Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ONE TRUE SENTENCE - Craig McDonald

First lines: "Snow falling on the Seine. It was half-past-two and it was quiet as it gets with the heavy falling snow and Hector was just starting to cross Pont Neuf, heading home after a long night of writing."

In 1924 Paris, Hector Lassiter finds himself tangled in a love triangle that works its way into a multiple murder investigation. Someone has targeted publishers of small literary magazines and the police have roped Hector into being their eyes and ears on the inside of the Paris literary community. With the help of such historical figures as Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, Hector must not only determine who is committing these heinous crimes, but he needs to ensure it isn't one of the women he's tangled up with and he's her next victim.

ONE TRUE SENTENCE is the fourth book in Craig McDonald's Hector Lassiter series and the third featuring Ernest Hemingway. As with the previous novels, McDonald weaves the historical events and characters into the story so deftly that it's often difficult to determine where the fiction stops and the fact begins. He's taken his writers pencil and shaded the border between the two.

The characters populating ONE TRUE SENTENCE are masterfully drawn. As a reader I envision their physical appearance, their sound, mannerisms, and scents. This isn't a result of specific detail but rather overall character development. With the historical figures, McDonald blends his sharp knowledge and his colorful imagination.

"To stay warm, Hem was trading punches with his shadow on the passing walls; with his reflection in the storefront windows."

The friendship between Hector and Hemingway is both humorous and sentimental. And while it works to develop Hector's character, it is actually the relationship between Hector and his lover, Brinke Devlin, that truly develops Hector. Brinke is significant right down to her nickname - Brinke, "on the brink." And "on the brink" is exactly where Hector finds himself through most of ONE TRUE SENTENCE: on the brink of the law, on the brink of relationships, on the brink of his career. In ONE TRUE SENTENCE, Hector's character is highly malleable, and Brinke is in many ways forming him like she forms her own characters. Who Hector will become is essentially taking shape here based on his experiences with this woman.


McDonald's knowledge of the time period also works to bring Paris to life for the reader. The setting is as much a character as Hemingway or Lassiter. McDonald is true to the language, the environment, the culture. And unlike the previous three novels in this series, the entire novel takes place in Paris over the course of a week.

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.

ONE TRUE SENTENCE is available from Minotaur Books in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0-312-55438-5) and will be available in May on audio from Recorded Books (ISBN: 978-1-4561-2172-3).

3 comments:

le0pard13 March 16, 2011 at 4:38 PM  

Fine review, Jen. I'm so looking forward to this one. Thanks.

Naomi Johnson March 16, 2011 at 11:38 PM  

Fine review, Jen. Couldn't agree more. There are many authors whose work I enjoy a great deal, but not very many who are capable of leaving me awestruck. Every time I gain some small insight into CM's work, I later find out that I've only scratched the surface.

Irene April 8, 2011 at 8:06 PM  

I'm unfamiliar with this author, but thanks to you I shall change that. Great review. Thanks.

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