story that transports you into Hemingway's Paris as the backdrop for one hell of a crime novel. From the start I was therewalking in the Saint Germain district and along the Seine; eavesdropping in literary salons, smoky cafés, and used bookshops. The novel is 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. I read this one straight through."
—Ace Atkins, author of DEVIL'S GARDEN and INFAMOUS
"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 to read 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
"In One True Sentence, Craig McDonald has not only created a double-stranded mystery marked by shocking scenarios and revelations, but at the same time a veracious re-creation of that world of the American expatriots in Paris in the 1920s. And what is more remarkable is that he has fused all of this into a singular world. That is, the very people of that era who most fascinate usGertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Ford Maddox Ford, Alice B. Toklas, Sylvia Beach, and many othersare not only here, but here as major characters in the mystery. Stein as a goader of her acolytes to solve the murders. Hemingway as the muscle behind the investigations of Hector Lassiter, and so on. And what's most pleasing is that you come to know and appreciate these characters as real peopleor is it the other way around? In any case, they come alive in three dimensions, and you find yourself caring about them in ways you haven't before. It's a kind of amazing (and very smart) montage of mystery, murder, meta-fiction, and literary-history, quite unlike anything I've read before. I enjoyed it immensely."
—Craig Holden, author of THE JAZZ BIRD
"Although more graphically explicit than I normally enjoy, I could not put One True Sentence down. Craig McDonald has a gift for sure-footed mysteries rooted in historical accuracy. This time out, he has recreated Paris of the 1920s and peopled it with colorful members of the Lost Generation. Witty, gritty and wry. I can't wait to see where he takes Hector Lassiter next."
—Margaret Maron, Edgar®-winning author of the Deborah Knott mystery series
"I really hope Brinke Devlin comes back. I loved her the first time she came on the page and I loved her at the end, too. She's a fascinating character. Those of us who are male writers can really appreciate how difficult it is to write such a strong and believable female character."
—Jim Sallis, author of DRIVE
"A finely-crafted pulp historical mystery featuring a group of literary notaries themselves caught in a dark and fascinating pulp-like mystery. McDonald's formidable narrative strengths are all on display hereyou get a sharply-wrought crime tale full of wit, wistfulness, sly satire, and authentic portrayals of Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and a dozen other legends set against the creative maelstrom of 1920s Paris. 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 fourth Hector Lassiter novel is one heck of a ride through 1924 Parisa time and place readers need not be familiar with to enjoy the story. The mystery follows a classic trajectory, with enough red herrings and curveballs to make readers who guess at the culprit early on feel exceptionally smart."
Michelle Wiener, RT Book Reviews Magazine
"In 1924 in Paris, a 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 latest Lassiter 1920s mystery contains more twists than Lombard Street in San Francisco. This is an enjoyable historical amateur sleuth (novel) as readers meet a who's who (including) Hemingway as well as the two grand dame authoresses ordering Lassiter, Devlin and other crime novelists to find the killer."
—The Mystery Gazette
"When crime novelist Hector Lassiter sees a body fall into the Seine from the Pont Neuf in 1924 Paris, Gertrude Stein rallies the troops, and Lassiter and pal Ernest Hemingway pair up to find out who is killing the city's literary editors. 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. VERDICT Certain to attract Hemingway aficionados and readers who enjoy hard-boiled historical crime fiction."
"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, Booklist
"Craig McDonald has created one of my favorite characters in recent years, Navy Colt-packing crime novelist Hector Lassiter, who finds himself in the shadows of twentieth century history, occasionally with his buddy Ernest Hemingway. McDonald's latest, One True Sentence, takes Hector back to his early daysthe Left Bank of the 1920s. As in previous books, McDonald weaves the pulp through the period and its people, giving weight to the book's fantastic elements. Many times those elements are used to explore literary culture, particularly its dark side. He shows the Lost Generation in an exciting, believable mix of energy, individuality, experimental hedonism, new ideas, and self-involvement. He also shows them as just another bunch of writers trying to get published, making these historical, larger than life figures very human."
—Scott Montgomery, BookPeople
"Craig McDonald came up with a brilliant premise for a mystery series. McDonald researched the career of the legendary novelist Ernest Hemingway. Then he imagined another writer named Hector Lassiter to be Hemingway's best friend. McDonald sprinkles One True Sentence with cameo appearances by famous novelists, poets and artists who lived in Paris during that period. Then he imagines a cast of characters who force the action. McDonald's ingenious plot has this maelstrom of mystery writers who are writing their own fictional stories while simultaneously being whirled through a lethal tsunami of impending doom."
Vick Mickunas, Dayton Daily News (read the full review)
"Murder and Paris...what could be more perfect? Craig McDonald's fourth mystery featuring a young Ernest Hemingway and his fictitious pal Hector "Lasso" Lassiter is out and it's a lot of fun. The plot involves 'Lost Generation' writers who are being murdered and the survivors' attempts to figure out who the killer is before one of them becomes the next victim. The plot, though, is almost beside the point. If you enjoy period mysteries (this one is set in 1924), then pick up One True Sentence. It will make you glad you were an English major because you'll 'get' all the references."
—Katherine Tomlinson, Katomic Energy
"This is Craig's masterpiece. McDonald blends the fictional pulp writer Hector Lassiter, into a world of non fiction characters such as Gertrude Stein, Alice Tolkas, Aleister Crowley, Man Ray, and of course Hadley & Ernest Hemingway. McDonald humanizes these literary icons like only he can. I have always found the Lassiter novels to be intelligent, rich and thought-provoking, but One True Sentence takes the series to a new level. This one has it all, mystique, intrigue, mystery, erotica, murder, the occult."
Signs and Wonders (read the full review)
"Kierkegaard said that 'life can only be experienced backwards, but unfortunately can only be lived forwards.' This is exactly Hector Lassiter's dilemma as he becomes involved in a series of murders in 1924 Paris and a steamy affair with dark-eyed beauty Brinke Devlin, a free-thinking mystery writer who, like Lassiter, has had her work published in the States. With his usual wit and charm, McDonald recreates the Paris of the Twenties, the madly-talented, night-clubbing writers and artists that flourish in a bohemian milieu, bold feminists and iconic literary rebels on the cusp of genius. Lassiter is always engaged in the writing process even in the midst of murder and romance, his thoughts wandering to a story or the theme of his first novel. It is in this regard that McDonald excels, connecting the writer to his environment, be it a tumble in the sheets in a menage a trios or facing certain death at the hands of a murderer. Hector never takes anything for granted and never underestimates his environment as McDonald spins a twisted tale of writers, their passions and their pasts."
Curled Up With A Good Book (read the full review)
"One True Sentence...has pretty much everything I want to see in a work of crime fiction: a vividly presented setting (Paris in the 1920s), memorable characters (including Lassiter, Ernest Hemingway, and the enigmatic Brinke Devlin), and twists enough to twirl your hair."
—J. Kingston Pierce, The Rap Sheet
"One True Sentence, like the three books before it, is a work of art. Hector Lassiter consistently finds himself in various artistic communities and it's fitting. The novels are full of spirit and creativity and individuality. Experiencing the work of Craig McDonald is akin to experiencing a painting by Picasso, a dance by Baryshnikov, music by Tchaikovsky. No two people will experience it exactly the same, but everyone who does experience it will walk away richer."
Jen Forbus at Jen's Book Thoughts (read the full review)
"The book's title comes from a well-known Hemingway quote ("All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.") and a game the two writers play, one beginning a sentence and the other finishing it. With a writer whose guiding principle is "It's not art until somebody dies," One True Sentence is art."
Barbara McIntyre, Akron Beacon Journal (read the full review)
"Craig McDonald's fictional characters interact seamlessly with historical figures: Stein, Hemingway, Aleister Crowley, Ford Madox Ford, et al. The author draws them with a breathtaking, at times unflattering, accuracy. Nevertheless it is the fictional character of mystery writer Brinke Devlin who steals the spotlight... One True Sentence has almost the feel of a memoir but overlaid withor cloaked bya traditional mystery of its time period."
Naomi Johnson, The Drowning Machine (read the full review)
"If you're a fan of Hemingway, you can't skip this Paris romp with his buddy Hector Lassiter. If you're a Lassiter fan, One True Sentence is a must. McDonald has created an education series around the life and times of Ernest Hemingway. Hector Lassiter, McDonald's fictional Hemingway pal, remains a man's man. There's no shortage of adventure, love, lust or violence in this Lassiter-Hemingway journey back to the La Ville-Lumière (city of light), circa 1924."
Charlie Stella, author of Johnny Porno (read the full review)
"The first book in the series that is a straight-up mystery novel in the Agatha Christie sense...if Agatha Christie's books had blood, guts, drugs, and three-ways in them, that is. The mystery aspect of One True Sentence is particularly ingeniously handled since much of the novel concerns itself with characters like Gertrude Stein and others in the Left Bank scene looking down on genre fiction only to find themselves in a true mystery novel-like predicament."
Nerd of Noir, Spinetingler (read the full review)
"If you're looking for an exotic location try Paris via Craig McDonald's One True Sentence. This wonderful literary historical takes place in 1924, the Golden Age of expatriate authors such as Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. The stylish sleuth is Hector Lassiter, a mystery writer who also happens to count Hemingway as an acquaintance. Teaming up with another mystery writer, Brinke Devlin, Lassiter rushes to figure out who is killing the editors of literary magazines. This one shouldn't be missed."
—Mystery Lovers Bookshop
"McDonald has a lot of fun, peppering the legendary milieu with literary in-jokes and trivia while still crafting a compelling and complex mystery which engrosses and surprises to the very end. The Lassiter series is unique in crime fiction, a hardboiled take on the twentieth century through the lens of a no nonsense pulp writer savvy in both high and low culture. One True Sentence is a fine addition and leaves the reader eager for his next appearance."
Radio Free UBU (read the full review)
"In this exciting mystery novel, Hector Lassiter is a crime writer (as distinguished from a mystery writer), living in Paris in the 1920s, a familiar of Ernest and Hadley Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and other luminaries... McDonald creates a world peopled by interesting characters and creates a plot that keeps the reader turning pages. Not much more than that can we ask of authors."
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John Kenyon interviews Craig about One True Sentence at Things I'd Rather Be Doing.
A new Q&A with Vince Keenan.
A closer look at the woman who "made" Hector Lassiter Hector at Jen's Book Thoughts
"The Story Behind the Story" at The Rap Sheet.
Craig writes about the influence of James Sallis' Lew Griffin series on the Hector Lassiter series for the Poisoned Pen.
A look at Craig's recent reading at Writers Read.
Craig describes how "I Came to Write the Book" at pattinase.
Craig extends "A Passport to France" at Paperback Dolls.
One True Sentence undergoes the Page 69 Test.
One True Sentence, the film at My Book the Movie.
Craig writes about a forgotten neo-noir classic at Megan Abbott and Sara Gran's blog here and here.
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French translation coming from Belfond
Unabridged audio edition from Recorded Books