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One True Sentence [Hardcover]

Craig McDonald

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Book Description

Feb. 15 2011

Paris, 1924. A city teeming with would-be poets, writers, and painters. 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 Light.

Frantic to stop the killings, Gertrude Stein gathers the most prominent crime and mystery writers in the city, including Hector and the dark, mysterious crime 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.

As he is drawn deeper into the hunt, Hector finds himself torn between three women with hidden agendas and dark imaginations. When Hector learns that the murders may be the work of a strange cult of writers who are targeting the literary set, Hemingway, Hector, and Brinke must scramble to find the killer before they become the next victims.

A Moveable Feast meets The Dante Club in this ­­­­exquisite mystery that takes readers from the cafés of Montparnasse, through the historic graveyards of Paris, to the smoky backrooms of bookstores and salons. As dark as the shadowy banks of the Seine and as addictive as absinthe, this unforgettable book will grab you and never let go. 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (Feb. 15 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312554389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312554385
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14.9 x 2.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,114,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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

About the Author

CRAIG MCDONALD is an award-winning journalist, editor, and fiction writer. In 2008, his debut novel, Head Games, was nominated for an Edgar and was also a finalist for the Anthony, Gumshoe, and Crimespree awards for best first novel. Print the Legend, his most recent novel, was also published by Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "He's replaced nothing with Nothing. Nada is his new God." Feb. 15 2011
By Luan Gaines - Published on
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. A consummate professional, Lassiter admits to a tendency to view every experience from a distance ("the writer in him is always watching"), his usual sharp edge blunted by a seductive and secretive lover. No matter, McDonald recreates a vibrant Paris teeming with expats and literary figures, a cult of nihilists and the flamboyant violence of the dark side as ambition collides with hubris. From sidewalk cafes to private salons and shadowy alleys where murderers lurk, Hector Lassiter treads this world with careless grace and a reliable instinct for survival. Luan Gaines/2011.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Reader's Book.... Feb. 23 2011
By Quixote010 - Published on
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. It isn't hard to imagine sitting in McDonald's Paris cafe' and drinking red wine, walking thru the snow of Paris, warming by a fireplace and sipping brandy, eating pastries while visiting with other displaced Americans.... and, if you recognize the events and the people he throws into the mix, then the book becomes more than a mystery... it becomes an eyeglass on history.

I am disappointed to discover that this is the last adventure between Lassitor and Hemingway and that Lassitor will appear in only three more novels. If you enjoy reading mysteries with depth, I believe you will enjoy this one.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable historical amateur sleuth Feb. 16 2011
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
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
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brutal but well plotted, grand setting July 18 2014
By Claire - Published on
I am new to Craig McDonald, and I liked "One True Sentence" a good deal. Well plotted, the setting and the use of real people works well to set a tone and a feeling. But it is unrelentingly brutal and violent, the bodies just pile up--almost to the point of a sick satire of mystery and crime novels. "Less is more" could well apply to the number of murders in a mystery/crime novel. Still, compelling, well done.
5.0 out of 5 stars Just when I think I'm out, he pulls me back in.... Sept. 29 2014
By J. Cornelius - Published on
Craig McDonald's books are a big problem for me. They pull me into Hector Lassiter's world when I'm supposed to be getting things done in my own. I love the Hector Lassiter books and push them on every avid reader I know.

Jim Cornelius

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